As a 23 year old in the middle of my final exams of a combined undergraduate degree in Commerce and Science, I was shocked to be diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Having spent the previous 5 years at Sydney University - a number of which I lived on campus at St Andrews College; spending countless weekends supporting mates through Colts and Grade rugby – being diagnosed with cancer was never on my radar. Suddenly I was forced to think about bigger and scarier things than what I was doing on the weekend.
As a young adult any conversation about that region is never an easy one, but thankfully instead of trying to turn a blind eye, I surprisingly found what I thought was going to be a highly embarrassing conversation was actually very matter of fact and almost routine, albeit quite a solitary one.
I've since been alarmed to find out that these cancers are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in males aged 15 to 35 year old and yet these are so rarely spoken about or have a very limited public profile.
For me, early detection and the amazing medical treatment and advice by ANZUP member, Dr Peter Grimison, meant I can now carry on with life as though not much happened. I'm now three years into remission and I am determined to give back in some way. Others are less fortunate, so my efforts are focussed on both awareness and raising funds for clinical trial research to help other unsuspecting men who are forced into a position like mine. To achieve my goals, I've set up "Pedalthon", a vehicle to increase awareness and attract charitable dollars to ANZUP.
The Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate (ANZUP) Clinical Trials Group's mission is to undertake high-quality research targeted specifically at below the belt urogenital cancers: prostate, kidney, bladder and testicular. ANZUP is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that draws on multidisciplinary membership of researchers, health professionals and consumers to develop and conduct rigorous clinical trials. More information on ANZUP is available at www.anzup.org.au.
Sydney University first grade player James McMahon has known Simon throughout his diagnosis and treatment, "Sim and I have been great mates since our days at College and it was a bit of a reality check for all the boys when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It's great to see him back at it and, a good lesson for us all that we don't have to be in our 50's or so before we need to consider these things. Pedalthon is an unreal challenge so I'm right behind him, and I hope you will be too".
Pedalthon's inaugural event will be the "Below the Belt Pedalthon" on the 16th of September at Eastern Creek. It is a team based corporate cycling challenge. More information about the ride, how to participate and how to support the cause is at www.belowthebeltpedalthon.org.au
Through the bike ride, please help me to help other guys tackle this very serious issue. We are looking for teams of four or more to compete and a few more sponsors to make the day a success. I have seen firsthand, what a huge difference funding can make to the treatment of people with these cancers. Please join me on September 16 at Eastern Creek for what will become the men's cancer awareness event of the year.
You can contact me directly or contact ANZUP's fundrasing team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more details on how to support the cause.
I'd like to thank Sydney University Football Club for their support of the Below the Belt Pedalthon initiative and allowing me to tell my story. Hopefully together we can make the below the belt discussion one we are all talking about.