In 1995, while in his thirties, Torsten Koehler was diagnosed with testicular cancer, ironically whilst educating young teenagers about sex education at a school where he was employed as a teacher.
His journey of survival started by openly confronting his thoughts and emotions, relating the reactions of his friends, family and not least, his students, who gave him enormous help and hope. With their encouragement, the German version of his book “Love your nuts – Testicular Cancer touched my Life” was published in Germany in 2004, and after that in English in 2011.
Torsten is now sharing his story through the platform of the Love Your Nuts (LYN) Foundation, emphasising how everybody is valuable as they are, and how “fantesticle” life can be, and therefore has a passion for this campaign. He realised just because he is open to what happened to him he is saving lives.
His motivation to start the LYN Foundation comes from a former student who thanked him for making him aware during his awareness sessions at the school they attended – “Because you made us aware I went to the doctor in time. I’ve got testicular cancer too. I’m 16 and you saved my life”.
The LYN Foundation believes that no men would die of testicular cancer if they knew about this cancer and were aware of how to prevent it. Boys and men die from testicular cancer for the following two reasons:
- During puberty the body changes. Boys feel these lumps but think it is part of growing up. So they think it will go away again. If they knew that it could be cancer, their lives could have been saved!
- Men feel the lumps but find it too embarrassing to go to the doctor. If they knew that it could be cancer, their lives could have been saved.
Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in males aged 15-40, which are young teenagers and their fathers. LYN’s goal is to raise awareness of testicular cancer by educating communities about the ‘rarely spoken about’ cancer that often remains undetected in young adults due to the diverse society in South Africa, where cultural taboos, stigmas and lack of knowledge about the subject is rife. However, this can be changed through LYN awareness where men which know their bodies can have a better outcome, and have a chance of correct diagnosis and hence treatment.
Knowledge and early detection are therefore the best weapons against cancer!
LYN implements the following activities:
Education – LYN educates and raises awareness at schools, events and corporates in a humorous way because humour is the best way to get a guy’s attention. Its ‘goodie bag’ is an important element of its main drive to bring awareness to every learner, student or employee. LYN’s visits to schools or corporates include an educational talk (and/or stage play) and a school cancer programme.
Awareness – the Nuts Team is a bunch of ballsy runners and cyclists who raise awareness and funds at running and cycling events nationally and internationally. If you are a runner or cyclist, please contact LYN if you like to be part of the Nuts Team. firstname.lastname@example.org
Support – LYN supports men diagnosed with testicular cancer emotionally through their cancer journey. It is easier to talk to a fellow survivor than to friends and family because a survivor has “been there” and understands the fears, doubts and helplessness of the patient.
“My mission is to give hope to people with cancer and make young men, in particular, aware of the importance of checking their testicles on a regular basis. Early detection saves lives, so this message is crucial for young men to hear and act upon.”
This is the sixth Sport 4 Good profile of my 2018 #NGOs4Africa Campaign.