January 27, 2015 11:57 pm

Teammates work together to tackle cancer

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LETHBRIDGE – Dylan Tait couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Hours after finding a lump he still attempted to play goal for the University of Lethbridge men’s hockey team. But his game ended early, after allowing three goals in just over a period, he was pulled.

“That definitely wasn’t the best game I ever played,” said Tait. “Definitely it (the lump) was on my mind.”

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Tait was right to worry. The lump turned out to be a fairly aggressive form of testicular cancer. He underwent surgery, but more was needed to fight the disease. He’s now into his fourth of nine weeks of chemotherapy.

He’s coping well with the sessions, “I feel a little off-centered would be a good way to put it, or a little out of my equilibrium,” but is able to maintain his upbeat personality.

That’s partly because he acted so quickly once he thought something was wrong. If caught and treated early testicular cancer is nearly always treatable. And Tait’s prognosis is strong because he did just that.

“If I hadn’t not only found mine at the stage it was at but also got checked out right away, things probably wouldn’t be looking as good as they do right now,” he said.

Testicular cancer is one of the most common types of the disease to strike males between 20 and 34 years of age. After an emotional meeting with his teammates he implored them to check themselves. Which led to a shocking discovery when the Pronghorns athletic therapist, Brennan Mahon, was also diagnosed with testicular cancer.

“I decided, like many of our players now have, to go get myself checked out,” said Mahon. “It’s the responsible thing to do, and I’m glad that I did.”

Mahon underwent surgery and is back at work with the Pronghorns. His test results are strong and it isn’t expected he’ll need chemotherapy. He is thankful he has someone like Tait to talk to while going through the process. “Having Dylan go through it, and go through it before me, has made it much easier. I’m always able to ask him questions.”

It’s a unique bond the two have forged, working through their trials together.

“You can make fun of him for having cancer and he can make fun right back to you,” said Tait. “It’s not the coolest thing to joke about but if you can look at it in a semi-positive light, I think that’s better than looking at it negatively.”

Their teammates have supported the pair from the start and on Friday, January 30 will host a fundraiser in conjunction with their game against the University of British Columbia. Team members will shave their heads to show support and raise awareness about early detection. There will also be an auction to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Tait says all the support from his teammates, right from the start, has been overwhelming. “The guys I had told before were awesome, they helped me get through it. And, we did.”

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