November is Men’s Health Month, and we spoke to local Ironman, triathlete, husband and Testicular Cancer survivor, James Smith, to hear about his inspirational story.
James is 29, from Abergavenny and a teacher. He has always been a keen sportsman and lover of the outdoors- climbing mountains, completing fitness challenges and playing rugby in his spare time.
Life was good for James- he was physically fit, had a great social life and got married in July last year. Three months later in October, James had been diagnosed with Testicular Cancer- a cancer most common in men in their late 20’s and early 30’s. He said it started as a dull ache, and his wife urged him to go and get it checked out as the ache hadn’t gone away.
James said: “Within 8 hours of seeing a doctor, I had a diagnosis- it all happened really fast. I always thought I was invincible, and it sounds cliché, but it really can happen to anyone. I just knew I had to face it- I had no other choice.”
James had to have a testicle removed, followed by further chemotherapy. He endured this treatment through the more recent COVID-19 lockdown and was clinically vulnerable due to his treatment, which meant isolation for him and his wife during this challenging time.
“Without the support of my family and friends that I leaned on I don’t know how I would have got through this. I cannot urge men enough to get checked out if they feel anything unusual- get to know what your normal feels like. It could save your life.”
Louise Broadway, Urology Cancer Nurse Specialist at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, also encouraged men to check themselves regularly.
She said: “Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in 1 of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicles. It's important to be aware of what feels normal for you. Get to know your body and see a GP if you notice any changes.”
You can find guidance on symptoms and treatment for Testicular Cancer via NHS guidance here: NHS 111 Wales - Health A-Z : Cancer of the testicle