Friends, family, readers, social media followers, and other distinguished guests, we are gathered here on this 28th day of October to commemorate and remember our dearly departed Lefty the Testicle. He was taken from this Earth three years ago today, and it’s high time we reflect upon his life.
Lefty started from humble beginnings. Back in 1991, he was born as one set of nearly identical twins. While he was slightly smaller than his brother Righty, this disparity in size was reported to be normal and the two of them were constant companions in life.
Throughout his formative years, he was well-protected from blows and strikes, thanks to the good efforts of his father, Justin. As Justin tried out various sports, he was always sheltered from any direct impacts through the use of an athletic supporter. While direct impacts to him did not cause his impending cancer, it was still of vital importance to protect him.
It was in his teenage years that a practice began that would eventually save the life of his family.
On the advice from his pediatrician, Lefty began a practice of regular, monthly self-exams. While in the shower, Lefty would place his index and middle fingers under himself with his thumb on top of his head. Firmly but gently, he examined every inch of himself for changes in size, shape, or swelling. He also encouraged Righty to do the same. The brothers would repeat this process monthly.
This practice would prove vital. While testicular cancer incidence rates were relatively low at his birth, by the time he was in his mid-twenties, they had doubled. Why this has occurred is still a mystery, but it further solidified the need for these regular self exams.
It was when Lefty entered his twenty-fifth year of life that the problems began. Late that year, in October, he discovered a lump on himself. While he knew that 50% of testicular cancer cases occur in men from ages 15-44, he couldn’t believe it was happening to him. After all, the average age for diagnosis is 33, and Lefty had never been ahead of the curve.
While there was no family history in his predecessors, he also knew that most testicles who develop this disease have no history.
With a heavy heart, he spoke with his brother about his testicular cancer suspicions.
Righty recalls the conversation:
Lefty: “I found… lump.”
Righty: “Does it hurt?”
Lefty: “Nope, but I did some research. It doesn’t have to be painful for it to be a problem.”
Righty: “I see. Do you want to talk to Dad?”
Lefty: “If you’ll come with me.”
Righty: “You know we are inseparable.”
No one knew the irony of Righty’s last statement.
After that conversation, they spoke to their father, Justin. Though he wanted to be like the 65% of men who tend to wait as long as possible to see their doctor if they have any health symptoms or an injury, Lefty urged him to call a doctor.
That call would change the course of Lefty’s life.
It was discovered that Lefty was cancerous and needed to be removed immediately. Within a matter of days, Lefty was facing the end of his life. Though he would be missed from this Earth, he knew it was a noble sacrifice. While testicular cancer is aggressive, it is extremely curable once the cancerous testicle goes to the ‘giant scrotum in the sky.’
Three years ago, the brothers embraced for one last time. Righty asked him if he had any last words, to which Lefty quoted Alfred Hitchcock:
“One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.”
And with that, Lefty was removed from his home.
While we will never know what exactly happened after Lefty’s death, we do know his legacy.
He is survived by his brother, Righty, and his father, Justin. Righty has continued to carry on Lefty’s monthly self-exam as a tribute to his fallen brother. While rare, testicular cancer does afflict the second testicle in roughly 2% of all survivors.
After the surgery, Justin had to endure chemotherapy to get rid of the cancer that had escaped from Lefty and traveled through his body. Now in remission, Justin works to ensure that all men are aware of this disease and how important early detection is for favorable outcomes. He will forever mourn the loss of Lefty, but he will make sure his sacrifice was not in vain.
Please join me in a moment of silence as we celebrate the life and times of Lefty. Place your hands upon your sack and remember his mission.
This post originally appeared on A Ballsy Sense of Tumor. It is republished with permission.