Take ‘Movember’ seriously

2016-11-23 06:00
PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile At FMI Men's Movember Breakfast are (from left) cancer survivor Wesley Horrell, Oscar Anderson (FMI business development) and Garron Gsell (Movember country manager).

PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile At FMI Men's Movember Breakfast are (from left) cancer survivor Wesley Horrell, Oscar Anderson (FMI business development) and Garron Gsell (Movember country manager).

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WESLEY Horrell recently shared his journey to remission after being diagnosed with cancer twice with a room full of men at a recent Movember breakfast, hosted by life insurance company, FMI.

Horrell, a teacher, was only 27 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had been married for only two years and had just started building a new life with his wife.

“We had just started trying to have a baby and then I was diagnosed. The diagnosis literally stops your life dead in its tracks. At 27 you don’t think about the possibility of having a life-changing disease.

“I went to the doctor and was initially misdiagnosed when I found a growth on my testicle. After six weeks of taking antibiotics, nothing changed so I went back and had a CT scan, which confirmed that I had stage two testicular cancer.

“Fortunately, it was at an early stage so from the diagnosis to the operation it was literally within days, which didn’t leave me with much time to process being diagnosed, I just had to deal with the consequences as they came.”

Horrell said during the same week of being diagnosed he found out that his wife was expecting their first child. “Finding out I was going to be a dad really motivated me to push through and fight.”

After the whirlwind of his testicular diagnosis and the operation, Horrell thought his brief encounter with cancer was over.

“Three months later I went for another CT scan and they found cancer in my lymph nodes. I was then diagnosed with stage two lymphoma,” he said.

Horrell underwent another operation to remove the cancer, however, suffered major complications in theatre. His heart stopped and he had to be resuscitated and given three litres of blood.

“The operation was on my lymph nodes that are behind your spine and organs. Literally the doctors cut through my body. I spent six nights in hospital in unbelievable pain and had to wear a brace on my body to keep everything in place for three weeks,” he said.

During chemotherapy and recovery he was unable to work.

“Chemo shatters your immune system. I went through very aggressive treatment because testicular cancer is fast spreading. Some days chemo would last seven hours.

“Getting through a diagnosis takes a strong mental attitude. It’s not a case of giving up when you have something to live for. My wife is the strongest person I know, she looked after me all through her pregnancy. It’s very important to have family support,” he said.

Horrell has been in remission since January 2015 and has a healthy two-year-old son.

Horrell’s father Ian was also at the event and shared his journey with his son.

‘Your whole world just stops, but you get through it because you find your faith and belief in your Creator and you turn to the one person who this diagnosis isn’t a surprise to, God. This is how we got through this journey with Wes.

“It’s amazing to see how, as a family, we all pulled together. That was the key. My heart goes out to the people who don’t have that. Cancer became a reality for us. We don’t have a history of cancer in the family, but we saw God’s grace. I’m privileged to sit next to Wes today. I salute all those who have fought it,’ said Ian.

Garren Gsell, country manager of Movember, shared the story of the “mo” movement, which started as a social experiment among four friends in Australia. The movement has grown to 21 countries and has raised R5.5 billion.

“It’s a fun campaign with a serious message. People are donating their face to the cause. The ‘stash’ has become a catalyst to the conversation. As men we don’t usually talk about our health issues and sometimes we don’t take them seriously, but we need to invest in men’s health and men’s health awareness. This is what the ‘stash’ does. It has activated a community through conversation,” said Gsell.

Movember annually donates money to CANSA, but research has shown there is huge need for men’s mental health as well, so the organisation started donating to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

“Movember is all about promoting a happier, healthier, longer life. All supporters, including ‘mo-sisters’ are important to promoting our message,” he said.

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