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Daanish Baig, testicular cancer survivor, is out to make a difference. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: A Dubai boy who was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer when he was 16 has spoken of his ordeal and shared a story of hope.

Daanish Baig, now 17, is a cancer survivor and has been on remission for the past six months. He says he is on a mission to raise awareness on this silent cancer that can go unnoticed in many young boys.

“Testicular cancer is acommon disease among teenage boys. Yet, there is little known about its symptoms. Following my cancer and now remission, I want to raise awareness on the cancer so I can help someone in need. Since I was not aware of the symptoms, I did not check with a doctor. My diagnosis came late. But I want to change this for others,” he said.

Undiscovered symptom at birth

Baig was born with hypospadiasis - a rare condition where the opening of the penis is on the underside rather than the tip - and undescended testes. “Some medical experts believe that boys born with these conditions are at higher risk. But it is not definite. And certainly all boys born with this are not going to end up with testicular cancer. But it is worth checking for symptoms regularly,” he said.

He recalled developing a random pain in the scrotum one day. “My father took me to the doctor. Days later, I was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer.”

Baig said: “The ‘random’ pain that I developed did not even last 10 minutes. But the ultrasound showed a lump on the right testes. Blood tests for tumour markers were done, which confirmed cancer. The stage 4 diagnosis was made after a PET scan and biopsy following an orchidectomy [testes removal].”

Baig was operated in his hometown Bangalore, in India. He said: “I had four cycles of very intensive chemotherapy. Here I am six months later, free of cancer. Last month, my family and I celebrated my six months of remission. Today, life is back to normal. I am studying and have made a lots of friends.

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Daanish Baig did Zen drawings to keep himself busy after his chemotherapy sessions. Image Credit: Supplied

He recalled a heightened sense of smell during his chemotherapy. “Everyone reacts to chemotherapy differently. I just happened to have a heightened sense of smell. Of course, I had nausea and lost all my hair. But it has grown back now, so all is good.”

Meditative art

Baig resorted to Zentangles, a meditative art to get through his chemotherapy. “I have always loved drawing, and I love animals. So I put both together and did some Zentangles of animal faces. It felt good. The doctors in my hospital were so impressed. Every day I had different doctors coming up to see what I had created. I was pretty much the talk of the hospital.”

He added: “So my advice to children going through chemotherapy – find something that pleases your senses to help you pull through the journey.”

Baig said: “Today what I want to do is raise awareness on self-checks which paves the way for early diagnosis which is the key.

He added that his symptoms were similar to a case of “aggressive puberty”.

“I also had weight gain because I was eating a lot. I had horrible mood swings. I would be happy one second and the next second I would be snapping… We thought it was puberty but it was actually cancer.”

Baig said, “Testicular cancer has a very good rate of recovery. The mortality rate for testicular cancer is less than one per cent... but it’s very silent form of cancer and it can progress very fast. I had fourth stage of cancer and I am cancer free today.”