Groom’s shock discovery before wedding
THREE weeks before his wedding in 2011, Leighton Spence noticed something unusual.
"I was lying in bed with my then fiancee and found a lump," explains the 38-year-old from Melbourne.
"I did what I feel like most people would do, try and convince myself that it was nothing as I had so much going on," recalls Mr Spence, a Melbourne-based TV editor and producer.
"However, the following day I decided to go see my doctor as I'm not a person who can bury my head in the sand."
What followed was a whirlwind of doctor's offices, appointments and ultrasounds, culminating with Spence being diagnosed with testicular cancer and landing on an operating table having one of his testicles removed a week after he found the lump.
"I was very fortunate, I got it treated so quickly that I only needed surgery," he explains.
"No radiation and no chemo. Which was extremely lucky as it turned out to be a germ based tumour and if it had of spread I would have been facing a very tough chemo treatment."
He admits that the timing couldn't have been worse.
"Like everyone who has been touched by cancer I was not expecting it and it was far from an ideal time to get sick. Actually, I don't think I could think of a worse time, three weeks before your wedding," he says.
He doesn't really consider himself a testicular cancer survivor, "more of a testicular cancer fighter", as it never stood a chance.
"I acted extremely early and before it had time to do any damage and that may have saved my life," he told news.com.au
Since his brush with cancer, Spence has become involved with the men's health initiative Movember.
"My life has been touched by almost everything that the Movember Foundation is seeking to prevent, hence my involvement and passion for such an amazing cause," he says.
"I personally have suffered from depression, my father has survived prostate cancer and most of all, I myself am a survivor of testicular cancer."
He stresses that cancer doesn't have to alter the course of your life.
"I may have had surgery and lost one of my 'boys', but I still got married, danced with my beautiful bride and went to LA right after my wedding and had one of the best working experiences of my life," he says.
"I have been cancer-free for six-and-a-half years now and I am living proof that cancer doesn't have to alter the course of your life … if you act early.
"Also, only having one ball doesn't make you less of a man. I am now the strongest and fittest I have ever been and fathered two beautiful kids."
When asked about his personal message for men, he says "my message for men everywhere is that a personal flaw is not a sign of weakness. Whether that be mental health issue or only having one ball.
"We all have imperfections, but it's how we address and deal with them that makes us strong men."
Our dads, brothers, partners, mates and sons are facing a health crisis that isn't being talked about. Movember are taking action but need your help to stop men dying too young. Sign up now to grow a Mo and raise funds at Movember.com