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Nicki Anderson: Naperville native overcomes testicular cancer

<p>Naperville native Jonathan Miers, shown here in front of Old Main at North Central College, lives in the Phillipines. | Courtesy of Positively Naperville</p>

Naperville native Jonathan Miers, shown here in front of Old Main at North Central College, lives in the Phillipines. | Courtesy of Positively Naperville

Born and raised in Naperville with the dream of working abroad, Jonathan Miers’ dream came true.

After graduating with his masters in international business from North Central College and a backpacking journey throughout Europe, he eventually ended up working and living in the Philippines. Since Miers’s arrival in the Philippines, it’s been full of unexpected surprises.

The devastation of two events dramatically changed his life, the first the very public Typhoon Yolanda, and the second, a very personal diagnosis.

Miers always had been active. Once he moved to the Philippines to begin his job with GoAbroad.com, he secured a great group of friends that were also his daily exercise buddies. Although his activity level was great, the food was a bit of a challenge. In the Philippines, there is heavy salt, fat and meat, which is not the way he was used to eating. But overall he was a healthy, young man.

His new life in the Philippines was going well, realizing his dream of working abroad as an operations manager and managing website development for GoAbroad.com

However, in August of last year, that all changed when he woke up and noticed something was not right. Upon conversations with a pharmacist friend back in the states, Miers was encouraged to visit a doctor to see what was going on. At 29 years old, cancer wasn’t even a thought.

“I’m far from what you would call a ‘self-exam’ guy, especially below the belt,” he said. “I don’t think I had ever really done a self-exam. Lucky for me, the mass was large enough that it was evident I needed to have someone take a look.”

When Miers first went to the hospital, the urologist believed it was just an infection of some sort and prescribed antibiotics.

“After a week of the antibiotics, I contacted my pharmacist friend again, and he felt I should have seen improvement by now,” Miers said. “He suggested I go back to the doctor. When I returned to the doctor, they ordered an ultrasound. The morning of Aug. 12, 2013, the radiologist discovered a mass growth. I was to see the doctor that afternoon.”

Before heading to the doctor, Jonathan thought it would be a good idea to ask a Filipino friend to go along, not only for the potential language barrier, but for emotional support, so he asked his boss’s wife. Upon reflection, he believes it was one of the best things he could have done.

“The doctor still believed it was nothing, but went ahead and ordered another ultrasound with more sophisticated equipment,” he said. “By 5 p.m. it was confirmed, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.”

Though testicular cancer is very rare, only 6,000 new cases each year, a late diagnosis can be deadly. Since Miers was diagnosed early, his prognosis was good, although the fear of the process to recovery was frightening.

Today, Miers is cancer free thanks to early detection. Because of his experience, he is dedicated to educating young men because he knows only too well that cancer is not discriminating.

Guys, here are some ways Miers suggests to protect yourself.

Just as women must do monthly self-breast exams, guys need to do the same with testicles.

Though it is a rare cancer, it will affect 3/100 people. To date, there are no confirmed risk factors.

If something doesn’t seem right, go to a doctor! “My experience was something much easier because I caught it early. Testicular cancer can kill, and it does kill but only for those who haven’t been diagnosed early enough.”

Testicular cancer is the No. 1 cancer for men 15 to 35 years old. (www.tc-cancer.com)

The conversation can be awkward, but it’s your life on the line. Talk to your parents or professional if you have a concern, they are there for you.

“After all is said and done, and now that I’m cancer free, I realize that life is short and tough things will happen,” Miers said. “It’s all in what you do with each experience.”

Between Miers’s experiences with testicular cancer and Typhoon Yolanda, he has changed considerably.

“I would say that I have changed more in the six months than I have in 10 years,” he says. “They weren’t fun experiences, but I am happy I went through them as I am a better person for it.

“I have learned just how strong of a family unit I have, the support from my immediate family was simply amazing.”

Note: Miers is in full remission and back to his full life in the Philippines. In addition to his job, he is a tireless advocate for victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

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