Exactly three years ago I had cancer, but I didn’t know it yet. It wouldn’t be until the beginning of that December that I’d feel the lump. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with stage 2 testicular cancer. On Christmas Eve, I had the testicle removed. Chemo would start in just a few short weeks…
The day before chemo began, my nurse called to see how I was feeling. The conversation started with normal holiday niceties, but quickly took a turn. She said she had some bad news. I laughed and said, “Bad news? How could this get any worse?” She said, “There’s a nationwide shortage of a very important ingredient of your chemotherapy. We’ll need to go with a different chemo cocktail. It will still kill the cancer, but it’s not as strong. You’ll need to go one more round.”
[“One more round” was five more days of intravenous chemo, with multiple blood tests, more side effects and 3 more weeks out of work.]
I couldn’t believe it. I got angry. I started a blog to document the ordeal. The blog got some national attention, so I used it to raise money for cancer research and demystify the cancer no guy wants. To up the ante, I challenged myself to ride my road bike in my basement, attached to a stationary trainer, every single day through chemo, no matter what. And that’s exactly what I did.
Eventually, my hair fell out, my sweat smelled like chemicals and I was puffy from the steroids. But I rode every single day. And every day, I wrote about the ordeal for the world to see—all in an effort to raise awareness for men’s health issues—and about $34,000 for cancer research.
Fast-forward to the present—over two years later, I’m still cancer-free. And I’m a dad! Our son, Jack, was born in August.
My story has a happy ending, and I’m lucky I found the cancer when I did. But the story could have been shorter. Much shorter. My cancer crusade could have come and gone in a matter of weeks, not months.
Had I found the lump even a few days sooner, it could have still been stage 1 (contained within the testicle) and my story would have gone something like this:
Three years ago, I found a lump. It was cancerous, but I found it soon enough, so all I had to do was have the testicle removed. The End.
What could have made that story a reality? Awareness. Had I known how important it was to check with regularity, I would have caught it sooner.
A moustache can bring that kind of awareness. That’s why Wheaties® is proud to be involved with Movember and the good it brings to the world. One Mo at a time.
Andy Thieman is the Creative Lead at General Mills, Inc.
To learn more about Movember visit us.movember.com