Mo Bro Matt sits in a barber chair
Mo Bro Matt shares his testicular cancer storyImage by: Nick Manuell
Mo Bro Matt sits in a barber chair
Mo Bro Matt stands proudly outside barber shop.
12 April 2023

Matt’s story: The importance of trusting your gut

Mo Bro
Matt Ball
4 minutes read time

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. We caught up with longtime Mo Bro Matt, who shared his testicular cancer diagnosis and treatment experience with us. The 39-year-old, ex-footballer and father of three had stomach pains and thankfully called a GP to get things checked out.

It wasn't the awakening I wanted on my 39th birthday, but it was a present in disguise.

I'd had some stomach pains during the night but initially shrugged it off as indigestion. When it cropped up again on Sunday and lingered until Monday, I knew something wasn't right.

I was hesitant but thought I'd make an appointment with the GP. I had a quick telehealth appointment with the doctor and he suggested I get an ultrasound on my stomach, just in case.

So I went to have the ultrasound and something in my stomach did in fact appear to be inflamed. It led them to suggest I get a CT scan. The scan showed that I had an inflamed lymph node, which can commonly be linked to the testicles. Again, another referral to get an ultrasound of my testicles. At this point, I still wasn't too concerned about everything that was happening. I mean, I hadn't felt any lumps down there.

I’ll never forget that phone call the next day – my wife was away for the weekend, and I was walking to the park with my 1-year-old daughter. It was my GP, who said “we found a small cancerous lump on your left testicle”.

The GP advised that the radiographer wasn't sure yet if it was testicular cancer or lymphoma, and recommended I book to see a specialist on Wednesday. Those four days were the most mentally challenging of my life, I didn't want to tell anyone till I'd met the specialist and had some clarity on what I was dealing with. I remember walking into the consultation thinking, "What is he going to tell me here?"

Fortunately, it was a positive experience, he outlined the situation and plan of attack, that either way it was going to be very treatable, but the first step was to book in for an operation to have the testicle removed and the lump analysed. The next day I met with the surgeon and the following Monday I was operated on.

The operation went well and by Thursday I received the results - it was the best possible case. I had seminoma, a form of testicular cancer, and in my case one that would be more successful to treat.

I had to keep an eye on the inflamed gland in my stomach though and a CT scan two months on revealed it was still inflamed, indicating the likely presence of some cancerous cells, so I was booked in for more surgery. In total thirty-one lymph nodes were removed from my stomach to ensure no more cancerous cells had spread any further.

Luckily, they hadn't - but geez the surgery was a lot more physically draining than I thought it would be. It felt like someone had taken a shovel, dug my stomach out, put it back in, and sewn me up again. It was a good eight weeks before I felt like my normal self again.

" My advice is; get ahead of any uncertainties or abnormalities. Make the call, and get checked out. At the very worst, you've wasted a phone call or a half-hour GP's appointment. "

Telling other people and my family about what I was going through was a really challenging experience. There were moments early on in particular, where I thought, I'd keep it to myself. The less you talk about it the more you can convince yourself it isn't really happening. But there's a benefit in sharing my story - for my own mates, family, and other men.

That's when I thought of raising money and awareness through Movember because I'd had the personal experience and thought I could now share my story and experience with others so that they know they are not alone.

Getting healthy, investing in your own physical and mental well-being, and acting on any problems is the best thing you can do. I was very lucky that I did make the call. Because after those first pains, they just went away, and I would've forgotten about them.

Get help, don't keep it to yourself.

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: Paragon Studio, Armadale VIC.