Don’t Give Up on Testicular Cancer

Survived Testicular Cancer, then, Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro

June 19, 2023 The Max Mallory Foundation - Joyce Lofstrom host Season 3 Episode 7
Survived Testicular Cancer, then, Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro
Don’t Give Up on Testicular Cancer
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Don’t Give Up on Testicular Cancer
Survived Testicular Cancer, then, Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro
Jun 19, 2023 Season 3 Episode 7
The Max Mallory Foundation - Joyce Lofstrom host

Doug McArthur was 20 years old when he was a junior in college and found a lump on his testicle. He waited a few months before heading to the student health clinic, where the doctor suspected cancer. He told Doug to go home, confirm the cancer diagnosis, and set up a treatment plan.

Doug left his college dorm in central California and headed home to follow his testicular cancer treatment plan. Now, four years later, this structural engineer has just returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at the top of Africa. He made the trip with 10 other men from ages 22 to 61, all cancer survivors raising funds for Movember, the charity focused on men's health.

Doug McArthur shares his cancer and mountain climbing journeys in this episode of Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer, a podcast from the Max Mallory Foundation.

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Support the Show.

Find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Linkedin.

If you can please support our nonprofit through Patreon.

Show Notes Transcript

Doug McArthur was 20 years old when he was a junior in college and found a lump on his testicle. He waited a few months before heading to the student health clinic, where the doctor suspected cancer. He told Doug to go home, confirm the cancer diagnosis, and set up a treatment plan.

Doug left his college dorm in central California and headed home to follow his testicular cancer treatment plan. Now, four years later, this structural engineer has just returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at the top of Africa. He made the trip with 10 other men from ages 22 to 61, all cancer survivors raising funds for Movember, the charity focused on men's health.

Doug McArthur shares his cancer and mountain climbing journeys in this episode of Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer, a podcast from the Max Mallory Foundation.

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Linkedin.

If you can please support our nonprofit through Patreon.

Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer from the Max Mallory Foundation

Survived Testicular Cancer, then, Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro

Season 3, Episode 7


[00:00:00] ​Intro: Welcome to Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer, a podcast where testicular cancer survivors, caregivers, and others who have navigated the cancer journey, share their stories. The podcast comes to you from the Max Mallory Foundation, a nonprofit, family foundation focused on educating about testicular cancer in honor and in memory of Max Mallory, who died in 2016 at the young age of 22 from testicular cancer. Had he survived,

Max wanted to help young adults with cancer. This podcast helps meet that goal. Here now is your host, Joyce Lofstrom, Max's mom, and a young adult cancer survivor.


[00:01:04]Joyce Lofstrom: Hi, this is Joyce, and with me today is Doug McArthur, who was 20 years old when he was a junior in college and found a lump on his testicle. He waited a couple of months before heading to the student health clinic, or the doctor suspected cancer. He told. Doug to go home and confirm the diagnosis of cancer and set up a treatment plan.

[00:01:28] Doug did head home and followed the plan, which he will share with us, and now four years later, he's just come back from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at the top of Africa that happened in March, and he's going to tell us about that and why he did that, to help raise awareness about this disease. So, Doug, thanks for being here.

[00:01:49] Doug McArthur: Thank you for having me, Joyce. Excited to be here. 

[00:01:51] Joyce Lofstrom: So, let's start with a mountain climb. I think that's such an interesting story. I don't know the story but tell us about it. 

[00:01:59] Doug McArthur: [00:02:00] Yeah. So, about a month ago now a group of 11 guys from all over the U.S. As part of Movember, we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. We didn't know each other. We're all kind of supporters of Movember, which is a men's health organization that's worldwide. They started in Australia, but they're growing their presence a lot in the U.S. now. And they kind of have four focus areas, and that's prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and then, suicide prevention.

[00:02:26] Doug McArthur: We all kind of had different reasons for being there, but obviously mine was for testicular cancer and just kind of men's health in general. So, we applied for this trip in August or September of last year. And then we found out soon after that, and we had about four months of training that they kind of recommended.

[00:02:48] Doug McArthur: And we all raised at least $10,000 as well too to support the charity. So, in the end, I think we raised over $135,000. It was a group of 11, which is amazing.

[00:03:00] And so just an awesome trip altogether. We were there for about two weeks. It was an eight-day trek, 45 miles about.

[00:03:08] Doug McArthur: And then we went up to the summit at 19,341 feet and all of us made it. Oh wow. Pretty spectacular. 

[00:03:15] Joyce Lofstrom: Oh wow. Pretty spectacular. Oh gosh. So, did you have like somebody going with you, like a guide kind of person? 

