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After beating testicular cancer, Yoren is ready to virtually conquer New York Marathon

Power of visualisation helps during low points

30 October 2020 - 08:58 By sipokazi fokazi
Yoren Chetty of Johannesburg is training for the virtual New York marathon after he beat testicular cancer.
Yoren Chetty of Johannesburg is training for the virtual New York marathon after he beat testicular cancer.
Image: supplied

“Cancel your plans for 2020!” These are the words that Johannesburg financial planner Yoren Chetty will remember forever.

This instruction had nothing to do with the year being associated with Covid-19 disruptions — his doctor had just diagnosed him with testicular cancer.

He had to get used to the idea that he was about to go through surgery and gruelling chemotherapy after his diagnosis on February 19.

But eight months later Chetty, who turns 40 in November, has not only beaten cancer but on Saturday (November 1) he will be participating in the virtual New York City Marathon and will run 42.2km in the streets of Johannesburg on behalf of Movember.

Movember, which is synonymous with the growing of moustaches during the month of November, is an international awareness campaign which raises men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide, among others.

As a Mo Bro for the campaign, Chetty is hoping to raise about R60,000 through the run, and proceeds will go towards funding survivorship and research programmes for prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health programmes.

“I got through the lowest points between chemotherapy rounds by using the power of visualisation. When I couldn’t walk or the pain was unbearable, I would close my eyes and imagine myself running down 5th Avenue in Manhattan, competing in the race,” he said.  

Coincidentally, Chetty was just starting a new venture in Shanghai, China, when the news of the coronavirus started making headlines. One night in October 2019 he felt pain and swelling and discovered a lump, after which a visit to the doctor and a scan revealed a tumour. He was scheduled to return to SA a week before China implemented its lockdown.

He considers himself lucky that he got a flight, and underwent surgery in SA in February to remove the tumour. A further scan revealed that there were enlarged lymph nodes in his kidney area, and chemotherapy was recommended.  

“I received chemotherapy during the height of the nationwide lockdown level 5. Though I was fearful of contracting Covid-19 given that my immunity was compromised, I was cautious and adhered to the regulations, such as social distancing and no visits from friends and family.” 

This added another layer of complexity to the already stressful situation of dealing with cancer, one that could have been very lonely and challenging for his mental health. He overcame this by training himself to not let adversity get him down, adopting a positive mindset and refusing to give in to negativity.  

“I was in isolation with my parents and did not see anyone other than my oncologist and the nursing staff. I did not even have my camera on during Zoom calls with friends, family and colleagues. I also chose to surround myself with things that gave me strength and made a conscious effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones,” he said.

He added that the power of mental resilience was important not only during the pandemic, “but for any man battling prostate cancer, testicular cancer or any other health issue”.  

“Cancer can be beaten. Early detection saved my life, and it can save so many more men’s lives. I acted on a symptom. Men should listen more to their bodies and if anything feels unusual, get it checked out,” said Chetty.  

Today he sees himself not as a victim, but as a survivor of cancer, and is encouraging every man to get tested.  

“We have a long way to go until no man dies of cancer. Our sons, partners, fathers, brothers and friends are facing these challenges and we need your help,” says Garron Gsell, CEO and founder of the Men’s Foundation, which manages the Movember campaign in SA on behalf of the global Movember Foundation.  

For more information about the Movember campaign, visit za.movember.com.