ACT News

Cancer survivor urges Canberran men to discuss their health

James Franklin, who survived a cancer scare at the age of 20, when still living with his parents.
James Franklin, who survived a cancer scare at the age of 20, when still living with his parents. Photo: Supplied

A young man who survived testicular cancer has urged Canberran men to be more aware of their bodies and more willing to discuss their physical and mental health issues with families and friends.

James Franklin was just 20 years old and living with his parents in Farrah when doctors diagnosed him with testicular cancer after the disease was discovered during a routine operation for a heart condition.

"In some ways I was lucky because I hadn't thought to check myself and wasn't aware of the symptoms of testicular cancer at the time," he said.

"If I had known, I may have either been able to find it earlier myself or ask a doctor to check for it."

Like many men, Mr Franklin had routinely grown a moustache during November to support awareness of men's health issues but his diagnosis gave him an additional motivation to get involved.

"I was in the middle of chemotherapy when Movember started and given the cause meant a fair bit more to me, I started sharing my story online," he said. 

"My friends started sharing it and soon enough I was able to raise a lot of money and awareness for the cause."

Mr Franklin, who was given the all-clear by doctors earlier this year, raised $24,000 for the Movember Foundation last year and hopes his story will encourage Canberran men to pay closer attention to their health.

"Young men need to be aware of the risks of testicular cancer as it is a common thing and affects a lot of people, not just older people," he said.

'I'd like to see all young men start either checking themselves or getting doctors to check during their routine check-ups."

Mr Franklin said men should feel comfortable discussing their mental and physical health issues with their family and friends as there was nothing to be ashamed of and support was vital in any recovery.

Movember Foundation's Asia Pacific director, Jeremy Macvean, said that though discussion of men's health issues has improved in recent years, many man were still unaware of key symptoms of mental and physical illness.

According to research commissioned by the foundation, almost three-quarters of 1527 Australian men interviewed were not familiar with the symptoms of prostate and testicular cancer and 50 were percent unaware of the symptoms of depression.

The research conducted by Jigsaw Research found that 36 per cent of men would rather talk to their mothers (28 per cent) than their male friends about mental health issues.

Mr Macvean said Movember was one way men could start conversations about their health and raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

"We want every man across the country to take their health more seriously - mental as well as physical," he said.