Lance Armstrong is only one of thousands of mostly young men who have battled testicular cancer and won. While the cyclist’s life after cancer story has been far more glamorous, lots of ordinary guys have had the disease threaten their manhood.
Ben Peacock told dailyRx News in an email about the shock, the intensity, the mental toll and ultimate joy of having testicular cancer. He was so moved by the experience that he wrote a book about it. Lessons From My Left Testicle takes a humorous approach.
Ben summarized his story in an email to us:
“Finding out I had cancer is like being struck in the head with a gong. Ears ring, eyes blur and all I could think about was that I would have to let go of everything I value in the world. I called my wife and told her the news. It was our first wedding anniversary.
“Of course, testicular cancer is not a death sentence. Ninety-five percent of people survive. In hindsight, it feels like I was always meant to live. It's almost impossible to reconcile that at the time (and of course you don't find out until later). If I were to say you have a one in 10 chance of dying in the next twelve months, it would shake your world.
“The treatment was intense. Lots of needles, loss of a testicle and a big operation called an RPLND that left me unable to stand up straight for six weeks. I have a scar a foot long from it that people now stare at as I walk down the beach.
“But the hardest part wasn't the pain, that's par for the course... it's the not knowing. Will I lose both testicles or just one? Had it spread? Yes... how much? Will I be able to have kids? Will the chemo work? Every stage unravels in front of you like from the fog. Bad news you can deal with... the waiting is hardest part.
“I was 33 when I was diagnosed and today I'm 40. I have two kids and a new way of looking at life. So often testicular cancer is seen by professionals as 'you'll be alright,' but I think that underestimates some of the mental impact it can have.
“If I’d been born in any other of the hundreds of thousands of generations who have walked this earth, there would have been no cure, and I'd be dead. I'm lucky to be here, and that makes me so much more grateful for what I've got.
“I try to give back every day, maybe as an offering to the world to please keep me here a little longer, because I now understand a long life is not a given, it's something we're lucky to enjoy.”
Ben Peacock now lives in Bondi Beach, Australia, where he is a writer, guitar owner, surfer and cancer survivor. When he's not working, Ben runs a company called Republic of Everyone, which celebrates and promotes all the good things in this world - including health, well being, sustainability and cancer charities.