[00:03:21] Doug McArthur: Yeah, we had, we had an awesome tourist company that kind of planned the whole trip. And then they had a local crew and guide, so we had about six or seven guides.

[00:03:31] Doug McArthur: And then a crew of about 40 people. So, it's, it's a big, big expedition, but they help you carry most of your stuff, and they cook all the meals for you. And so, they make it easy for pretty much anyone to be able to do. We have a wide range of ages on our trip.

[00:03:51] Doug McArthur: I was like the second youngest, I'm 24 right now, but there was a college student who was 22 and then went all the way up to, we had a 61-year-old guy who's also in our group. And we all made it up. But the crew, the crew was a big help in that. 

[00:04:03] Joyce Lofstrom: So, well, congrats. What an experience, I mean, wow. I mean, I don't like to jump off the high dive in a pool, so I can't imagine climbing Kilimanjaro. An experience, I mean, wow. I mean, I don't like to jump off the high dive in a pool, so I can't imagine climbing Kilimanjaro.

[00:04:13] Doug McArthur: But yeah, luckily, it's, it's just like a long hike steep hike, but nothing too treacherous or technical. So just an awesome experience. Definitely once in a lifetime trip.

[00:04:23] Joyce Lofstrom: So, well, let's then go back to why you did it and go back to your whole testicular cancer story and tell us about that. 

[00:04:32] Doug McArthur: So, I was first diagnosed in 2018 just coming up on five years now which is crazy. But I had first found out I was studying abroad the summer before. And I came back to the U.S. around August.

[00:04:47] Doug McArthur: I had a few weeks before I went back to school at Cal Poly in Central California. And I noticed something was a little off. It just felt. That there was like a little bump or lump in the shower. But I didn't really pay too much attention to it. I did a bit of Googling just to see what it could have been and oh, maybe it was just an infection that would go away or something.

[00:05:09] Doug McArthur: But it didn't really change much. So, after school started in September, I finally went to see the health center at our college. And the doctor there kind of first said he is like, yeah, this is serious, probably. And it was like a Friday afternoon. He's like, you should go get an ultrasound tomorrow morning, Saturday morning.

[00:05:27] Doug McArthur: I found out the results on like Sunday. Said it was a mass that was grape-sized and most likely to be cancer. And so, by Tuesday I was on my way back home to Las Vegas to be with my parents and get treatment there. Just because it would be easier to be in a bigger city and have more support around me.

[00:05:49] Doug McArthur: So, I got there, saw a urologist on Wednesday, I think I had surgery a week after that to have the mass removed, the testicle. And then a few more weeks of waiting to see the results and more blood tests to see how my levels were doing. And then the beginning of November is when they decided that I was going to go through chemo as well.

[00:06:10] Doug McArthur: It didn't really spread outside of the testicle, but there was a chance that it could have. And so, they just kind of wanted to be extra cautious, and my levels weren't going down all the way. So did three rounds of chemo, nine weeks long. So had that through Thanksgiving and Christmas and it wasn't, wasn't the worst thing ever.

[00:06:31] Doug McArthur: But it wasn't super fun. But yeah, I had a lot of time spent in the chair. Reading and then just doing nothing after a while. So, luckily, my dad was there and, my mom was around too, just to kind of help me through the whole thing. And then by January, the first week of January, I was done with chemo.

I got the port removed immediately and I went back to school a week later. And just went back to life after that. So quick experience with testicular cancer. But I learned a lot. And during the time I started chemo is when I first got involved with Movember, and that's when I started raising money for them as well too.

[00:07:10] While I was going through chemo, I thought I would do something productive while I'm sitting in a chair all day. So yeah, that's, that's the main reason. I climbed, that's kind of what got me into being an advocate for men's health and testicular cancer. And when I first got diagnosed in the initial stages of surgery, I just used humor a lot just to tell people about it.

[00:07:30] I knew I wasn't going to die. I'd caught it early enough that it was curable. And so, I just used lots of jokes and ball jokes and nuts and everything just to spread the word and get other people to start checking their balls and just making sure people are aware. So that's kind of how I got into the men's health world and just being an advocate for that.

[00:07:53] And since then, I think I've grown a lot in four or five years now, just graduating college and being on my own now with a full-time career. I've learned a lot about myself and just taking care of my health in multiple ways. So just trying to be a good advocate for that. 

[00:08:14] Joyce Lofstrom: That's great. We need more people like you to do that.

