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Dan's story

I bounced back. Sadly, many men aren’t quite so lucky

26th June 2020

Dan, a Royal Marine from the North-East of Scotland, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2017 when he was just 25 years old. An avid footballer and gym-goer, Dan was happy, healthy, and enjoying life, spending as much time as possible with family and friends. But then a devastating diagnosis put his life on hold.

“I was feeling great, in terrific shape and performing well in sport. But then I found a lump."

When the doctor told me that there was a 99% chance that it was cancerous, I was really taken aback. My family has fortunately never been affected by cancer, so it definitely came as quite a shock.

I was still living at home when I was diagnosed, and I was so worried that I’d make my mum upset. So, I chose not to tell anyone about my diagnosis until I knew a little bit more. It was hard keeping it to myself, but I knew it would have been harder telling everyone.

Unfortunately, my plan didn’t quite work out. When I visited my doctor and was told that surgery would be required, I decided it was time to open up and tell my close friends and family what I had been going through, and what I was about to endure.

A photo of Dan at night on holiday
A photo of Dan sitting on his hospital bed making the 'OK' sign

“The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, so just eight weeks after my operation, I started chemotherapy."

Although it doesn’t seem like long, it was a long and tough wait before I could start my treatment. I really struggled with not being able to go to work - my life felt as though it was on hold. Going from being a Royal Marine and a life full of routine, surrounded by my friends and colleagues, to having to wait around at home…I felt really lost.

But once I recovered from my operation, I was able to return to the gym. It really helped me get through my treatment, psychologically, as continuing to do so helped me keep a positive mind.

"12 weeks later, when I was told the cancer had gone away and that I was in remission, I was overwhelmed, grateful and actually lost for words."

At the time, I was taking part in a fashion show called Brave where I was surrounded by a dozen men - of all ages - and all with their own experiences of cancer. It was an immensely inspiring time and they were all overjoyed for me when I told them. It was really emotional and a time that I won’t forget.  

I’m back at work now, working in the heavy weapons branch of the Royal Marines. And now that I’m okay, I feel like it’s my duty to raise awareness and share my story to hopefully help other men from my experiences.

Please, familiarise yourself with the common signs of cancer and contact your GP with any symptoms. When caught early, cancer treatment is more likely to be successful – and I know first-hand that if it weren’t for cancer research then I wouldn’t be here today. Unfortunately, many aren’t quite so lucky.

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