How a Self-Exam Saved My Life: A Testicular Cancer Story

In this deeply personal video, interventional paramedic Brandon Hunt shares his journey as a testicular cancer survivor. Diagnosed with cancer at a young age, Brandon provides a firsthand account of the discovery, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process. His story emphasizes the importance of self-exams and being vigilant about your health, regardless of age and perceived fitness levels.

Through his experience, Brandon offers valuable advice to young men about early detection, the potential symptoms of testicular cancer, and the significance of seeking medical attention immediately. His story is a testament to the power of awareness and the impact of timely action.

Join us as we listen to Brandon’s inspiring journey and learn how we can protect ourselves and others by being proactive about our health. Share this video to spread awareness about testicular cancer and the importance of early detection.

👉 👉 👉 Download ARA’s Testicular Self-Exam card (PDF) here:

My name is Brandon Hunt. I’m an interventional paramedic here at ARA. I’ve been a cancer survivor since 2008. I was first diagnosed when I was in my mid 20’s. 25 to 28, which is not uncommon for testicular cancer.

Discovery and Diagnosis

Back in 2005, I was a paramedic on the ambulance and very healthy. I was in very good shape. I was working out every day. Eat like I was supposed to, thinking I was very healthy. I got out of the shower one night, and I was drying off, and I noticed in the mirror that something was abnormal.

One of the testicles was larger than the other one. It was very firm. Had some lumps and no feeling in it. I told my wife and I was like, I think something’s wrong. The next day, I went to work, and I’ve been working with a paramedic for about eight years, so we was basically brothers.
And I mentioned my concerns about it to him and he was like, yeah, you need to go to the doctor. So I called my commander that day and went to the urologist. And as soon as they did an examination, she’s the one who said, oh, yes. Yes, sir. This is definitely cancer.

Emotional Impact and Diagnostic Process

It was very shocking. I mean, the word cancer is very scary. I thought I was doing everything right. Just because you’re healthy and young doesn’t mean that this stuff can’t come in and take over your body, also.

We did an exam at the urologist. She did confirm that it was cancer. We went to surgery the next day. They removed the mass. I went home, recovered at home.

The surgery wasn’t bad at all. They sent it off to the lab and it come back two weeks later with a mixed germ cell. It was two types of testicular cancer and a pediatric muscle cancer. So that’s when things started getting pretty complicated,
because at my age, at that time, testicular cancer was not uncommon. What made it a special case is that it had a mixed germ cell, a pediatric muscle cancer in it.

After the oncologist seen me, read over the bloodwork and the pathology report from the mass, he stated also that I was way older than anybody that’s had pediatric muscle cancer. He felt like I did need second opinion from a specialty and so he recommended MD Anderson.

Treatment Recommendation and Surgery

So the treatment at that point, they needed to go in because testicular cancer, the next place it spreads is to your lymph nodes in your abdomen. They was wanting to make sure to get those out so it could help with the spreading of the cancer. I had an 8.5 hour abdominal surgery. I believe it was right at 18 lymph nodes removed. It was a very big surgery. They removed those lymph nodes. They sent those lymph nodes off for studies also. It came back as teratoma, but it was benign. So it was starting to spread, but they did get it.

Recovery Process

I recovered in ICU for a week. I had a very long incision on my abdomen. I spent another week in the hospital, just recovering.

So the normal treatment with testicular cancer is they normally do surgery to remove the mass. They normally send it off, get pathology on it. Then they do chemo and radiation. I’m not sure if it’s common to always have the lymph nodes removed. I’ve talked to some other testicular cancer patients that have come to ARA. I shared my story. They shared their story with me. Some of them have had their lymph nodes removed out of their abdomen, and some haven’t. So, I’m not sure what was the deciding factor on that?

I didn’t have to have chemo or radiation. The reason being is after my surgery, I recovered. There was no more tumor markers that showed cancer. There was no more cancer that they could see through any kind of diagnostic studies. So, the option was I can do chemo and radiation as a precautionary, just in case there is a cell in there and we don’t see it, or we can wait and see if it comes back. In the benefit of waiting, and to see if it comes back, is once you have chemo or radiation, it causes a lot of scar tissue. And also it’s not as strong as if you have to go back and do it again. They were leaning towards no chemo and no radiation because they couldn’t see any cancer in my body. And so then if it should come back, we can at least attack it full force with chemo and radiation for the first time, with the full strength and not the scar tissue that I would have if we did it beforehand.

Long-Term Recovery and Checkups

For the first couple of years, I went back and did CTs with barium, oral barium, I.V. barium and rectal barium, every three months, and that was just to check and make sure they didn’t see anything. I did that for a couple of years, and then after that it went down to once a year, for a total of about ten years. After that, they felt comfortable enough that the cancer hadn’t come back and it hadn’t been spreading. So, at that point, after ten years, I no longer had to do the chest x-rays or the CT because they felt comfortable that it wasn’t in my body anymore. And if I’ve seen any symptoms or anything that concerned me, or if I felt anything that concerned me, by all means, all I had to do is get back a hold of my oncologist and they would definitely order those tests again.

Advice to Young Men

So, my advice to the young men out there ages of 20 to 40 is just pay attention. You can even do a self-exam because you can feel it. It’s very obvious. And if you do feel it, you got to go to the doctor immediately. Don’t think it’s something minor. Go to the doctor immediately so they can get your tests going.

So, the best way to doing a self-exam, is when you get out of the shower, after you dry off, get in front of the mirror. Look, because you’ll be able to see it and feel it. Actually feel the testicles. You will feel a hardness. It will be numb. You won’t have no feeling in it whatsoever. You’ll feel little lumps on it. It feels a little like a rough rock, is the best way to explain it. But that’s the best way to do it is you actually got to feel. You will see it, but when you feel it, you’ll know something is not right. I caught mine in stage one, so as soon as AS seen it, I went to the doctor. Stage one. It hadn’t had time to pass throughout my body.

So it’s very important. Don’t ignore it. We all know Lance Armstrong. i had the same cancer he did. The only difference, the reason his went to his brain and his lungs is he ignored it. He seen the mass. He didn’t report it to his doctor, and it turned into a major cancer that spread throughout his body. Be very aware.


Don’t let your age, being young. Don’t let your health, thinking your healthy. I eat good. I exercise every day. I don’t need to be worrying about this cancer stuff. It happened to me. I was very young and I was in very good shape.
Very good shape. Don’t let your age and your health convince you otherwise.

Again, it’s very important. Do self-exams. If you do feel something, absolutely go to your doctor. It’s just a good thing to understand that taking care of yourself is very important, but also pay close attention to your body.

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