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#MensHealthWeek Survivor Story – Gabe Barcenas

A Message From One of Our Speakers Bureau Members

My whole saga started innocently enough. I had back pain. I like to think of  myself as a macho guy, and therefore i contributed the pain to my manly workouts. Yep, that was it, I must have torn/pulled a muscle while lifting weights.  

Well, the pain never subsided, so i took the next step and went to see a Dr. The Dr. at the point agreed, it must have been a pull/tear. I was given some pain medicine (not the good euphoric kind unfortunately) and was sent on my way. Unfortunately, that was not the end of it. For three weeks I struggled through significant pain. I was taking the useless pills, I was ice packing it nearly 24/7, I was see a chiropractor 2/3 times a day, and I was still waking up each night…..crying and in the fetal position.  

After 3 weeks of this, I went back in. At this point, I noticed that of my balls was swollen, again…naturally I thought this must be a hernia, at least that’s what I told myself. 

Needless to say, it wasn’t a pulled muscle, it wasn’t torn tissue, and it wasn’t a hernia. The Doc sent me down to get an ultrasound, he had thought that I had ‘twisted’ something down there. About 3 mins into the ultrasound, and I was sure something wasn’t right. The length of time it was taking as well as the look on the technicians face gave away that something wasn’t right. He asked if he could go get the doctor, and the fear of the unknown became a crippling feeling. A few mins after the doc came in and started his own examination he stated that i should follow up with my primary care Dr in the AM… way was that gonna fly with me. I demanded to know what was wrong…….that’s where it all went wrong, those words hung out like it was going in slow motion on a bad, old, scary movie – ‘YOU HAVE CANCER’.  

What came next was a flurry of new Dr’s, test, appt’s, and surgeries. I went from diagnosis to ball removal, to 9 weeks of chemo in the blink of an eye. A horribly painful, mind screwing, scary, evil eye. It was and remains the worst stretch of my life to date.  

The worst part? The worst part is hindsight. All of this could have/should have/would have been avoided if I had any clue it could affect me. Why didn’t someone tell me about the most common cancer in males between 15-34? How wasn’t I warned? There were symptoms – if I knew that i should be looking for them this all could have been avoided.

I can only hope that my experience and my story can help someone out there avoid the pain and agony of what I went through. 

You have them, check them – if you feel something, say something…….you are not manlier than Testicular Cancer and neither was I.


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