As a teenager, I was active in football and worked out all the time. One afternoon in the shower, I noticed a lump in one of my testicles. I convinced myself that it was nothing—healthy people can’t get cancer, right? I kept an eye on it and tried to avoid panicking for about three months. That is, until I started wondering how I would explain the lump to women and decided to go get checked out. My doctor did a manual exam and diagnosed it as a swollen gland. He assured me it was nothing to worry about. I knew the lump wasn’t normal for me, and I was worried since it had persisted for months, so I asked the doctor what the lump would feel like if it was cancer. He said tumors are usually free-floating, hard, and change shape. I knew the lump met each of those three criteria, but I thought I must be imagining things. This kept me from pointing them out to the doctor or asking for more testing.
Over the next six months, the pea-sized lump grew to the size of two golf balls. My previously subtle symptom was now causing me pain to the point of losing sleep, so I confided in my twin brother and asked him what he thought I should do. I took his advice and went to a different doctor who shared my concern and ordered a biopsy. The results showed I had stage III testicular cancer. I was actually relieved to know that I wasn’t crazy, and my instincts about the lump being abnormal were correct. After about a year of treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation to treat the cancer spreading to my lymph nodes, I was finally cancer-free! It took almost two years from when I recognized the first symptom.
Through this experience, I’ve learned how important it is to advocate for yourself. My body was trying to tell me something, but I chose to listen to the doctor when he said it was nothing. After struggling with embarrassment for months, I finally faced the awkward situation and was able to get the correct diagnosis. If you notice a subtle and persistent health change, share it with a doctor and stand up for yourself if you disagree with their diagnosis.
- found a lump on testicle during a self-exam
- pain in testicle