Footballer Sébastien Haller Urges Men to Get Checked as He Reveals How He Overcame Testicular Cancer Diagnosis
‘You cannot be ashamed,’ he says. ‘We are not checking only for ourselves but also for our family and friends and those around us’
Ivory Coast and Borussia Dortmund striker Sébastien Haller returned to professional football in January following six months of treatment for testicular cancer. The former West Ham and Ajax forward has since opened up about his diagnosis and urged men to get checked if they suspect they may have a health issue.
The 28-year-old, who scored his first goal for Dortmund since his testicular cancer diagnosis in a 5-1 win against SC Freiburg on World Cancer Day, was diagnosed with a tumour on 18 July last year.
In an interview with The Times newspaper, Haller revealed that he first became aware of an issue with his health while away on international duty with the Ivory Coast national side on 31 May. It wasn’t until six weeks later, though, that he had it checked.
'I started the national team [break] with this pain in my belly,’ he said. ‘I thought it was a stomach ache, three days of not digesting well, feeling like you have something in your stomach.
‘"It’s OK," I thought. I’m not someone that always goes to see the doctor because I have pain. I take a few pills, it goes away. I tried to play, I trained. Then I had four days of flu symptoms: I was struggling to breathe, I couldn’t finish training.’
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Following an MRI scan, doctors found a tumour and diagnosed Haller with testicular cancer. In an interview with the BBC, he described how he dealt with the diagnosis.
‘Of course, you realise it is something really serious that is happening, that a lot of things can change,’ said Haller. ‘But the urologist helped me not to be scared. He said I could heal well. I took all his words for granted.’
Throughout his six months of treatment, Haller underwent two surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy, which led to side effects including hair loss and bloating. ‘This is nothing,’ he told The Times. ‘For me, this is just appearance, just physical. The real side-effects are the headaches, the nausea, the pains in your stomach.’
Since returning for Dortmund, Haller has issued a message to men to get checked by a doctor if they feel unwell or suspect something could be wrong with their health.
‘The most important thing is not to think it can only happen to other people,' he told the BBC. ‘I was one of them seven months ago. I was fit and I was doing well. In the space of three months the level I had of this tumour was really high.
‘We need to check. You cannot be ashamed. We are not checking only for ourselves but also for our family and friends and those around us. It can save a lot of lives.’