“ Fight hard and fight smart. Take notes and never give up! Get second opinions. Maybe even 3rd and 4th.
Matt Ferstler is a tireless mAss Kicker! Shortly after his testicular cancer diagnosis, he created The Testicular Cancer Foundation. He is always on the move. We met him 4 years ago in Austin, Texas and have kept in contact ever since. We were very fortunate to catch him on his down time and ask him a few questions.
mK: Thanks for hanging out Matt! First question… What/ when was your diagnosis? How did you find out about your diagnosis?
MF: I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer, Jan 23rd 2009. Coming up on my fifth year of remission!
mK: Congrats on 5 years! What were your initial symptoms?
MF: I noticed about a year earlier that I had a few lumps on the left testicle. I didn’t know what that meant. Waited a year and then went to see a urologist.
mK: Why did you get involved with advocacy? What exactly does the Testicular Cancer Foundation do?
MF: When I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, I honestly didn’t know anything about the disease. Isn’t that crazy? Testicular cancer is the #1 cancer in men ages 15 -35 and I didn’t really know anything about it! So, I guess it just seemed logical to be part of the movement to change that. I wanted to spread the message to anyone and everyone that this is such a curable cancer if young men knew how to do a simple, self-examination and catch it early. So I started the organization—Testicular Cancer Foundation —in October 2009 while I was still going through my own cancer journey.
Testicular Cancer Foundation provides education and support to young adult men, in the effort to raise awareness about testicular cancer. Our mission is very simple and to the point. We want to make sure that all young adult men know about the disease and know how detect it early.
Testicular Cancer Foundation provides testicular cancer education materials in the form of shower cards, brochures, website.
Additionally, I personally spend a significant amount of my time helping families, speaking, and spreading the mission of TCF to the medical and healthcare communities as well as schools and anywhere you find groups of young men.
mK: Who is your hero or heroes?
MF: My father is hero! He has worked so hard his entire life. Love the drive that he has!
mK: What motivates you?
MF: Knowing that men are diagnosed much like I was without knowing that they could have checked themselves and caught the disease early. Motivates everyone at TCF!
mK: Right! When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?
MF: That day! Cancer couldn’t take anything away from me!
mK: You never lost control! That is really cool! What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
MF: I love to laugh, hate to cry and tend to get angry every now and then…
mK: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
MF: Building a non-profit organization from scratch is both exhilarating and very challenging. I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in three short years. Staying true to our mission, Testicular Cancer Foundation has helped hundreds of men and their families dealing with a diagnosis of testicular cancer. We’ve also reached out to literally thousands of men to educate them about self-exams and early detection. I know we are saving lives…and at the end of it all, there is no greater accomplishment, right?
But if you are curious about our greatest accomplishment, I hope you’ll follow our cause. We have so many terrific plans. We’re committed to staying true to our mission. The best will come when all testicular cancers are caught at stage one. And TCF will not rest until that is a reality.
mK: What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor? How did you overcome it?
MF: The uncertainty of it all was the darkest part. I was 22 years old when I was diagnosed and I had the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath me. That left me with so many questions. “What is cancer?” “Will I live?” “Will I have kids?” “What’s the pain like?” Those were exhausting emotions to deal with while all of my friends were having fun at college. It’s a heavy weight, for sure. And the unknown of it all was absolutely draining.
mK: The unknown is definitely draining! What is your guilty pleasure?
MF: Chocolate: Especially milk chocolate! My wife says I should only eat dark chocolate though….
mK: HAHAHA! She might have a point. Describe your perfect day?.
MF: Perfect day would be with my wife on some ski slopes! Nothing more relaxing than a casual day skiing.
mK: People ski in Texas? What do you like to do in your spare time?
MF: Work! I love my job and what it means. I get to make a difference in small ways and that is worth every second of it!
mK: You really have a passion for what you are doing! Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
MF: Fight hard and fight smart. Take notes and never give up! Get second opinions. Maybe even 3rd and 4th.
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
MF: I really enjoy fly-fishing!
mK: Like A River Runs Through It? Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
MF: As cancer survivors, we all have a unique experience and journey. For me, my journey has given me the roadmap for living the balance of my life. I embrace the adversities I’ve been given because they have helped me live a richer, deeper life. They also have given me sense of obligation. An obligation to help others and be a leading voice in compassion and change.
And for me, I hope that’s the legacy I give back to this amazing cancer community.
Matt Ferstler: milk chocolate rebel, Texas ski bunny, fly guy,(fly-fishing guy) and driven testicular cancer advocate! Check out the great stuff at the Testicular Cancer Foundation. Thanks for hanging out Matt!