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Should you see Thomas Cantley on your travels to the United States, his appearance might be quite startling. A man, his dog and a giant six-foot inflatable testicle are travelling across the fourth-largest country in the world, and over 4,000 miles, in order to raise global awareness for testicular cancer.
When Mr Cantley, 31, was only 26 when he was diagnosed and subsequently treated for his stage 3 testicular cancer, he not only survived, but he also promised to find a way to ensure that other young men, like himself, wouldn’t be ignorant to this potentially deadly disease.
The giant flesh-coloured ball that he’s travelling with is meant to be provocative and is affectionately nicknamed ‘Lefty’. It invites curiosity and comment – who wouldn’t ask why someone was walking along with a giant ball attached to them?
“I had testicular cancer and it spread to my lymph nodes,” he explains to people who gawp at the sight.
He’s travelling over 4,000 miles across America – through places like Atlanta, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, New York City, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe and Washington D.C. The aim? Thomas wants people to come and find him (he’s not hard to miss!), sign his giant ball and share their ‘ballsy’ battle stories of cancer survival.
Cantley hasn’t planned every single aspect of his trip – he’s taking each day as it comes, something he learnt from having cancer in his life. He says his most satisfying encounters are when he meets teenage boys. He urges them to overcome their squeamishness and embarrassment because it could ultimately save their lives.
“I’m the voice for them. I’m pushing for them. I’m saying break the stigma, and don’t have the superman complex.” he says.
Thomas Cantley has even come up with a catchy slogan for his campaign, urging men to ‘Be Ballsy’ – a motto which has also earned him the nickname ‘Mr Ballsy’ throughout his travels.
“I want to prove you don’t need billions of dollars or the promise of a cure to make a difference in the fight against cancer,” Cantley said, “I also want to prove community is built on compassion and kindness. As I push the ball across the country, I will not have a cent at my disposal. I am relying on the help of strangers I meet along the way.”
“This whole movement could not have been possible without the care and support of the cancer community from all corners of the globe,” he added, “No one goes through cancer alone and I’m constantly astonished by the generosity that surrounds me.”