Meet Aaron Jonathan Wood, a 32-year-old personal shopper at Hamleys Regent Street, the oldest toy shop in the world, from London, England — and a testicular cancer survivor.
Aaron was diagnosed with testicular cancer at just 17 years old and relapsed at 18 years old.
He was a very athletic teenager and thought he had a sports injury that wasn’t healing. It wasn’t until he wore shorts around the house that his Mom recommended he get himself checked, as it appeared abnormal. That’s when his cancer journey began.
His treatment started at 17 years old. He had a testicle removed and underwent high dose chemotherapy. At this stage, he was given a choice to go to a specialist cancer hospital or be treated at a children’s hospital — he chose the adult cancer hospital because he says, “I didn’t want to bed block for a young child.”
There, he did 9 weeks of chemotherapy with lots of MRIs, CT scans and pet scans to check up on the progress of his cancer to make sure it wasn’t spreading.
He was given the all clear and every week had to have a blood test to check his markers.
About a year later, an abnormality occurred and after a series of scans, he was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. A germ cell cancer linked to his testicular cancer.
He says, “I was told at the time I had a 40% chance of survival and my cancer had spread even into my shoulder where my professor couldn’t believe how bad the scan looked for me. The only way forward for me was to have a lifesaving stem cell transplant followed by high dose chemotherapy.”
He had the treatment done on Christmas Eve in 2005 and was put in remission after his transplant was successful.
Aaron’s biggest takeaway from his cancer battle is to, “Never take life for granted. Make the most of what you have and be thankful. Cancer had a positive impact on my life as well as negative and it made me realize what I wanted to achieve. It gave me a sense of focus and perspective.”
His advice to other men is, “Never be shy to talk about an issue that’s bothering you. As men we try to downplay issues that arise as we want to be strong or ‘man up’ but sometimes it’s best to talk and find out if other people out there have the same issues as you. Don’t go at it alone.”
Many thanks to Aaron for sharing his impactful story and great advice. As Aaron says, it’s so important to talk about what you’re experiencing, and err on the side of caution. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men between 15–44 years old — so educating men as young as teenagers is critical.
Follow Aaron on Twitter at @TheSmiths1986.
For resources on testicular cancer, please visit: cacti.org/resources.