This Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, we are encouraging men across Northern Ireland to check their testicles regularly. As part of our Talking Balls campaign, the charity has produced a Talking Balls self-check card, which has a step-by-step guide on how men can carry out an examination in just a few minutes.
Mel McNally – Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Testicular Cancer CNS
The campaign was developed in partnership with Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Urology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Mel. As the only nurse of her kind in Northern Ireland, Mel provides care for testicular cancer patients and their families.
Mel has shared more about the care she provides:
“Specialising in care for men affected by testicular cancer, I know how vital it is that they are provided with physical, mental and emotional support. Our patient cohort will primarily come from the 15-49 age bracket, and for young men, a cancer diagnosis can be particularly difficult to deal with.
“Testicular cancer has one of the highest survival rates of any cancer in NI, and the outcomes are extremely good if it is caught early. I know that the support I offer to men and their families will equip them to recover from their experiences.”
Talking Balls with Stephen & Aaron
Stephen Clegg (48) and Aaron Watson (41) both have first-hand experience of testicular cancer. They are sharing their experiences in the hope that it will encourage more men to carry out a self-check.
As Stephen explains, his diagnosis in 2020 came as a shock:
“After feeling unwell whilst on holiday, and upon returning to Northern Ireland, I found that my right testicle was a bit swollen. I immediately made an appointment to see my GP. Initially, my doctor thought it could be a UTI and gave me a course of antibiotics, but after 2 weeks I didn’t feel any improvement so I went back to my GP and he made a red flag referral to the hospital.
“The care I’ve received from the team in the Cancer Centre has been excellent. I am being monitored regularly by the team at the Cancer Centre, including Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Testicular Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist who is on hand if I have any queries or concerns.
“I used to be one of those men who didn’t talk about my health or anything private. Now, I would openly tell any man to check themselves regularly. If there is something wrong, the earlier you catch it, the sooner treatment can start and that can make a huge difference.”
In a strange coincidence, Stephen’s neighbour and friend Aaron was starting to share his story with our Talking Balls campaign. Aaron was diagnosed with testicular cancer himself at just 22 years old. He explains:
“A few months after Stephen’s surgery, I bumped into him, and thankfully he told me about his diagnosis. I couldn’t believe it, and told Stephen that I’d gone through exactly the same experience, he wasn’t alone. I chatted about the work I had been doing with Friends of the Cancer Centre and its Talking Balls campaign, sharing my story to encourage men to check their testicles.
“Testicular cancer is a subject that many people are uncomfortable talking about. It is vitally important that we have this conversation. It is very treatable when caught early and it has high survival rates, but the key is early diagnosis. I am incredibly proud to be an ambassador for Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Talking Balls campaign. By sharing my story, and Stephen sharing his, I know we will make a difference to someone out there and hopefully save a life.”
Get Talking Balls with us for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month
You can get your own Talking Balls self-check cards from our online shop: Talking Balls Self-check Card and Stress Ball – Friends of the Cancer Centre