Geoff Waterman, of Canandaigua, wants men to be aware of measures they can take for early detection of testicular cancer.
Before appearing on the CA Idol stage, 7th-grader Marissa Waterman promised that her performance would be special.
The reason was simple: It was dedicated to her dad.
Her acoustic rendition of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” earned her second place among middle school soloists at the March 22 competition, and cheers from the audience.
The song’s lyrics include the line, “I will be brave.” It’s a quote that suits her father well.
Marissa’s father is Geoff Waterman, 45, of Canandaigua, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in July 2012. He had a rare case of bi-lateral testicular cancer, meaning cancer was present in both testes, he said. Surgeries in late July and August removed the cancer, but Waterman is still recovering and trying to regain some normalcy in his life.
During that process, he has aimed to make others aware of this particular type of cancer.
“You don’t hear about this,” he said. “You hear about other cancers, but I don’t really think any guy has ever thought about it.”
While he has received support from friends, family and his church, he said, his daughter has been especially supportive.
“She’s been my biggest advocate to let people know about (testicular cancer),” he said of Marissa.
For Waterman, it started with an uncomfortable and unfamiliar feeling. He described it as pressure between his legs, like his pants were constantly riding up. This went on for more than a month, he said.
Though an ache — either dull or painful — is a possible indicator of testicular cancer, it’s not the only thing for men to look out for, said Dr. Paul Shapiro, a urologist at Finger Lakes Urology.
“The two most common things are a painless lump or a painful lump,” Shapiro said. He added that just as women do self-examinations for breast cancer, men should do the same testing for testicular cancer. A monthly examination is ideal, and a lot of men find it easier to do the self-checkup while in the shower, Shapiro said. If anything is abnormal, it should be checked out by a professional, he said.
Shapiro added that while the appearance of a lump is not necessarily cancer, it’s best to err toward caution and get a professional opinion.
Waterman had his abnormality checked out, and the cancer was discovered at an early stage. He returned to work 10 days after the second surgery. Currently, he’s on a five-year plan. This means that for that time span, he’ll remain in contact with doctors and undergo tests to make sure the cancer does not return.
Page 2 of 2 - Aside from support from family and members of the Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes in Farmington, Waterman has employed a sense of humor to cope with his situation.
“My voice didn’t go up (after the surgeries),” he quipped.
Like a lot cancers, the testicular disease has a high cure rate if detected early, Shapiro said. Figure skater Scott Hamilton, comedian Tom Green, and cyclist Lance Armstrong are notable cases of men who have survived various stages of the cancer.
According to Shapiro, the initial treatment is to remove the affected testicle (or testicles). Follow-up procedures could include chemotherapy or just watchful observation, depending on whether or not the cancer spread, he added.
There’s not necessarily a pattern or certain group of males who are more susceptible to getting this form of cancer. Anecdotally, Shapiro said most of the men he treats are in their 20s, 30s or early 40s. Teens also are diagnosed with this type of cancer, he said. Shapiro added that it’s more rare to see testicular cancer in males in their 50s or older.
Waterman added that there is no history of cancer in his family. In fact, he’s the first to have it, he said. It’s another reason that he urged men to look out for the symptoms, and to seek medical help if anything seems wrong.
“It’s the most personal thing on a guy,” Waterman said. “It can be a little embarrassing ... But I just want people to know about this type of cancer.”