April 11, 2016 | by City of Hope
As a 27-year-old personal trainer, Matt Hebert was in better shape than most people his age. So, when a general physician told him that a lump in his scrotum was probably a cyst, the Anaheim Hills, California, resident was concerned but not alarmed.
That was in 2007.
A year later, Matt saw an urologist who wanted to remove and biopsy the by-then enlarged lump, but he procrastinated. When the lump was finally removed in 2009, Matt learned that it was testicular cancer. A radiologist recommended removing both of his testicles and having chemotherapy as well as radiation, which might increase the risk of additional cancer.
Uncomfortable with the advice and feeling limited by his options, Matt turned to family friends who pointed him toward City of Hope, where he was soon connected with pediatric oncologist, Judith Sato, M.D.
Although an adult, Matt saw a pediatric oncologist because his growth was found to be an undifferentiated para-testicular sarcoma, an aggressive and rare form of testicular cancer usually found in children. Sato told him that a City of Hope surgeon would remove only the testicle near the lump, and preserve the other one by temporarily relocating it out of the target area for the radiation and chemotherapy that would follow.
“She gave me a treatment option I could live with,” Matt says. “Some of the treatment, which lasted for a year, was pretty grueling, but I always felt that I was being taken care of and they knew what they were doing. I remember that phone call from the doctor saying that the lymph nodes they removed were clear and the cancer hadn’t spread, and experiencing a huge sigh of relief.”
Matt finished treatment in 2010, and now goes back for check-ups once a year. He has been cancer-free and is leading a full and active life. As the sales director for his family’s food brokerage company, he still finds time for exercise, and play roller hockey, too.
Best of all, Matt will still be able to have children one day.
“I think going to City of Hope saved my life,” Matt says. “It’s an organization that has the patient’s health and well-being foremost in mind.”
While Matt found a treatment option that worked for him at City of Hope, the greater takeaway of his story is the importance of vigilance and awareness when it comes to watching for symptoms of testicular cancer – a disease that, although rare in comparison to other cancers, develops most often in young men.
Here are a few of the most common symptoms, from the National Cancer Institute:
If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.