In March 2013 just after I turned 21, I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. Originally the doctors thought it was food poisoning but sent me off for a colonoscopy and they confirmed it was Crohns. This was a massive change in my life, having to start taking medication and changing my entire diet. Slowly I started to improve in terms of Chrons symptoms, but really started to struggle big time with my mental health.
In the second half of 2015, I was constantly anxious and wasn’t in a good headspace at all. This led to a mental break-down and I knew I needed to do something to sort myself out. I opened up to one of my good mates at the time and told him what I was dealing with. I started seeing a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist to talk things through. At first, my mate was really supportive, however that soon changed and half of my friend group turned against me. I started receiving abusive messages, snapchats and emails from this so-called group of “mates”. Dealing with depression and chopping and changing anti-depressants, you feel like the world is going to end. Trying to keep my head above water and dealing with these unhelpful people at the same time was tough. I no longer thought I could open-up to any of my other mates for fear of rejection.
I remember one session with my psychologist rather well. She told me that I needed to distance myself from these people before I would start to improve mentally. I kind of thought ‘yeah right… like that’s going to work’. Months went by and I continued to interact with these toxic people and went deeper down the dark path. One night I was out at a bar in town and a guy tried to take a swing at me – turns out he was a good mate of these toxic people I had been hanging out with. That was the final straw for me, I knew I had to cut contact with this group, and fast.
I spent a lot of time at home by myself over the following months, worked hard to make new friends and had weekly sessions with my psychologist. I started making new supportive friends, went back to work and life started to get back on track. I discovered life was so much easier without these toxic people in it! At this point I also started going to the gym which I believe helped me immensely and pretty much saved my life.
Life was ticking along real well until March 2019. I had been feeling really tired for about a week and took a sick day off work. I rolled out of bed around lunchtime this day and jumped in the shower to try and wake myself up a bit. For the first time ever, I decided to check my testicles and unfortunately discovered a pea sized lump. All sorts were going through my head at the time, but deep down I had a gut feeling it wasn’t good. I made an appointment with my doctor for the next day – she didn’t think it was much to be concerned about, but I pushed to go for an ultrasound. I went for an ultrasound at the end of that week and the Sonographer indicated that things didn’t look good. By the time I’d walked back to my office, they were ringing saying that I needed to be referred to a urologist.
Luckily, I was able to get into see a Urologist that following week. When I arrived for this appointment, I was by myself and before I’d even had a chance to sit down, I was told that I had Testicular Cancer. The Urologist explained what would happen and that I would need to have my left testicle completely removed. I can remember going back to my car and calling my mum – and we both just burst into tears. Things from here moved quickly as the doctors don’t like to muck around. An appointment was made at the fertility clinic for the next week so that I could bank sperm in case I ever needed to use it down the track – I didn’t really expect to be dealing with this at the age of 26.
The first week of April I was booked in to have my left testicle removed. This was a pretty quick procedure – in and out of hospital within about 4 hours. I was lucky as there were no complications during the surgery. The real hard part came next – waiting for the results and to find out if I needed to have chemo. The results took about 3 weeks and I was offered an appointment with an Oncologist. The 3 weeks seemed to drag on and on – finally the day came around and mum and myself met with the Oncologist and his Registrar. They told me I was pretty lucky with Stage 1A testicular cancer and that I had narrowly escaped having to go through rounds of Chemo. As you could imagine, I was stoked!
From here they put me on an intensive monitoring plan where I would have blood tests monthly, hospital visits every 2 months and chest x-rays / CT scans every 6 months. I’m now just over 2 years down the track and everything is looking great with no sign of the cancer coming back (touch wood)!!