Cracking the Nut on Testicular Cancer Awareness and Men’s Health Through Humor. A Ballsy Sense of Tumor has three primary goals: To promote conversation about men’s health in society through humor, awareness, and education, to portray an open and honest look at what it means to be a cancer survivor, and to provide a patient-friendly resource for the newly diagnosed, other testicular cancer patients/survivors, and their families.

What is the purpose of ABSOT? – Click Here to go to ABSOT website

The ball has been dropped on testicular cancer awareness. Simply put, this disease and other men’s health issues are not talked about enough in society.   My hopes are that sharing my story from beginning to end with an open and humorous manner will stimulate more open discussion and bring a larger focus to men’s health in general. Knowing someone who is going through cancer can help make it more real to men who might not otherwise be concerned about their own health. I put my face where their balls are (which is a somewhat awkward turn of phrase). I want to create a space of comfort and open conversations around this stigmatized, uncomfortable topic and set people at ease. Testicles and men’s health matters don’t have to be seen only as sexual; they must be destigmatized.

To achieve this mission, A Ballsy Sense of Tumor has three primary goals:

Who exactly are you?

My name is Justin Birckbichler. I’m a pretty average guy who relocated to Virginia after living in Pennsylvania for 22 years. I’m white, in my twenties, slightly above average in height and weight, have brown, spiked hair and blue eyes, and have a tendency to wear sleeveless shirts and shorts year round. I’ve been a fourth grade teacher since 2013 and love working with kids.

What’s your connection to testicular cancer?

I was diagnosed with Stage IIB Nonseminoma cancer in November 2016. It’s a form of testicular cancer that spread to my lymph nodes. I had surgery to remove the original mass and my affected testicle on October 28th, started chemotherapy on November 28th to get rid of the remaining cancerous cells, and completed it in January 2017. In March, my doctor told me I was in remission, and as of my latest scan in December 2018, I still am.

What was your life like before November 2016? 

2016 was an amazing year. In January, I was accepted to the first Google for Education Certified Innovator Academy and got to actually visit the Googleplex in Mountain View, California the following month. February was also the month I got engaged! Two days shy of our two year anniversary, I proposed to Mallory, my then-girlfriend. We bought our first home in July and relocated to an absolutely incredible area of Virginia. Soon thereafter, we picked out a cute Yorkie puppy to join our family, along with our cat.

In addition to having a great first ten months of 2016, I had 25 years of having the most boring medical history ever. I had scoliosis for a few years, but it stabilized. I battled with depression in high school but survived that. I’ve had some cavities filled and my wisdom teeth removed. I suffered a mild concussion once when I took a tumble on a snowboarding trip. I am colorblind, but that hasn’t changed at all in the past few years.

I was the picture of health and always got the cheapest health insurance with the least amount of coverage. I only happened to upgrade it in my new school district because it was cheaper than the minimum coverage in my previous district.

Why did you start A Ballsy Sense of Tumor?

Simply put, when I was diagnosed, I had a hard time finding information written in patient friendly terms about experiencing testicular cancer. There were a lot of clinical websites, but nothing easily digestible or relatable. I wanted to create a resource that would be helpful for a person going through what I went through.

That was my original intention, but soon after starting the blog and doing more research into the state of men’s health, my main focus shifted to the above mentioned purpose of promoting open discussion about testicular cancer men’s health. After finishing treatment, I realized there was a lack of dialogue about what it means to be a cancer survivor, so that’s how I arrived at the three main goals.

Click here to see the rest of Elephants and Tea’s partners and their resources for living with cancer!