Anaheim dad ignored the sneaky signs of testicular cancer: 'I can't have my life end so early'

According to data, 8,000 to 10,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year.

Denise Dador Image
Monday, February 6, 2023
Anaheim dad ignored the sneaky signs of testicular cancer
Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers for young men, so doctors are urging them to pay attention to any signs and symptoms.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- February is National Cancer Prevention Month and we're focusing on testicular cancer.

According to data, 8,000 to 10,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year.

It's one of the most common cancers for young men, but it also has one of the highest cure rates. It's important to know the warning signs. One local man in his 20s delayed going to see his doctor and the outcome was scary.

Common symptoms of testicular cancer often include a lump, swelling or pain, but 29-year-old Christian Diaz of Anaheim can't remember experiencing any signs.

"I didn't really have any," he said.

While he had some back pain, he ignored it.

Diaz was about to become a first-time dad and had applied for a second job that required a physical exam.

"They saw some unusual areas on my chest X-ray on the borders," he said.

He went to get tests.

A few days after his daughter Ellie was born, doctors admitted him to the hospital for immediate treatment of stage 3 testicular cancer.

"I can't have my life end so short because we just had a baby. Like my wife and I, it's something I wanted to enjoy. I felt like I was almost being robbed of that," Diaz said.

Urologist Dr. Mehrdad Alemozaffar with Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center said Diaz's testicular cancer spread through the lymph nodes.

"It actually spread through his abdomen through his chest and out to the neck," the doctor said.

Alemozaffar was one of many doctors who had to remove tumors from Diaz' neck, chest, abdomen and spine. He also lost a kidney.

"Not completely unheard of for patients present at that advanced stage, but it can happen," said Alemozaffar.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer of men between the ages 15 and 35. The cause is unknown, but doctors say if it is caught early, it can be completely cured.

"It's important for men to be aware that this can happen, and it particularly happens in young men who, quite frankly, don't typically seek out medical attention. We would like to make sure patients are doing self-exams, you know? Being seen regularly by the physicians," Alemozaffar said.

After a year and a half of grueling surgeries and chemotherapy, doctors are very optimistic about Diaz' prognosis. He missed the first 18 months of his daughter's life and he doesn't want other men to have to go through what he did.

"Don't take it for granted it's always better getting looked at," he said. "It was initially my wife that was pressing me to go to the doctor. So I tell everybody that she basically saved my life."