Mo Bro Ben sits in a barber chair at Brother Wolf barbershop, St. Kilda.
Ben shares his story and proves testicular cancer isn't the end.Image by: Nick Manuell
Mo Bro Ben sits in a barber chair at Brother Wolf barbershop, St. Kilda.
Mo Bro Ben stands outside Brother Wolf barbershop as a tram passes by.
28 April 2023

Ben's story: The testicular cancer gauntlet

Mo Bro and Nuts & Bolts guide
Benjamin Reade
5 minutes read time

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. We caught up with long-time Mo Bro and Nuts & Bolts guide, Ben to talk about his story. 10 years after his diagnosis, Ben is now happily married and a proud father of two – living proof that life truly can blossom after testicular cancer.

My Movember journey started in 2009 when a good friend of mine took his life. My friends and I orgasnised an event at a bar to celebrate his life - and to help us deal with the taboo about men never talking about their feelings.

In 2012, I was a fit young man who was living in London with my then-girlfriend, now wife, Lucy. I was working for a law firm, and everything seemed to be going great. Until St. Patrick's Day that year, when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

I noticed that my right testicle was a bit more "solid" than my left one. I didn't feel any lumps or pain or soreness or anything like that. I made an appointment to see the in-house doctor at work. I figured at worst; it was fifteen minutes of my time wasted.

I was young, fit, healthy and in my early 30s. The doctor said I should have an ultrasound on my testicles just in case. The local hospital had an opening the next day and I went. Pants down, cold gel on, ultrasound doing its thing.

I was waiting for what seemed like forever, until the radiographer appeared and said I needed to see a surgeon, now. So, we walked into the surgeon's office, and he said, "You have a 2cm tumour in your testicle and we need to operate."

I had surgery a few days later and I was into post-surgery assessment straight after. I was doing CT scans, blood tests, and X-rays as part of my post-surgery treatment; and it was gruelling. Thankfully, my cancer was diagnosed early enough that it hadn't spread and I was able to avoid more invasive treatment such as chemotherapy.

What struck me was life returned to normal so fast - especially after hearing such devastating news. After a few weeks, I was able to start exercising, having sex, and going back to work. The support from Lucy was invaluable and I thank her for it.

Only recently I overheard Lucy telling another younger friend diagnosed unexpectedly with cervical cancer that for her, the shock of the initial diagnosis and the turmoil that followed was the hardest part and what has really stayed with her all these years later.

But during those weeks, while the physical scars were healing - the mental scars weren't. Every single month, when undergoing surveillance testing, it felt like I was playing Russian roulette. Was the cancer going to come back? The chances were low, but that sort of logic doesn't go through your mind. When it comes to mental scars, you need to let yourself feel mortal and feel fear; but remind yourself of the facts.

" While testicular cancer is common among younger men, in most cases it’s also very treatable. "

Within 18 months, I ran the New York Marathon with ten other Mo Bros. I joined a space for fellow cancer survivors and Mo Bros to become a support group both over Facebook and in real life. Even though I moved back to Australia, we message each other all the time. 10 years on - I'm glad to say, I'm in full remission. I've even had two kids since and become a Movember Nuts and Bolts guide to help others through their cancer journeys.

I want to use my experience so other men who've been diagnosed with testicular cancer know they have a shoulder to lean on. I speak to young and older men to walk them through the process. Then they can guide others. I think we're now on our third generation of guides.

I was also invited to join the Movember Global Action Committee for Cancer to help direct the funding to cancer research with other oncologists from around the world - I'm doing everything I can to give back to the community. I've even travelled to Los Angeles to meet with other committee members, which has been incredible.

The camaraderie is the best bit about being part of the Movember family. Helping other men through their journey. It’s very cathartic. I help others and they help me. It’s a two-way street.

If you're a man going through it, there are always people you can talk to. I'm proud to say I'm one of them. The more we talk about it, the more people become aware of testicular cancer. The more we talk about it the more we go and get checked out. Testicular cancer isn't a death sentence. It can be treated, and you can overcome it.

Testicular cancer is the #1 cancer in younger guys. But good news: it's highly curable when caught early. Guys across the world are getting to know their nuts and you can too.

This Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, learn how to give your nuts a feel. Get to know what's normal for you. So if you notice a change - or that something doesn't feel right - you'll know to act on it. Click HERE to learn more.

Local featured barber shop: Brother Wolf, St. Kilda VIC.