[00:08:17] Joyce Lofstrom: So, men are more, I guess, willing to talk about their health, check their balls, their testicles, and make sure it's okay cuz yeah, it's just what you have to do. And I'm glad that it all came together so well because catching it early is key. It's very

important to do that. 

So, what do you think your biggest challenge was during that? Because you had to take a semester off school or did you, were you able to keep going to school? 

[00:08:43] Doug McArthur: No. I took, we were on the quarter system, so I took a quarter off school and then one week of the next quarter.

But yeah. It worked out. Not too bad. I had taken some summer classes before, and I was able to graduate on time. So, which was awesome. Yeah. So it was, it was hard leaving college. I started the school year. I was in school for like two weeks. And then I had to like, leave abruptly and leave all my friends and my roommate was by himself too.

[00:09:09] And so that was tough. Just having to go back to Las Vegas where my parents are. My siblings weren't around either. They were in college as well. That was tough. But I had friends come to visit. Lots of care packages lots of other support. So, I think overall, like, yeah, chemo sucked, but I don't think it was the worst thing ever. For what it does. So, yeah, that’s it.

[00:09:36] Joyce Lofstrom: You have to think of the end game, don't you, with all of that. When you talked about going home to your parents, did you have a good support group? You said your friends came to visit, and what kind of support did you have to get through all of that?

[00:09:48] Doug McArthur: Yeah, I mean, I would say my parents They were a big help just in getting appointments and trying to manage blood tests and insurance and all the, the pains that come with medical care. So, they were a big help. And when I was going through chemo, my dad luckily retired a few years before, and so he drove me to my appointments every day and waited for me and bring food and take me to the hospital when I had a 103-degree fever. 

So yeah, he was just amazing support. I mean, I think he was affected maybe more than I was even just watching me go through that and the other people around me and the infusion room. Definitely not the most uplifting place, but the people there are still amazing.

[00:10:36] Doug McArthur: I still remember all my infusion nurses the people who were just giving us all the treatment, but they, they were incredible the whole, the whole nine weeks. 

[00:10:45] Joyce Lofstrom: So, yeah, I remember with Max, my son, he had some wonderful nurses, and I remember one of them. I'm pretty sure the last day, they brought in lemon bars she would make 

[00:10:58] Doug McArthur: Oh, really?

[00:10:59] Joyce Lofstrom: Yeah. So,] that was just something I think that I remember. I don't but yeah, it's so vital to have that, I mean, that kind of support. So, you talked about Movember earlier. How did you, and you started, you said while you were in chemo. How did you find, how did you find it? I just asked that because I think there are so many hopefully listeners that know about it, but if they don't, that's a good support group and system, so. 

[00:11:24] Doug McArthur: Mm-hmm. I can't remember the first time I ever heard about it. I think, I know there was like a there was a men and masculinities program at our college. And they were kind of, they were supporting Movember during that year.

[00:11:39] Doug McArthur: So, if you don't know much about Movember, they're a men's health charity. But the whole idea is that during the month of November, you grow a mustache. And that's kind of a way that. People will talk or ask about what are you growing a mustache for. And so, everyone shaves down to bare face on the first of November, and then throughout the month, they try to grow a mustache.

[00:11:58] Doug McArthur: And so that's the main month where they're trying to get donations because they do a lot of medical research and funding for that. But for the most part, it is just spreading awareness. And so, a lot of colleges had programs where they would, all the students would work to raise money and do different events to spread awareness about that.

[00:12:15] Doug McArthur: And so, I think I heard about it then. And then like I said, right after I started chemo, I was like, might as well try to do something productive. So, I started my own Movember campaign. Just posting about my experience and the chemo just so I could share with people what the experience was like.

[00:12:33] Doug McArthur: And then, I was able to like to raise a thousand dollars, I think, in that, that first month, which was cool just to see. So that was my first experience with Movember. And then, I think a few months after that, after I got into remission, they had heard about my story somehow, I think just by posting on social media and interacting with them on other stuff.

[00:12:52] Doug McArthur: And they wanted to film a video and kind of do a story for the upcoming Testicular Cancer Awareness month in that April. And so, I got to film a video with them that year and talk about my experience, my journey, and just what it means for me to be healthy now and how that affected me.

[00:13:11] Doug McArthur: So, and I think initially too when I was trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and yeah, if it was cancer or something else. But they have a lot of good resources just about the process. So first about finding the lump and then going to talk to a friend or a doctor, and then kind of the steps of getting an ultrasound and doing surgery and getting blood tests, and then the different types and what other surgeries could happen.

