Real Men Wear Gowns: Detecting cancer signs early

A young man's battle with testicular cancer

When Alex Diaz was diagnosed with stage 3A testicular cancer, he says that he knew he was going to be ok.

"I didn't really panic,” Diaz said. “I knew that this was treatable, so let's treat it. There's no sense crying about it. This happened let's move on with it."

For six months, he dealt with back pain, hoping that it would go away.

"I didn't know it at the time, but it was actually my lymph nodes swelling up,” Diaz noted.

Some of the symptoms of testicular cancer include a lump or enlargement in the testicle, a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, pain or discomfort in a testicle, and, in some cases, back pain.

"There are patients that probably took awhile to seek attention, and these patients, apart from a testicular lump, will start having symptoms such as back pain, because the next group of organs that spreads to are the lymph nodes in the abdomen that usually present with back pain,” said Dr. Deva Mahalingam, a UT Medicine oncologist.

"First I had to have the surgery to remove the testicle called the orchiectomy," Diaz said.

That's the surgery to remove the affected testicle, which was followed by chemo, then a not-so-common surgery called the RPLND.

"The point of that surgery is to remove your lymph nodes from the chest cavity,” Diaz said.

They’re removed through the front of the abdomen. On October 28, Diaz will be two years cancer free. He says positivity is key.

He brought that positivity into the hospital for his second surgery when he dressed up for Halloween as the Operation board game guy.

"I already had my stomach open, they had already plucked out the good stuff. I hope they didn't touch the sides that would be a little shocking,” Diaz joked. “Just one way to make light of the situation."

Even though he made light of it while getting the right treatment, doctors say you should take any health issue seriously.

"Coming to the doctor regularly helps us to educate men in terms of signs and warning signs to look for so we can catch things early enough before they turn into something more serious,” said Dr. Patrick Pierre with University Health System.

For more men’s health information, you can always call 210-258-3045 or visit

You can find the rest of our Real Men Wear Gowns stories at

(© 2016 KENS)


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