‘It’s time to break the silence’: A personal quest to end stigma around testicular cancer

Matilda Hasell and Daniel Simson. Picture: Andrew Thiis-Evensen

By ANDREA THIIS-EVENSEN

A Monash University student is trying to end the stigma around testicular cancer after her boyfriend was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year.

Matilda Hasell’s boyfriend Daniel Simson was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer, the second most common cancer among young men, almost two months ago.

“When I found out about Daniel I wanted to do something to help out, and I started promoting facts about testicular cancer and shared what we were going through,” she said.

Ms Hasell is raising awareness around testicular cancer through an Instagram campaign and hopes to end the stigma around the disease that can prevent men from opening up about their experience.

“I did not know anything about testicular cancer when Daniel got diagnosed, and I think not many people do,” she said.

“I feel like maybe Daniel would have gone and got it checked quicker if we had known what it was going to entail.”

Mr Simson found a lump in the middle of March, and his doctor told him he was confident the cancer was stage one and the 22-year-old had “nothing to worry about”. 

“If it’s only stage one then all you need is a surgery but it had spread to my back. I had a lump on my back,” Mr Simson said. 

Mr Simson is now going through chemotherapy, and said that he might have delayed going to the doctor if he hadn’t been honest about the lump with his family and friends, and they urged him to go quickly. 

“It had already spread to one place, and the next place it usually spreads is the lungs, so raising awareness about testicular cancer and just talking about it is a good thing,” he said.

The Movember Foundation is one of many organisations working on creating more awareness around testicular cancer.

Movember’s global director of testicular cancer, Sam Gledhill, said that their primary goal was to “stop men dying too young”.

“Too many men are ‘toughing it out’, keeping their problems to themselves and suffering in silence. It’s time to break that silence,” Mr Gledhill said.

“We find that generally, men are less proactive about their health and less willing to discuss their health openly than women,” he said. 

“Our research has shown that 70 per cent of men either do not perform regular checks or even worse, do not know what a self-examination is.”

Consultant medical oncologist Edmond Kwan said there was a perceived stigma that could be detrimental and lead to delayed diagnosis.  

“The issue is that this leads to a delay in diagnosis, because the bigger the tumour gets, the higher the chance is that cancer spreads,” Dr Kwan said.

“Testicular cancer is highly curable but despite that, the later you go to the doctor, the chances of having an overall good outcome steadily drops.”