A 29-year-old testicular cancer survivor from Monmouthshire has shared his story to mark Men’s Health Month this November.
Ironman, triathlete, husband and testicular cancer survivor, James Smith, talked about his experience to encourage others to get checked if they notice anything unusual.
James is 29, from Abergavenny and a teacher. He has always been a keen sportsman and lover of the outdoors- climbing mountains, completing fitness challenges and playing rugby in his spare time.
Life was good for James- he was physically fit, had a great social life and got married in July last year.
Three months later, in October, James had been diagnosed with testicular cancer- a cancer most common in men in their late 20s and early 30s.
He said it started as a dull ache, and his wife urged him to go and get it checked out as the ache hadn’t gone away.
James said: “Within eight hours of seeing a doctor, I had a diagnosis- it all happened really fast. I always thought I was invincible, and it sounds cliché but it really can happen to anyone. I just knew I had to face it- I had no other choice.”
James had to have a testicle removed, followed by further chemotherapy. He endured this treatment through the more recent Covid-19 lockdown and was clinically vulnerable due to his treatment, which meant isolation for him and his wife during this challenging time.
“Without the support of my family and friends that I leaned on I don’t know how I would have got through this.
‘’I cannot urge men enough to get checked out if they feel anything unusual- get to know what your normal feels like. It could save your life.”
Louise Broadway, urology cancer nurse specialist at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, is also encouraging men to get checked.
She said: “Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in 1 of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicles. It’s important to be aware of what feels normal for you. Get to know your body and see a GP if you notice any changes.”