Sifting through stories about cats and cars, Taylor Tyree saw a social media post that saved his life. The 21-year-old student gives thanks to a post by Reddit user “uniballer” exhibiting a graphic, post prostate cancer picture of his removed testicle and a list of accompanying symptoms that sounded familiar.
Tyree said after seeing the post and realizing similarities, he found the courage to visit the doctor. Symptoms of testicular cancer include swollen testicles, heaviness in the scrotum and dull pain in the lower belly and back.
After anxiously sitting in a waiting room, Tyree had a routine checkup that led to immediate follow-up tests. Doctors found a large mass in Tyree’s left testicle which was cancerous. Four days after being motivated by the Reddit post, Tyree went under anesthesia and had his left testicle removed. Tyree has Reddit to thank for the post that led him to a cancer diagnosis. But the Colorado School of Mines student said he also found emotional support through Reddit on his journey.
In the beginning, it was difficult for Tyree to accept the surgery which would save him from cancer. “I was a little bit scared,” he said, “but…. I was coping with it…laughing about it.”
While some posts were serious, others tried to make light of the situation and celebrate Tyree’s early detection. One Reddit user said, “You’re going to feel like an old man.” Still, like any person recovering from surgery to reproductive organs, Tyree had other worries. A Reddit user who survived testicular cancer wrote to Tyree saying he was expecting a child with his wife, and that he should not worry about fertility. “It’s just something that happens… [I’ll] not have to think about it every day,” said Tyree.
Once the story of his diagnosis went public on Reddit, Tyree took to the internet himself in a mission to promote health and warn others of cancer signs but not before thanking the original poster, “uniballer.” “Hey…thank you for your post,” Tyree said.
Tyree is not the only person who has been inspired by Reddit to visit the doctor over cancer worries. An unidentified, young man took a home pregnancy test left by an ex-girlfriend at his house as a prank. He was surprised to find a positive pregnancy read.
A friend of the young man posted a cartoon of the pregnancy test on Reddit, which caught the attention of over 1,300 concerned users. “If this is true…you should check yourself for…cancer,” said a Reddit user. Similar remarks encouraged the young man to research this odd event. Pregnancy tests detect in the urine a hormone called beta human chorionic gonadotropin, which is generally related to placentas, but also believed to be connected to testicular cancer. The worried cartoonist passed along the comments to his friend.
The man immediately visited the doctor and discovered he had a cancerous mass in his right testicle. It is still unclear whether testicle removal will be necessary, because the cancer was caught early.
Taylor Tyree and others have Reddit to thank for leading to the diagnosis of their testicular cancer, showing the true magic of social media.
By Erin P. Friar