Actor Jack James Ryan joins forces with Teenage Cancer Trust
- Music and Entertainment
Coronation Street star Jack James Ryan, 26, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2017, aged just 19.
Now he’s joining forces with Teenage Cancer Trust to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer in young people and is urging people to get themselves checked out if they have any concerns.
We sat down with Jack to learn more about his experiences.
When did you first notice something wasn’t right?
I felt fine health-wise but when I found a lump on my left testicle, I instantly knew something was off. My mum and sister were in the house at the time, and I shouted for them, told them what I had found, and they said they’d take me to the GP first thing in the morning. I was apprehensive about going, but I knew I had to.
What happened at the GP and what treatment did you have?
The GP examined me, and I could tell from her expression that there must be something wrong, she didn’t have a good poker face! She referred me to hospital where I had blood tests and scans, which confirmed I had testicular cancer.
Within two weeks I was on the operating table having my testicle removed.
The cancer hadn’t spread, so after the operation I didn’t need any further treatment. I’m so grateful for that.
How did your diagnosis affect your mental health?
It hit me really hard. I had to take a few months off from drama school to recover at home, it was it really tough, I felt like I was missing out on the opportunity that I’d worked so hard to get. It was hard being separated from my friends too – the whole experience made me feel like my life was being stripped away from me.
I was really lucky to have the support of my family and friends, and my drama school were really understanding too. I had been cast in my final show and the director said that unless I told him otherwise, I’d be in the show in whatever capacity, even if I was still in a wheelchair.
One positive thing from going through all of this is that it encouraged me to be more open about my feelings. For the first time I started to just admit to others that I was feeling like rubbish rather than pretending I was OK.
How did the operation affect your body confidence?
When I was in recovery I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would be like to go back to uni and get back into dating and meeting new people. I was self-conscious and anxious about being intimate because the operation had changed my body. It was really difficult. I’ve had a prosthetic testicle put in since then, which has helped my body confidence.
How are you now?
I’m doing well and it’s really important to me to talk about what I’ve been through to help other people.
I wrote a play about my experiences called ‘Me and My Left Ball’ and it was a huge part of my grieving process, I am really proud of it. Some of the conversations in the play are literally copied and pasted from Facebook messages and texts I had from people, so it’s very personal! I’m hoping to take the play on tour at some point.
I really hope that in the future Coronation Street might have a testicular cancer storyline too.
What advice would you give to other young people?
The biggest thing is to check your body regularly, and if anything does feel unusual or different to get it checked out.
With testicular cancer people can sometimes be nervous and embarrassed to go to the doctors and ask for help. But if you think something isn’t right - you should go and get it checked as soon as possible. Just do it.
Find out more about the main signs and symptoms of testicular cancer.
You can find more information about the five most common cancer warning signs in young people here