Testicular cancer – Greg’s story

30 March 2016

 Greg main

Greg Johnson is a fit and healthy 31-year-old personal trainer and for years he’s practised what he preaches by eating well and keeping himself fit with a highly disciplined and active lifestyle.

Being diagnosed with cancer

Greg Johnson is a fit and healthy 31-year-old personal trainer and for years he’s practised what he preaches by eating well and keeping himself fit with a highly disciplined and active lifestyle.

But at the end of 2014 he was surprised to find a lump on one of his testicles and, as soon as he could, went to see the doctor. He was seen at his district hospital in double quick time, hoping the lump was nothing serious. Unfortunately, on New Year’s Day, 2015, Greg was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

‘When I was told I burst out crying.  Because when you hear the word ‘cancer’, you automatically think...death,’ he said.  But the medical team sat him down and explained that his lump was most likely to be a non-aggressive form, so the likelihood of him dying was slim.

Greg’s treatment

After being told the affected testicle would have to be removed, Greg initially began to explore other options.  ‘I started looking down different routes about how I could get rid of this naturally, but realised you are just taking massive risks.’

After the operation Greg was given the encouraging news that his cancer was not aggressive and he was given one course of chemotherapy.  Initially he was not allowed to train as rigorously as normal but was still determined to get back to peak fitness as quickly as possible.

Staying positive during recovery

The experience made him more determined to live life to the full and be more focused on making the very best of every single day. Since his illness he has built a second personal training business.

Greg says having a positive attitude helped enormously, but how did the experience of being diagnosed and treated for cancer change his personality?  

‘It’s only made it stronger.  I want to see things through.  I feel that there’s a lot to do when you’re alive and I think you have to go through a little bit of pain to realise that there’s a lot to enjoy with your life. Rather than just working, there’s a lot more to life than just making money.’

Greg’s advice to others

So given that Greg has beaten cancer, is back up to full fitness and established a new business, what advice would he give other men who discover they have testicular cancer?

‘Firstly feel re-assured because it is very treatable.  If you get told you’ve got testicular cancer, it is one of the most treatable cancers you can get.  96% of people who get it survive.’

Greg says that once people are through the operation and chemo, the best thing is to focus on health – firstly concentrating on eating well.  ‘I am a big believer in the fact that nutrition affects your mind.  Getting my mindset right and getting my eating right was really key for me and then just building up my strength.’

‘I teach all my clients that nutrition is key to feeling good and creating the body that you want.  You can’t out-train a bad diet.  You can go to the gym as much as you want but if you’re not eating well, your lifestyle not as it should be and not in alignment with your training, then the results are not going to happen.’

Coping with depression

One of the most common experiences of men who have undergone an operation to remove one or both testicles is depression. A lack of confidence and a loss of esteem are common for people who have suffered this very ‘personal’ cancer.  Greg was no different so how did he combat the low moments?

‘It wasn’t until after the operation that I started to feel really low.  Waking up in the morning and not wanting to get out of bed; not wanting to go to work.  I didn’t really feel I had any direction especially with the chemo.’

‘I was seriously low for about 10 days.  I was always one of those people who didn’t understand depression.’

So he decided to focus on becoming more decisive and began to go out and socialise with friends and little by little his focus and meaning came back.

Life following testicular cancer

Greg is now spending time helping others get through the trauma of dealing with difficult times like those he experienced.

‘It’s only since I have had testicular cancer that I have heard of other people having it. Having someone around who understands, who’s been through testicular cancer, or a group where people can talk about their experiences, is vital to help someone who is newly diagnosed with cancer or depressed as a result.’