FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – In many ways, Justin Nicholas of Frisco is a typical teen. He loves basketball, hanging with friends, the occasional video game and of course girls. Cancer, especially of the testes, was not a part of the teenager’s plan.
“I’d had back pain for a while, and they said that could be a symptom of it,” says Justin. “And then I found the mass myself.”
Playing as a forward on the Wakeland High School basketball team Justin says he had heard of the disease after cyclist Lance Armstrong’s much publicized diagnosis. Still, he admits that he was worried when he found out he had it too.
“I didn’t know much about it. So, I didn’t know if I could like potentially die, so it was a pretty scary thing.” said Justin.
According to local experts, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in young men between the ages of 15 and 34, but it is rarely discussed. And according to Dr. Stan Goldman, a pediatric oncologist at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, that needs to change.
“Men tend to ignore things,” admits Dr. Goldman. But he says testicular cancer has a very high cure rate – especially if it is caught early. “The earlier your diagnose it the less therapy you’re going to need to be cured. So, it’s important to not ignore symptoms and get to a doctor right away.”
According to Dr. Goldman, roughly 10,000 cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States. But Justin’s case was even more rare because it had already spread.
“Even though he had a very small tumor of the testes, which was taken out by an adult urologist, it had spread to his neck, chest, and all throughout his abdomen at diagnosis,” says Dr. Goldman. “And his back pain was probably due to the spread of the tumor.”
In the months following his December diagnosis, Justin has undergone multiple surgeries and weeks of high dose chemotherapy.
“From then on, it was 5 days in here and then two weeks at home for about 4 months,” says Justin. His Dad, Wayne Nicholas says the chemo was probably the most difficult part of the journey for him – but today he is poised to rejoice. Justin is going home.
“He’s a testament to answered prayer,” says Nicholas, who can’t say enough about his local community, church and school for the months of encouragement and support. “We’ve truly been some blessed parents.”
Justin’s doctors at Medical City Children’s Hospital say his prognosis is excellent. His cancer is in remission and he can look forward to college in the fall, and one day maybe marriage and kids.
“It’s going to feel amazing to know that I don’t have to come back for a while,” says Justin.
Still, his cancer journey is already influencing his career plans. Instead of sports marketing, Justin is now planning to major in Nursing.
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