When it comes to self-checks against cancer, everyone has the power to save their own life. This rang true for Russel Hryvnak, 36, a communications and marketing professional based in Alburtis, Pa., whose early detection made all the difference in catching testicular cancer. His choice to regularly self-check ensured his survival.
Self-Checks and a Great Team at LVHN Caught Testicular Cancer Early
Russel Hryvnak credits early detection with saving his life
A fast timeline
In January 2023, Hryvnak did a regular testicular self-check after experiencing unusual pain while doing housework. This time, something didn't seem right. There was a lump.
He continued to self-monitor, but after a few weeks with no improvement, he scheduled an appointment for early February. This appointment marked the beginning of a quick two-week process to find and resolve Hryvnak’s condition. From that point, his care progressed rapidly.
After the appointment, he had an ultrasound to further examine the issue.
The night his results came in, urologist Jonathan Bingham, MD, with LVPG Urology, called and spoke to him about what they meant – that he had cancer in one of his testicles. They also discussed next steps – which included emergency surgery. The cancer needed to be removed immediately to prevent potential spread. Dr. Bingham ensured the surgery could happen as soon as possible, working with his care team to find availability and schedule surgery for the next morning at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest.
In that surgery, Dr. Bingham removed the affected testicle. That very same day, Hyrvnak was home and resting in bed. A week later, Dr. Bingham called with the great news that the cancer had been contained without the need for chemotherapy or radiation. The quick response had saved his life.
Hyrvnak says he feels very lucky. “It was all quite a whirlwind,” he says. “But I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I hung up the phone.”
For Hryvnak, the decision to choose Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) was simple. His wife, Janelle Alfano, is director of perioperative business operations at LVHN, and they both trust LVHN to provide the best care, no matter what the need is. In fact, just last summer he went to LVHN to repair a broken hand.
"LVHN makes care convenient with so many ExpressCARE locations, doctors offices and hospitals in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities," he says.
The road to recovery
Just a few months post-surgery Hryvnak is doing well. The discomfort from the cancer and subsequent surgery have both subsided, leaving him ready to return to his normal life. Knowing the importance of being vigilant, he will continue to get regular blood tests, CT scans and X-rays to monitor in case the cancer returns. Putting his health first has become a top priority, and the care he continues to receive at LVHN helps him stay on top of his recovery.
“It all happened so quickly for me, and now that I am cancer-free, I look forward to the days ahead,” Hryvnak says. “I’m excited for all the memories I'll create with my friends and family in the coming years because we caught the cancer early.”
Testing for testicular cancer
June is National Men’s Health Month, which makes it the perfect time to schedule your test.
Did you know?
“Men between the ages of 18 and 35 need to do self examination and see a doctor as soon as possible if they feel any change in their testicular exam,” Dr. Bingham says. “About one in every 250 males will develop testicular cancer in their lifetime. Awareness and a simple test are pivotal to catching and eliminating the cancer.”
Finding this type of cancer early can save someone’s life, so men are encouraged to self-check once a month. Men are encouraged to self-check while standing, during or after a shower. You want the scrotal skin to be warm and relaxed. Self-checks are simple and take only a few seconds.
- To start, gently feel your scrotal sac and locate a testicle.
- Using one hand to stabilize the testicle, use your other fingers and thumb to firmly feel the entire surface of the testicle.
- Repeat these steps on the other testicle.
If you cannot find one or both testicles, feel a collection of thin tubes above a testicle, or have pain or swelling, report these symptoms to your doctor. Testicles should feel firm, but not hard. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how to self-check or your symptoms.
And, it’s important to spread the word even if it’s an uncomfortable topic.
“If I can raise awareness about testicular cancer and help one other man – father, brother or friend – do the same, then I’m happy to carry that banner,” Hryvnak says.