Young Canberran Matt Monu has battled cancer, and won. Photo: Jay Cronan
An errant paintball saved Matt Monu's life - twice. The pellet hit his groin causing excruciating pain and forced him to see a doctor who ultimately diagnosed testicular cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and lungs.
There were no other symptoms and doctors told the 21-year-old they had caught the deadly disease at the last possible moment for a good outcome.
Then while treating Mr Monu, doctors found another unrelated tumour in his abdomen.
More than 12 months later- after two serious operations and four cycles of chemotherapy, he was given the cancer all-clear.
But he freely admits to being a terrible patient in the beginning and credits Canberra Hospital's counselling service for helping him through the toughest period of his life.
"First couple of weeks I was in denial, I though the doctors are just doing this so they can have money and all this kind of rubbish excuses instead of saying, 'It's cancer- I'm going to do chemo and get it done', I was denying it for two, three weeks. Trying to avoid any possible surgeries and possible chemo and just praying it would go away," he said.
Initially Mr Monu refused to tell his friends about the diagnosis and would sit at home alone thinking "dark thoughts."
"I would see [the psychologists] a lot. Whenever I would get really angry or really sad, or just didn't know what to do they would help me," he said.
"I didn't tell my friends for the first two, three months of the diagnosis and then eventually it all just came out when I became more confident, because especially losing hair ...someone my age losing all their hair is quite damaging to their self-esteem, so I didn't want to do anything, I didn't want to talk to anybody- I just wanted to stay at home."
Stem cell carcinoma is one of the rarest cancers and Mr Monu required a heavy dose of chemotherapy.
"I've had four cycles of chemo; five hours for five days a week, then two weeks break, then another five hours five days a week," he said.
Mr Mon lost all his body hair and got very thin.
"I'm 6 foot 5 so an average weight for me is about 95 to 100 kilos and at the end of chemo I weight about 85 kilos," he said.
But now, he's feeling much better and without going so far as to be grateful for the cancer Mr Monu said the illness had made him a nicer, less materialistic person.
"I'm feeling about 90 per cent. I'm not feeling tired or sick but when I exercise I get pain. The second surgery was massive - from my sternum to the public bone they cut me."