A man who has a family and a future, five years on from his testicular cancer diagnosis, has spoken of his gratitude.
Jack Williams, 33, a supporter of Worldwide Cancer Research, credits research and early detection with his positive outcome after losing his dad and both grandfathers to cancer. Surviving the disease allowed him and his wife Catherine to start a family and recently welcome a second child, Toby, into the world.
Jack, who has raised over £2,000 for the charity to help start new cancer cures, was just 28 when he found a lump in his testicle. His family’s experience of cancer led him to get it checked, and as the lump was found early, it was able to be removed with no further treatment required.
Thanks to research advancements, the ten year UK survival rate for testicular cancer is now over 90 per cent.
Since it was founded in 1979, the UK charity Worldwide Cancer Research has funded the brightest minds in cancer research across the world to make breakthroughs that have contributed to improved survival rates – investing over £800,000 into 9 projects relating to finding new treatments for testicular cancer.
Jack from Solihull, but now based in north Wales, said:
“When I first found the lump in my testicle, I kept it to myself, but then I remembered the promise I’d made to my dad when he was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer – that I would take any symptoms seriously.
“After I, quite literally, sat on it for a few weeks before speaking to my girlfriend, I finally plucked up the courage to tell her, and she said if I wanted to go camping that weekend, I had to make an appointment to get it checked out first. As I was en route to the Lake District, I got a call from my GP to say that he suspected it could be cancer.
“My only real relationship with cancer was one where people died, so when I heard that I had it, my first thought was ‘oh this is it then’. It was all a whirlwind after that phone call – a week later, I was in hospital for scans, and less than a month after my first visit to the GP, the lump was removed.
“Mentally, things actually got tougher after the surgery, as I didn’t find out conclusively whether it was cancerous for around six months and whether or not I would require further treatment.
“I’ve been told that if I’d got testicular cancer 40 years ago, I would have had a less than five per cent chance of survival, but now it’s more than 95 per cent – which is all down to the incredible work of charities like Worldwide Cancer Research who have helped change the outcomes of the disease.
“Personally, I was very lucky in my experience with cancer as it was found so early, I didn’t need chemotherapy. I only wish the outcome could have been as positive for my dad and grandfathers.
“For most cancers, time can be your biggest asset. My dad did not act quickly, he had symptoms of bowel cancer for months, and when he finally went to get checked, he was told he only had six months to live. Don’t be a hero, it’s really important that you reach out to someone if you’re worried or concerned. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a doctor; I went to my girlfriend, who was able to provide me with the support and help me take the first step. It’s so important to start that conversation.”
Talking about fatherhood after a testicular cancer diagnosis, Jack said:
“Finding out that George, now two, was on the way felt like the real victory. Cancer just feels like it’s out to scupper all your plans, so to have firstly survived, and then to find out we could still have a family, winning is the only way to describe it. For me, surviving cancer was the easy part!”
Dr Helen Rippon, CEO, Worldwide Cancer Research, said:
“Testicular cancer affects a huge number of men, but UK survival rates have made impressive jumps thanks to research funded by charities like Worldwide Cancer Research. Since the early 1970s, the mortality rate for testicular cancer has decreased by 84 per cent, thanks to both early detection and advancements in treatment.
“For other cancers, survival rates still need to be improved, which is why it’s vital that we fund research into any type of cancer.
“We’d like to say a massive thank you to Jack for sharing his powerful story and to all our Curestarters, who make this vital investment possible. Together we can end cancer by starting new cancer cures worldwide.”
For more information about Worldwide Cancer Research or to find out how you can help start new cancer cures, please visit: https://www.worldwidecancerresearch.org/support-us/donate/.