Keith Denham, diagnosed at 34

I was 34 and life couldn’t have been more perfect. A great career which had led me to success I’d never dreamed of, a perfect family, including two extraordinary young kids, and the best group of friends. Life seemed to have a feeling of invincibility!

So, why would that lump and slight pain in my left testicle be anything important? I had every excuse to justify its existence. After several weeks of it growing, I even looked online at testicular cancer symptoms and I found a few on the list that I DIDN’T have. That was justification enough for me to not do anything. Finally, after three months, my tumor had increased to the size of a peach and it was painful to wear anything other than the loosest fitting pants. So, I finally went to the doctor.

Somehow, my ignorance was so great to the identification of this most obvious problem, that I was still surprised when told I had a 7 centimeter, fast-growing tumor that required surgery within days and a treatment program to follow that ended up being a “moderate” cycle of chemotherapy.

“I was not very educated about the signs of cancer and let this go untreated longer than I should have.”

I would love it if I could say the story ends there. In fact, shortly after chemo, I vigorously rushed back into shape, ran two marathons, and went on a crusade telling anyone that would listen that I was alive because of advances in treatment and a tremendous amount of luck that the large, fast-growing tumor that I ignored didn’t spread. And consequently, I was urging my loved ones to become educated on the signs of cancer and be much more vigilant than I in paying attention to your body.

But three years later, at a regular check-up with my oncologist, a tumor was detected in my lymph nodes in my back. The cancer had spread and I’d relapsed. I needed an intensive radiation treatment program that was successful for only six months. The second relapse was caught extremely early, which allowed me to have one final shot to fight the battle through a very aggressive chemotherapy regimen. That treatment’s been successful and kept me cancer free for over three years. But the toll that the multiple relapses caused was intense. I no longer have the ability to have more children.

Breaking the news to my parents and children about relapses they prayed wouldn’t occur was horrific. And I truly believe that if I’d been smarter about taking care of this issue from the beginning, I wouldn’t have given this tumor months to spread around my body.

I was not very educated about the signs of cancer and let this go untreated longer than I should have. I’m still unbelievably blessed and fortunate to have a fantastic prognosis after all of this. One solace is that hopefully I can continue to help others be smarter about their health and avoid some of my challenges.

Learn how to do a testicular self-exam. If you notice something wrong, or any symptom that persists for longer than two weeks, go see your doctor.


  • slightly painful lump on right testicle