30-year-old given ‘life-changing’ cancer diagnosis after ‘accidentally’ finding symptoms

This Morning: Dr Chris explains testicular cancer symptoms

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In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Ashkan explained how his cancer diagnosis all started when his friend found a lump on his own testicle. Ashkan elaborated to say that he was initially shocked when his friend reached out to him, concerned about the lump he had found as usually “guys never really take anything seriously,” but something about the event made him feel uncomfortable. After finishing an episode of Gogglebox one night in April, he decided to check out his own testicles and by pure chance found a worrying lump on his own left testicle.

“I went to bed after Gogglebox and had a feel, and I just accidentally felt a lump on my left testicle,” Ashkan explained.

After calling 111, the young professional was advised to wait two weeks to see if the lump disappeared on its own accord, as it could have been due to a build up of sperm. But two weeks later and after a trip to the GP, Ashkan found himself having to have an ultrasound.

“I went for the ultrasound and that’s when I kind of started to worry as the person that was doing my ultrasound wasn’t really giving anything away.

“I started to panic and he said, ‘If you don’t hear anything back from your GP in the next few days give them a call.”

Despite his hesitancy about the reliability of the NHS, Ashkan received a call two hours later on the same day, referring him to a specialist. “I started panicking again then,” Ashkan explained.

“The next day my fiance booked me in to see a specialist privately, and the specialist said to me ‘I have been doing this for 25 years, you have testicular cancer. You are going to have to have the testicle removed next week’.”

The devastating news understandably took a toll on Ashkan, especially with how fast-paced the whole ordeal was. Within a week, Ashkan had found out he had cancer, and had his testicle removed, along with the two centimetre lump.

“It was really difficult. It was probably the first time in my life when I have not felt really confident. After I found out I messaged my group of friends and none of them could quite believe it.”

Despite his diagnosis and surgery, Ashkan was not risk free from cancer, and explained that for the next few years he has to go for checks and blood tests every three months. After two years this reduced to every six months.

“It is quite life changing, but you don’t realise until you’re in that kind of situation that so many other people around you have it. But that’s what was good about Movember, is that I got to read about the stories people have gone through and it was so important for me in the face of me being told I had cancer, and I had to go and do a fertility test and I might have to freeze my sperm – it was just mad.

“And you never think that the things you see in videos or films would happen to you personally. But in a time where guys don’t tend to talk about their feelings, it is an important thing to speak out.

“The scary thing about cancer is that it is completely painless and you just don’t know, until it’s grown considerably you don’t know what is going on.”

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Using his experience, Ashkan is urging men to take a short amount of time in the day to check their testicles, and believes nothing is more important than your health.

“I felt like I was invincible. I work in sales, I go to the gym four or five times a week, but then I found out I had cancer. It does really ground you. My way of dealing with it is just to tell everyone, and a problem shared is a problem halved.

When asked how he is now, Ashkan said that he still feels the experience has not digested for him properly. And whenever he goes to the toilet and see’s the aftermath of his surgery, it acts as a “constant reminder” of his sobering experience.

Movember, explains that it is extremely easy to check your own testicles, and works better if you are in the shower. After steaming your testicles so they relax, roll one testicle between your thumb and finger, checking for any changes or anything painful. Then repeat for the other testicle.

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Movember’s Global Director of Testicular Cancer, Sam Gledhill added: “Although testicular cancer is a relatively rare disease, it disproportionately affects younger men. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men and the ‘at risk’ age group is 18-34 years.

“If you’re a guy in your 20s or 30s, you should be getting to know your testicles. What they look like, what they feel like, and what’s normal for you down there. If something changes, starts to hurt, wasn’t there before or generally worries you – please don’t panic, but do get in front of a doctor and discuss it with them.”

The odds of surviving testicular cancer are extremely high, with around a 99 percent survival rate, but this may involve surgery or even radio or chemotherapy in some cases.

There is also the possibility that the cancer might spread to other parts of your body. This is known as metastatic cancer. The NHS explains that the most common place for testicular cancer to spread to is nearby lymph nodes in your tummy (abdomen).

Symptoms of metastatic testicular cancer can include:

  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing or spitting up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling and enlargement of male breasts
  • A lump or swelling in your neck
  • Lower back pain.

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