A Melbourne man is urging all young men to see their general practitioner (GP) regularly, after he ignored warning signs that led to a heartbreaking diagnosis.
Josh Robson, a civil construction worker, ignored a major alarm bell when he found a small lump on his right testicle two years ago.
For eight months, the then 28-year-old thought the abnormality was nothing to worry about. It was only when it became painful that Robson finally booked an appointment with his doctor.
“At first I thought it would go away, but I had a lack of education and thought I was invincible,” the now 30-year-old told FEMAIL.
Several weeks after his visit, Robson received news he never thought he would hear, with an oncologist revealing that he had testicular cancer.
According to the Cancer Council, testicular cancer is the second most common cancer in young men between the ages of 20 to 39-years-old.
There are two main types being seminoma and non-seminoma, with the first type developing more slowly than the latter.
For Australian men, one in 202 males are expected to get testicular cancer by the age of 85, with a 97 per cent chance of surviving at least five years.
Symptoms of the cancer can be difficult to identify, with the most common sign being painless swelling, a lump or an abnormal size or shape.
Less common symptoms include feelings of heaviness or unevenness in the scrotum and stomach, back, testicle or scrotum pain.
Aside from the lump, Robson recalls having bowel and stomach issues, however colonoscopy and blood test results revealed no cause for concern.
“It‘s so scary because not even some blood tests can pick up cancer sometimes – all my tests came back clear,” he said.
Robson was required to undergo further testing and scans to confirm the diagnosis before doctors removed his right testicle almost immediately after.
Two weeks post-operation, Robson learned the cancer had spread with his oncologist confirming a tennis ball-sized lump was growing in his stomach and tiny lumps on his lymph nodes.
Like most cancer treatments, the otherwise healthy tradie had to undergo chemotherapy, but had a choice in regards to how aggressive he wanted his treatment to be.
One drug came with the side effect of scarring the patient’s lungs, while the other required an extra 35 to 40 hours of treatment.
As a triathlete, Robson took the second option, enduring four cycles of chemo over 12 weeks.
Now 30-years-old, Robson is in remission with the lump in his stomach the size of a marble but otherwise no other indications of cancer.
Robson said his determination to do a triathlon again inspired him to pursue the treatment, and he trained as much as he could throughout the course of receiving chemo as part of his “pact”.
“My brother said if I trained all through chemo he would sign up for the Iron Man triathlon, which he did when I finished out in June 13, 2022,” he said.
“We really motivated each other and wanted to turn a major adversity into something great.”
Upon recovering, Robson and his brother completed a 226km triathlon, which involved 3.8km of swimming, 180km of cycling and 42.2km of running.
“It was a very emotional moment for me and was one of the most special things I’ve ever seen – all our friends and family were there cheering us on,” he said.
“Life can change in an instant, so appreciate every day and take care of your health.”
Men are encouraged to regularly perform self-checks on their testicles and to be on alert for any abnormalities, as there is no other screening method for testicular cancer.
The Cancer Council suggests looking for any lumps, pain, swelling or hardness while having a warm shower or bath.
While there’s no way to prevent it, some men are at higher risk of developing testicular cancer if they have previously had the condition, have undescended testicles, have family members who have had it or have HIV or AIDS.
Testicular Cancer is one of the most curable cancers if found early.