Twins diagnosed with testicular cancer 20 days apart
Ryan Collard and his brother Sean were just 23 at the time and are now urging other young men to check themselves.
Twins who were diagnosed with testicular cancer less than three weeks apart have spoken out to raise awareness of their condition.
Ryan and Sean Collard, 24, from Hetton-le-Hole near Sunderland, are non-identical but both were found to have the cancer in September.
Their mother had even asked experts when Ryan was diagnosed whether his brother was more at risk and if he should be checked too, but she was told the chances were “extremely minimal”.
Just 20 days after his twin, Sean was also diagnosed and underwent emergency treatment.
The twins, who grew up fit and healthy, urged other young men to look out for symptoms, which can include lumps in their testicles.
Ryan said: “First and foremost, people need to be aware it is a young person’s disease, you start to think about these things later in life.
“The signs are not always obvious. I’m an example of why you have to think about it.”
Sean added: “No one likes getting their bits out for the checks, but don’t be embarrassed. It could save your life.”
Ryan, a newly-qualified teacher, had been seen by his GP and three hospitals before he was finally diagnosed.
That was after a tumour was found in his stomach, and he was rushed in for chemotherapy.
He is currently undergoing stem cell treatment at a London hospital, supported by his mother Lesley, 51, while Sean stays at the family home in Hetton-le-Hole, 260 miles north.
Ryan collapsed several times last summer and he had a raft of checks including blood tests, with doctors suspecting he may have a neurological condition.
After Ryan’s diagnosis, Sean noticed a swelling and went for a check up and was quickly told he too needed an operation.
Mrs Collard, married to Roy, 55, said: “It was such a horrible time.
“We were with Ryan in London and Sean was back in the North East.
“Sean said to us that he was fine, that he could have an operation and he would be all right, and that Ryan needed us more.
“He was so selfless and he made the decision for us.
“At that point I was distraught, I didn’t know what to do.”
Ryan’s parents moved south to be with him, and he was also supported by his girlfriend Sophie Huggett.
His mother has been told that her sons may have a genetic disposition to develop testicular cancer and those tests will be carried out later.
Once they are both well, the twins want to raise funds to show their gratitude for the care and support they have received.
Well-wishers, led by childhood friend Callum Fletcher, are also raising funds for Ryan, who has been unable to develop his teaching career while he undergoes treatment.
Mrs Collard said the twins also want to highlight the symptoms that men should look out for.
She said: “The age group most at risk seems to be 15-45 and the message is for men to check themselves and if they have any symptoms then they should get it checked out by the GP.”