Father of two Raymond Smith had never heard of testicular cancer until he was diagnosed with it two months ago.
Now, the 29-year-old Cambridge Gardens supermarket manager is on a mission to raise awareness for the disease he knew nothing about just a matter of months ago.
It was September 9 and Mr Smith was living a normal life with his wife Amanda and their two kids Lachlan, six, and Tayla, five, when he discovered something abnormal with his testicles.
“I noticed a firmness of the left testis, a small abnormal bump, and I thought I’d leave it for a week in the hope it might go away,” Mr Smith said.
“Although it was quite embarrassing I decided to visit my GP on September 18 to get checked. My doctor seemed a bit concerned so she arranged an ultrasound for the next day.
“An hour after the ultrasound I was told I needed a CT scan because there were some concerns. My results were sent back to my GP that afternoon because of the concern and she informed me it was most likely testicular cancer. It was pretty confronting.”
Upon hearing the news Mr Smith was in a state of shock, thinking to himself, how did he go from a carefree dad with two beautiful children to a man living with cancer?
“When I was told I had cancer I was stone cold, feeling empty and I didn’t know what to do. I went blank,” he said.
“You don’t expect it at 29 and being a healthy male.
“I messaged my wife because she was at work and told my kids I had to have the ‘bad bit’ cut out of me because they wouldn’t know what cancer is. I said I was going to be sore and had to take it easy and my kids gave me cuddles.”
It was only a matter of days after Mr Smith’s diagnosis that he underwent surgery to remove his left testis and the chord connected to it, the epididymis.
“My testicular cancer was stage one… I had a choice to have no treatment after the surgery or take a high dose of chemotherapy, which I’m doing this Friday,” Mr Smith said.
“The five-year survival rate of my cancer is a 96 to 98 per cent with a one in eight chance it won’t return at all.”
With 700 Australian men diagnosed with testicular cancer each year, Mr Smith thought it was important to let fellow local men know that testicular cancer can happen to anyone at any time.
“Until I got it, I didn’t even know you could get cancer in that part of your body because there wasn’t enough awareness about it,” he said.
“My testicles didn’t look enlarged, it was only by touch did I sense something was wrong. There was no pain and that’s part of the problem because a lot of men don’t do anything unless there’s pain and by the later stages it can be too late.
“I want to let men know, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t be shy about it and don’t be embarrassed to have it checked because it could save your life… it saved mine.”