"It has become my mission to get as many men as I can to start checking themselves"
Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Aaron Watson from Bangor has a voice that many of you will recognise.
As a voice over artist, he is a familiar sound on your radio but this November Aaron is using his voice for a very different reason. Aaron is encouraging men across Northern Ireland to get checking their testicles. And there is a good reason why. When he was just 22 years old, Aaron was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Now 39, Aaron is cancer free and backing our Talking Balls campaign in the hope that his experience could save someone’s life. This is his story.
“The first sign that something wasn’t quite right was when I started to experience pain in my testicle.
“It took me a while, but I eventually went to see my GP and he thought it was probably a cyst but he wanted to be sure, so he sent me for a scan. At the scan, they checked the testicle I had the pain in and it looked fine. However, as I was there, the person doing the scan also checked the other testicle and that decision saved my life. They asked me if I had anyone with me and at that moment I knew this was going to be bad. My heart sank. It turned out the pain I was experiencing was actually due to a tumour in my other testicle.
“I can’t describe how I felt at the time. I was 22 and absolutely terrified. Thankfully, I was soon under the care of the incredible team at the Cancer Centre and in particular, the wonderful Dr McAleer. From the moment of my first consultation with Dr McAleer, he put me at ease and reassured me to the point that I knew I could get through it all. It was a really difficult time and my treatment included surgery to remove my testicle, but I managed to come out the other side.
“The team at the Cancer Centre were incredible. They fully looked after me, comforted me and most importantly, cured me. At the time I was told that I might not be able to have any children after my operation. My son is now 14 years old and a walking miracle in our eyes.
“I recently had the pleasure of having a coffee with Dr McAleer to say thank you for saving my life. By doing that something changed for me and I realised that I have an opportunity to use my experience, as difficult as it was at the time, to help others.
“It has become my mission to get as many men as I can to start checking themselves and that is why I’m really proud to support Friends of the Cancer Centre and its Talking Balls campaign.
“The name of the campaign resonated with me instantly as it’s exactly what we need to do more of; talking. Talking about our health, talking about how important it is to check ourselves and talking about what we should be looking out for when we do. If talking about my experience encourages even one man out there to check his testicles, I will be delighted as I know it could save their life. I also want to let people know that you can survive cancer. I’ve since learned that testicular cancer, when caught early, has really high survival rates. I’m walking proof that you can beat cancer and have a great, fulfilling life after it.
“So please, get checking.”
We're Talking Balls this November
This November we are calling on men across Northern Ireland to start Talking Balls and get checking themselves every month. To help, we’ve produced a handy step by step guide on how you can check yourself. Not only that, but we’ve also got a Talking Balls stress ball, the perfect reminder to get checking. Order your self-check card and ball here.