Sunderland University student, 21, gets cancer all clear after battling illness twice in two years

A Sunderland student is celebrating the all-clear from cancer after being diagnosed with the disease twice in six months.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 3:00 pm
Sunderland University student Sean Tighe is urging other men to check themselves. Picture: David Wood.

And 21-year-old Sean Tighe is celebrating in style as he begins training for this autumn’s Great North Run, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Sean has already gone through more hospital treatment than most will receive in their lifetime after being diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was only 20.

The Sunderland University student is now calling on all men to check themselves and visit a doctor if they notice anything out of the ordinary, as it could save their life.

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Sean was diagnosed with cancer twice in six months.

Staying positive in the face of fear

Sean was in his final year studying Sports Journalism as an undergraduate when he noticed that something had changed.

After some tests, doctors told him they had discovered a tumour and that he would need surgery going forward.

Sean said: “I was 20 years old and panic set in. I just felt pure fear.

“As soon as you hear the word tumour, it just makes you afraid. They didn’t say cancer, but I knew straight away that’s what it was.”

After three weeks, Sean returned to his studies and life began to move on – until the 21-year-old noticed he was feeling tired and weak.

As was he was preparing to start his Masters, Sean’s doctors discovered another tumour in his chest.

Determined to “get on with it”, the student then faced nine weeks of chemotherapy.

“Even while I was undergoing the chemotherapy, I was still going into university,” Sean said.

“My hair had started to fall out and I found that quite difficult to begin with, but I’ve always been someone who’s had quite a positive outlook on life and I managed to maintain that.”

A week before Christmas, a specialist nurse at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital confirmed that the last trace of Sean’s cancer has gone.

Sean said: “Men should be, and need to be, aware of the importance of checking themselves.

“Since this happened to me, I’ve had friends on the phone asking about symptoms and questioning me – which is good.

“I can only hope something positive comes from everything that’s happened.”

How to check your yourself – and what to do next

The best time to check your testicles is during, or right after, a warm bath or shower.

Use your fingers and thumb to examine each testicle, feeling for lumps, swellings or anything unusual – or differences between the two testicles.

It’s normal for the testicles to be slightly different in size and for one to hang lower than the other.

Lumps or swellings can be caused by other conditions, and most lumps aren’t cancer – but it’s important to get anything unusual checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

You can also attend a local sexual health clinic for advice.