Sportscaster advocates for testicular cancer awareness
CityNews 680 sportscaster Alex Seixeiro is a household name among radio listeners in Ontario and beyond who tune into his broadcasts for the latest on their favourite teams and athletes. Thousands of these fans also follow Seixeiro’s sports-related social media posts on Twitter.
But late last summer, Seixeiro’s radio broadcasts and Twitter account suddenly went silent, staying that way for the rest of 2022 and most of January 2023. What few people knew, beyond his immediate family and a few coworkers, was that the Burlington man had been blindsided by a testicular cancer diagnosis and was undergoing surgery in Oakville, with follow-up care and chemotherapy at Hamilton Health Sciences Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC).
“I never in a million years thought this would happen to me.”
“It was a curve ball thrown out of nowhere,” says Seixeiro, 39, who was well enough to return to work on Jan. 30. That day he also posted on Twitter, sharing his diagnosis and cancer journey through a series of tweets.
Tweeting his cancer journey:
In Seixeiro’s Twitter thread, which has 1.2 million views, he writes about his diagnosis and treatment, and encourages his followers to make an appointment with their health-care provider if they suspect a health issue. The thread has received hundreds of comments from well-wishers across North America including fans, sportscasters and other media personalities.
“Dear Alex, your honesty will save lives and your energy is contagious. I look foward to working together again! Stay strong.” — Canadian broadcast journalist Lisa LaFlamme, with 164,000 Twitter followers.
Another notable media personality to reach out was @NightShiftMD Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC White Coat, Black Art and The Dose, whose Twitter account has nearly 100,000 followers.
Elliotte Friedman, hockey insider and reporter at Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada with 764,000 Twitter followers, wrote: “We missed you around here, Alex. Looking forward to your return.”
James Duthie, NHL/CFL/golf host and reporter at TSN, shared with his 869,000 followers: “Great to hear you are doing well Alex. All the best.”
And Kristian Jack, vice president of media and content at the Canadian Premier League and host at OneSoccer, posted, “Special man. Pleasure to call him a friend. We’ve been talking soccer for 18 years (where did the time go) — have never been prouder of him. An important thread that can help save lives.”
When in doubt, check it out
Testicular cancer is the most common form of solid tumour cancers involving young men, says HHS oncologist Dr. Sebastien Hotte, Seixeiro’s cancer specialist. Thankfully, it’s also one of the most curable cancers, even when it has spread.
“As scary as it is to receive a testicular cancer diagnosis, it’s fortunately very uncommon for men to die from this disease even when it’s advanced,” says Hotte, adding that treatment typically involves surgery to remove the diseased testicle. This surgery rarely affects fertility and almost never affects potency, says Hotte.
But even when found early, the cancer can return to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes or other organs. Through active surveillance – a treatment plan that involves closely monitoring a patient’s condition – testicular cancer is almost always curable even when it reoccurs.
“By adopting active surveillance, we’re able to avoid chemotherapy for men that won’t have a recurrence of their cancer and only treat patients with chemotherapy who really need it,” says Hotte.
To help catch signs of testicular cancer as early as possible, Hotte encourages men to check their testicles monthly for any changes.
Signs include a lump on the testicle that may be painless. Signs can also include a painful or swollen testicle, a feeling of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum, persistent or worsening backache, or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, especially on the left side.
Anyone experiencing signs should book an appointment with their health-care provider.
Signs of trouble
In early 2022, Seixeiro started to experience sporadic pain in the testicle area that would come and go. As the year went on, the pain became worse, even waking him up at night. “Then it would go away for a week or so, and I would push it to the back of my mind until the next wave,” says Seixeiro. “I should have visited the hospital emergency department right away, but because it came and went I didn’t take that step.”
Then last August he was woken up by pain so intense, he went to his local emergency department. “I thought it might be an infection and I would get a prescription to clear it up.” Instead, he was given an ultrasound and told there was a tumour. He was referred to a urologist in Oakville and that’s when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“It was the last thing I expected to hear,” says the married father of two young daughters, whose busy home and work life were suddenly upended. His twitter thread continued:
Rolling with the punches
“The time between my diagnosis and surgery was really quick,” says Seixeiro, who underwent surgery at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital to have the tumour removed. A CT scan showed no evidence of the cancer spreading, and he was referred to JHCC for follow-up care with Hotte. “It was a relief. I thought that this health scare was behind me.”
But additional tests at JHCC found that the cancer had spread to his abdomen and chemotherapy would be needed to treat the disease.
“It was a shock to hear, and a tough nine weeks of chemotherapy treatment, but I also felt lucky because my cancer was considered extremely curable,” says Seixeiro, who continues to see Hotte for ongoing surveillance and follow-up care. He thanked his HHS health-care team in his thread, as well as his family and CityNews 680 colleagues.
Meanwhile, Seixeiro continues to use his platform as a media personality to get the word out. “I especially want to reach young men who think they’re immune from a cancer diagnosis because I was that person. I never in a million years thought this would happen to me.”