Testicular Cancer Survivor Treks Through Desert to Raise Support

Ellil Mathiyan is the sort of lively character most people can’t believe experienced a double cancer diagnosis. He describes how people usually respond with “are you sure?” or “you’re kidding” when he talks about the care routines he undertakes. Perhaps the reason people respond so incredulously is that the rectal and testicular cancer survivor often walks over 6 miles a day while regularly participating in swimming and line-dancing. Now, Mathiyan has announced a plan to adventure over 1000 miles across the Gobi desert to raise money for the Singapore Cancer Society. Keep reading, or follow the original story here, for more information.

What is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer, though generally rare, is the most common cancer affecting men between the ages of 15 and 35. Testicular cancer occurs in the sperm producing glands known as the testicles. The cancer is classified into two groups: seminomas, which tend to appear more frequently in older males, and non-seminomas, which appear earlier in life and are often more aggressive.

Symptoms of testicular cancer may include a lump, swelling, or pain in the testicle, abdominal, or groin ache, or a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum. Testicular cancer is most often diagnosed through physical exam, ultrasound, blood tests, serum tumor marker tests, or surgical examination. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the most common treatments for testicular cancer.

Click here to learn more about testicular cancer.

Mathiyan’s Multi-Cancer Journey

Cancer changed Mathiyan’s life in 2011. He was initially diagnosed with rectal cancer. The treatment included a surgical procedure which removed the cancerous tumor. As part of the process, however, doctors also had to remove his rectum. In the midst of all this, doctor’s noticed a suspicious lump on one side of Mathiyan’s groin.

When doctor’s described the situation to Mathiyan – it was unkown that the lump represented testicular cancer a this point – he responded “why not? You buy one, you get one free.” Shortly after the surgery, results came back that the lump was malignant.

Mathiyan describes learning that he had testicular cancer as being hit with a “triple whammy.” He had already been through rectal cancer and was adapting to a stoma. Mathiyan would undergo twenty-eight radiation treatments and eight cycle of chemotherapy before reaching freedom from cancer.

Discovering support groups, says Mathiyan, was a major turning point in his experiences. It allowed him to put to rest feelings of isolation, and gave him motivation to support others who he saw were in need of help.

Desert Trek

Ellil Mathiyan is going to be 60 next year. He describes his planned trek through the Gobi desert as a challenge. It’s about pushing himself just a little bit harder, and a little bit further. Beyond the mental and physical components of the challenge, Mathiyan says he is all about the journey being part of something bigger – about raising money for cancer – it is, in his words, a big part of what he does.

The Gobi expedition will last six days. The team, led by Scott Tay of Beyond Expeditions SG, consists primarily of cancer survivors, caregivers, and Singapore Cancer Society charity athletes. The group hopes to raise a total of $100,000 in support of Singapore Cancer Society.

For his part, Mathiyasn describes his ambition as being able to reach out to people who are going through similar experiences to his. He wants to make a difference in lives where people need help. He admits that he doesn’t know whether or not his cancer will return. The uncertainty of this causes him to fell that each day is important – they are all what he describes as “a bonus.” He says he has a choice to make: either to do whatever he wants and have fun, or “reach out to people and do something very useful.”


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