[00:13:38] Doug McArthur: And then kind of the other stuff too. So, after you go through chemo or even kind of the middle of talking about fertility and donating sperm and banking, that just to think about the future. And then after chemo, talking about fertility and just how it affects your life after that. So, a lot of, a lot of great resources, and they had people you could talk to just like kind of examples of men all over the world who had gone through testicular cancer at different stages, different ages to learn about it.

[00:14:09] Joyce Lofstrom: That's great, a great resource. So, you mentioned, I'm going to kind of jump back to the mountain, but about, it was like a long hike. Were you already a hiker? I mean, were you ready to do I'm just curious because I just find it fascinating, 

[00:14:22] Doug McArthur: I wouldn't say I'm like, I'm not climbing mountains every weekend.

[00:14:26] Doug McArthur: Yeah, but I mean, I was a boy scout, got my Eagle Scout, so a lot of hiking, camping growing up. I live in Seattle now. I lived in Portland before. So, a lot of hiking and outdoor activities on the weekends. So, I say I'm a pretty, active outdoors person. But I'm not, I don't have all the, the summits planned on my bucket list.

[00:14:46] Doug McArthur: When, when this came up, I would just like, seems like a once-in-a-lifetime journey. And so, I'd heard about Kilimanjaro before; my aunt and uncle had gone like 10 years ago after they got married. And so, they had talked all about it. They, unfortunately, didn't make it up. My aunt got sick and had some respiratory problems halfway up.

[00:15:04] Doug McArthur: So just kind of like, oh, I want to make sure I can do this. But yeah, it was just an awesome experience that I wanted to do, and it seemed like a really great opportunity just to support Movember and do this with other guys. It was a good, good point in my life to do that. Yeah.

[00:15:20] Joyce Lofstrom: Well, that's great. I just, I'm, like I said, it's, it's fascinating to me, but you also had somewhat of a reference if your aunt and uncle had tried to do it. 

[00:15:28] Doug McArthur: Mm-hmm. So, you know, it's a popular mountain too, I think. Because it's the highest summit in Africa, so I think out of the seven continents, it's probably the easiest one to do.

[00:15:38] Joyce Lofstrom: Oh, okay. All right. 

[00:15:39] Doug McArthur: There's, I think there's like 16,000 people that summit every year or attempt to summit every year. So, it's a popular one. 

And one I think that all ages experiences can do. We had guys on our trip who were not hikers. Some lived in New York City. So, they had a tough time training, but they all did really well.

[00:15:58] Joyce Lofstrom: So, all right. Right. That's great. So, what advice would you give to other young men who find a lump or are worried about it or just try to prevent not paying attention? Any advice? 

[00:16:11] Doug McArthur: Yeah, I mean, I think the recommendation is to check at least like once a month. So, when you're in the shower, just like, feel it out and see what's normal.

[00:16:21] Doug McArthur: And then so you have an idea of what's normal, what's not normal if something comes up. And if you feel something that's not normal, yeah, do a quick Google search, I'm sure everyone will no matter what. Just to have an idea. But try to go talk to a doctor or someone as soon as you can just to give some sort of reference and see if there could be something else.

[00:16:41] Doug McArthur: Because you never know. I have had multiple guys now who have texted me and said they felt something and asked what to do and if it was cancer or not, and I was like, I don't know, but you need to go see a doctor. And so, like some people have done it and it was fine and wasn't, it was just an infection or something.

[00:16:59] Doug McArthur: But my roommate in college a few years after I had cancer texted me and said that he was just diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had found a lump, and it turned out to be cancer too. He went through chemo and is all good now too, but it just shows that for young guys it is very common.

[00:17:16] Doug McArthur: And so, you just never know. So just keep an eye on your body, just understand how it works and what's normal and what's not normal. It's very important. 

Joyce Lofstrom: You know, I've talked to several men whose only symptom was lower back pain. And you know, you could attribute that to many things. You know, whatever, lifted something too heavy or what.

[00:17:37] Doug McArthur: And I think that's something to pay attention to as well if it persists because that is often, you know, one of the other symptoms that come, you know, it appears. So, yes. And like I would say, like I, I didn't have any effects from the cancer. Like I never felt sick or in pain or anything.

[00:17:59] Doug McArthur: It was just the chemo that did that. So, yeah. If there was no physical way to tell that it was cancer, then it could have been a lot longer. 

[00:18:06] Joyce Lofstrom: So, tell us about your career, because I read about that too. So, you're a structural designer. Now, is that an architect, or is it different than an architect? It's close.

