Jack Gunning, diagnosed at 19

Before my diagnosis, I was a very active and healthy college student. I was doing great in my first year at St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont, and I was finally getting comfortable with the new college lifestyle. A big part of feeling “my great” was staying physically active. I love to do anything outside—snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, you name it. I also played basketball and baseball in high school. I love to get out in Burlington, find new restaurants, explore the shores of Lake Champlain. 

I first started to notice health changes when I felt a sudden popping sensation in my groin. After this, I found a small bump in my groin area that did not seem to get any better or worse as time went on. I also started to notice that my right testicle was shrinking very gradually. 

I went to Urgent Care, then the ER to see if they could find anything, and tests came up inconclusive, and I was diagnosed with a possible sports hernia or hydrocele. I knew that wasn’t the case, so I talked with a urologist who said we would take a look when I returned from school in early May. This news was very concerning to me. I know my body better than anyone else, and I know what feels right and what doesn’t. 

“For young adults, life is hectic, but it is absolutely imperative to make your health a priority.”

From October to May, I found myself not able to be as active as usual. Playing pickup basketball, football, or really any type of physical activity caused pain. My instincts were telling me that something was definitely wrong, and I needed a second opinion.

I had just turned 19 when I had an orchiectomy and was diagnosed with testicular cancer Stage 1B mixed germ cell nonseminoma. The cancer was 98% embryonal carcinoma and 2% yolk sac tumor, and I went through one cycle of BEP chemotherapy.

I’m happy that I took every precaution when I first experienced my health change. I’m lucky to have parents that took initiative and made me feel comfortable and positive throughout the entire process. It’s so important to pay attention to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. For young adults, life is hectic, but it is absolutely imperative to make your health a priority. Do self exams, make sure to go to your doctor when you’re supposed to. The consequences are not worth it when doing the simple things can save you from enduring something much worse.

Don’t be embarrassed to see your doctor. It is much better to get the smallest thing checked out rather than putting it off and having it become exponentially worse, even if you believe it isn’t serious. 

Five months after surgery and treatment, I was back to doing all my favorite activities pain and carefree!

Symptoms

  • sudden, popping sensation in groin
  • felt small bump in groin
  • testicle began to shrink