Understanding Testicular Cancer
- Everyone thought Tryston Crawford had the stomach bug, but scans would later show that his symptoms were attributable to stage 3 testicular cancer. He died about two weeks after his diagnosis.
- Self examinations are incredibly important when it comes to screening for testicular cancer. Men aged 15 to 55 should perform a monthly self-examination to find any changes in the testes that might indicate cancer at an early stage.
- Coping with the loss of a loved one to cancer is incredibly challenging, but moving forward with the lessons your loved one shared and remembering you don’t have to forget them to move forward can be a great place to start.
Crawford was diagnosed with stage 3c testicular cancer on Oct. 29, 2021. Then, on Nov. 1, 2021, a CT scan revealed that the cancer had spread.Read More
Crawford had no family history of cancer and was normally healthy and energetic with a smile on his face. To say that him and his family were shocked and devastated would be an understatement. And though he was ready to fight the disease, Crawford passed away on Nov. 13 at the age of 23 as he was planning for a grueling chemotherapy regimen post surgery.
“God took him home. And we – we were distraught,” Crawford’s father said. “We begged for that not to happen. But that was God’s plan.”
Now, Crawford’s parents are trying to process the grief they feel over the loss of their caring son with a passion for Children’s ministry while also educate others about the disease by sharing his story. They’ve created an organization called Tryston’s Hope to explain what happened to their son and raise money that will go towards increasing awareness for testicular cancer, offering hope for families impacted by cancer and sharing the gospel with children and their families
“We were mad, angry, bitter and did not understand. But this is not the end of Tryston’s story,” the organization’s bio reads.
Understanding Testicular Cancer
A testicular cancer diagnosis is rare, but it is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in young men. Depending on the stage, the disease is considered extremely treatable. Treatment options can include chemotherapy and radiation, but often the first line of treatment is surgery to remove the testicle which contains the cancerous cells.
Symptoms of testicular cancer can be subtle. Some people may even confuse the early symptoms such as a small mass in their testicle as an injury. But when these signs are dismissed, the cancer can grow and become worse.
“It’s not uncommon to see men come in with masses on their scrotum and have inflammation of the scrotal wall; they develop pain as a result. A lump is the most common symptom of testicular cancer,” Dr. Edwin Posadas, the medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, previously told SurvivorNet.
Dr. Posadas says some men may even notice blood in their ejaculate as a result of testicular cancer. “This symptom is less common, but always bad,” he said.
- Breast growth or soreness
- Early puberty in boys
- Low back pain (a potential symptom of advanced testicular cancer)
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or a cough (a potential symptom of advanced testicular cancer)
- Belly pain – like in the case of Crawford (a potential symptom of advanced testicular cancer)
- Headaches or confusion (a potential symptom of advanced testicular cancer)
Dr. Posadas urges young men to seek medical care if they are having symptoms. “Most men under the age of 40 tend not to think about seeing a doctor – they need to know to advocate for themselves,” he said.
Screening for Testicular Cancer
Testicular self-examination is one way to screen for this disease, Dr. Posadas says.
“It takes less than a minute,” Dr. Posadas previously told SurvivorNet. “Rub testicles through your fingers – looking for any sore areas. Rub the top of the testicle, particularly the delicate epididymis. (The epididymis is a tube at the back of the testicles which stores and carries sperm.)
“Don’t squeeze real hard on there… [You should] look for a smoother feel; if you feel a hard nodule on there, you may require blood work from a urologist. [Testicular cancer] is highly curable, even when it’s advanced.”
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Bradley McGregor, clinical director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, also emphasized the importance of self-examinations.
“It is recommended that men aged 15 to 55 perform a monthly self-examination to find any changes to help find the cancer at an early stage,” Dr. McGregor said. And if someone spots any of the early symptoms, “he should visit his doctor immediately.” It’s important to be aware of your body and get in touch with a doctor if you notice anything unusual.
“Testicular cancer commonly occurs from ages 20-45, but it can occur at any age,” Dr. McGregor continued. “The highest risk factor for testicular cancer is a history of cryptorchidism, an undescended testicle, where the testicle does not move down into the scrotum before birth. Men with a family history of testicular cancer are at increased risk as well. No lifestyle changes have been shown to definitively reduce risk of testicular cancer.”
Losing a Loved One to Cancer
As Crawford’s parents can surely attest to, coping after the loss of a loved one to cancer is never going to be an easy journey. But remembering all the wonderful ways your loved one enriched your life and moving on from there can be such a powerful way to move forward.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Caleb Farley talked about his mother’s battle with breast cancer and how he opted out of his position as a cornerback for the Virginia Tech Hokies due to COVID-19 concerns. Having lost his mom to breast cancer in 2018, he knew he wanted to be extra careful during the pandemic.
Farley announced the news of his opt-out in an Instagram video saying, in part, “I cannot afford to lose another parent or loved one… Though the competitor in me badly wants to play this season, I cannot ignore what’s going on in my heart, and I must make the decision that brings me the most peace.”
Farley trained for the NFL draft instead of playing for Virginia Tech, and his efforts paid off. He was selected by the Tennessee Titans as the number 22 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.
Farley’s mother fought two battles with cancer. He watched as she went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy while still working and taking care of her family. Although his “superhero” mother will not get to see him play in the NFL, Farley will take many lessons he learned from her and apply them to whatever challenges he faces in life moving forward.
“My mother raised me to be very religious, very God-conscious. That’s been everything to me, and my life. That’s like the building blocks of my, of my life,” Farley told SurvivorNet. “Anything that’s happened to me, any adversity, any good times, any bad times, I’ve always kind of stood on that rock of faith. I can’t thank her enough for how she raised me and because it was her who gave me all of that, um, spiritually, she, she just filled my heart with love and joy. I’ve had a happy life because of her.”
Doug Wendt also lost a loved one to cancer. He told SurvivorNet that after losing his wife, Alice, to a two-year battle with ovarian cancer, he’ll never really get over losing her, but he does hope to move forward.
“We’re never gonna move on, I don’t even think I want to move on, but I do want to move forward,” Doug said. “That’s an important distinction and I encourage anybody who goes through this journey as a caregiver and then has to face loss, to think very carefully about how to move forward.”