Testicular Cancer Survivor Has New Outlook on Life

Written By:Stacy Simon
photo of Casey Leach with his nurses and friends

Before Casey Leach was diagnosed in October 2012, the possibility of getting testicular cancer had never entered his mind. At 23 years old, he was working hard at his internship in sports management, studying, earning good grades, looking forward to graduating from the University of Kansas, and lifting weights to stay in shape.

When he began having pain in his back and abdomen, Leach blamed it on the weightlifting. But when the pain persisted and became worse, he realized something was very wrong and went to the hospital. A CT scan revealed a large tumor wrapped around his kidney and aorta. It took several more tests and surgeries over the next couple of weeks to diagnose it as metastatic testicular cancer.

Because he was young and had always been healthy, Leach found the news shocking. “When they told me, it was like a huge burden was put on me. I didn’t know what to do or think,” he said.

A cancer that occurs in young men

"I have a second chance at life. If I really want to do something I am going to go and do it and not put it off."

Casey Leach

Testicular cancer is highly treatable and usually curable. It affects about 8,000 men per year in the United States. About half the cases occur in men between the ages of 20 and 34. Treatment usually includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these, and depends on factors including the type and stage (extent) of the cancer.

In Leach’s case, the size and location of his tumor meant he needed chemotherapy immediately upon diagnosis. He had 4 rounds of chemo to shrink the tumor before having it surgically removed in February 2013. A checkup several weeks later showed no signs of any cancer remaining. He had some complications after surgery and is still recovering, but is looking forward to getting healthy and picking up his life where he left off.

His plans include returning to his internship, pursuing fulltime job opportunities in sports management, and maybe something grander. Since his cancer experience, Leach said he has a new outlook on life—so much so that he’s again dreaming of a career in major league baseball, something he had put aside as too unrealistic. “I have a second chance at life,” he said. “If I really want to do something I am going to go and do it and not put it off.”

A support network is key

Through it all, Leach was supported by his mother and father, 3 brothers, and many friends. He says it’s unbelievable how many people reached out to him through Facebook, cards, texts, and phone calls. That kind of support is what he says got him through his weakest moments.

Leach said, “I realized how quickly life can be taken away. I learned to appreciate what I have and just enjoy life and live in the moment. I appreciate just being able to see my friends and hang out and appreciate all the other people around me that I have. I realized not to take things for granted.”

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