April 25th, 2016

Diagnosed at 26, Andrew Carlin has some words to share on the shock of diagnosis, finding support, and what comes after.

Testicular cancer at 26. What next?
Andrew Carlin was diagnosed with testicular cancer at 26. As Testicular Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close he has some words to share on the shock of diagnosis, the importance of finding support, and what happens next. 

"At the moment of diagnosis I felt a complete and utter shock, lack of comprehension, the inability to understand anything that was being said to me. Hearing the “C” word is one thing, but then you’re faced with all of these medical terms, percentages, decisions to make and the fact that with testicular cancer they want to operate immediately. 

The worst is when you ask why or how did I get this and no one can tell you, there is no medical history, no genetic predisposition when it comes to being diagnosed with testicular cancer. No one can tell you why. 

I was 26 years young, on autopilot living in a nightmare. I was so fortunate to have an amazing support network of my parents, girlfriend (now wife) and an uncle who is a doctor and cancer researcher to help me understand and make decisions that would impact the rest of my life.

When it came to dealing with life after diagnosis, speaking openly about the physical and emotional experience has been front and centre. Two weeks after my diagnosis while I was still healing from my operation, with a lot of unknowns still very much up in the air, I got out there and spoke in front of 50 male and female cancer supporters from the ages of 21–35 for an organization called Imerman Angels, an organization I still support 10 years later. I find speaking about it one-on-one, in groups or formal settings, has had the most positive impact on me. 

Part of it is because I was so lucky. I often think about why and how was I so lucky to have caught my very aggressive diagnosis so early and because of this I MUST give back, I MUST speak openly and do everything I can to spread the word about a very serious topic that men neglect to learn about or talk about.    

As a testicular cancer survivor I want men to know they aren’t indestructible. A lot of younger guys don’t think they can be faced with a life threatening disease, but it can happen to anyone. Listen to your body, and if something doesn’t feel right, get checked. It saved my life."

Early detection is key. This Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, get to know your testicles and make it part of your routine.