[00:18:16] Doug McArthur: So, I got my degree in architectural engineering, which everyone thinks I'm an architect then. But I have to tell my family and friends all the time. I'm not an architect. But I work with them all the time. So, technically I'm a structural designer, but I do structural engineering. Just not allowed to call myself a structural engineer ye because I don't have my license. But yeah, so that's just designing buildings all the inside the structure, so the beams and columns and foundations. And we work with architects every day to design solutions and come up with ideas. 

[00:18:52] Doug McArthur: And before this, I was assessing a building. So, it's an old building here in Seattle and it was built in 1912, They used a lot of brick and masonry that is unreinforced that could fall down an earthquake. So, we're kind of doing some work for the owner just to assess the building. Sometimes it's exciting site work like that. A lot of times, we're in the office doing calculations and working with the models and doing drawings and so it's a pretty, pretty, fun time.

[00:19:17] Doug McArthur: I enjoy it. I've always had a good time with it. 

[00:19:20] Joyce Lofstrom: I think that's one of those careers where, you know, people know about architects and people know about engineers, but you've got both the structural engineer like you said, you don't have your license yet. But it's a job that we have to have that, I mean, you make those buildings come together, but you know, I'm learning, just talking to you. So, I think it's interesting. I mean, seriously, you know. I have friends who are architects and engineers. But anyway, just a compliment on that. 

[00:19:51] Doug McArthur: So, thank you. 

[00:19:52] Joyce Lofstrom: So, what's next for you in life? Anything you want to share, like down the road? Any career goals, personal goals, or any? 

[00:20:01] Doug McArthur: Yeah.

[00:20:01] Doug McArthur: Everyone's asking me what mountain I'm going to climb next. 

[00:20:04] Joyce Lofstrom: There you go. 

[00:20:04] Doug McArthur: Yeah, I don't have an idea on that yet. I would love to climb Mount St. Helens down in southern Washington. That's an easier one I've heard. Mount Rainier would be a cool one too, but that's definitely a lot more technical. You're actually climbing up a glacier with crampons and pickaxes, so, compared to Mount Kilimanjaro, I think it, that one is a little harder. Less elevation obviously but could be hard. So maybe I'll get there someday. 

But I don't have too many big plans right now. I'm just excited to kind of continue my career growth and personal growth here in Seattle. I just moved into my own apartment, the first one on my own a couple of months ago. So just excited to kind of live and really enjoy living in the city and just being a part of that. So, no, no big plans yet. 

[00:20:51] Joyce Lofstrom: Well, you've got, like you said, your first apartment. That's always fun, I think. Just to get going in life. 

So, my last question is, what song, when you hear it, do you just have to sing along to it?

[00:21:03] Doug McArthur: Yeah, I was thinking about this, and I have lots, I'm a big fan of like, The Killers, but also lots of pop music too. And the one that comes to mind is Beyonce's Love on Top.

[00:21:15] Doug McArthur: It's just like a fun song. And in high school, there for some reason, it became a thing, and we would get so into it when it came on. And there are student council activities and everything, so definitely always dance to that one. I'm seeing Beyonce in concert in September, so hopefully fun, hopefully, she'll play it that, but we'll see.

[00:21:33] Joyce Lofstrom: I think those. In-person concerts are so much fun. I went to a lot of them in college and after college it was great. So, I know. 

[00:21:41] Doug McArthur: Yeah. Yeah. I'm excited. Especially since Covid, to get back into, live music and experience that again. 

[00:21:48] Joyce Lofstrom: Well, I appreciate that you took the time to talk to me today and share your story, the mountain story, and your testicular cancer story.

[00:21:56] Joyce Lofstrom: And thanks for all you're doing though too, to raise awareness and money. We need to do that.

[00:22:03] Doug McArthur: You're welcome. Yeah. Glad to be here. Talk about it. 

[00:22:05] Joyce Lofstrom: So, I'll follow you, I guess, on mountain climbing pages and see what happens. So, thank you. 

[00:22:12] Doug McArthur: Yeah. I'll keep you updated. Yeah. 

[00:22:14] Joyce Lofstrom: Okay. Sounds good, Doug.

[00:22:16] Doug McArthur: All right. All right. Thank you, Joyce. 

[00:22:18] Joyce Lofstrom: Thank you all.

[00:22:21] Closing: Thank you for watching this episode of Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer.

[00:22:26] If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe to our program on your favorite podcast directory. You can also visit the Max Mallory Foundation at to listen to previous podcast episodes or donate to the foundation. 

Join us again next time for another episode of Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer. [00:23:00] 

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