Finding the Color in Life: How Cancer Widened My Gaze

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This three-part article was written exclusively for by Torsten Koehler, author of the book Love Your Nuts. In this article, Torsten discusses how testicular cancer changed his life, how he struggled to find purpose after treatment, and his new-found love for life.

I was a biology teacher in Windhoek, Namibia. One day, while I prepared for my lesson on sex education, I came across a chapter on diseases and read that testicular cancer was the most common cancer among young men. I reacted as any guy would, and a strange worry began to loom over me. When I checked myself, I found a little lump, not much bigger than the tip of my little finger, on the surface of my right testis.

In Disbelief

I made up all kinds of excuses for why it couldn't be cancer. Now I think about why anyone would do that to themselves. I believe that it was because I just wanted to feel normal, and in my mind normal guys just didn't go to the doctor. I was the typical male who just didn’t talk or worry about these things.

After a week the thought that that little lump was cancer would not leave me, so I decided to see the doctor. On Monday I was at the doctor's and on Friday I was signing a form that read, “Removal of right testicle.” What a nightmare!

Dealing with the Aftermath

After the removal of my right testicle I had to wait for five days for new results. While I waited I made a bucket list where I listed all the places I wanted to go to before I died. Those five days were an emotional roller-coaster for me.

The next big shock I received came after I was told I needed chemotherapy. I learned that chemotherapy can make you infertile. What could I do now? I resorted to having my sperm cells frozen in case I became infertile after the chemo.

I drove all the way to Cape Town, South Africa, to put my “kids” on ice. It was not a nice experience going to the clinic to donate sperm cells. When I went in I felt embarrassed, like a little boy trying to hide a secret.

In Part II of this article, Torsten discusses the depression and negativity that plagued him after treatment and what brought him back to life.


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