Mo Bro Zach Rohne poses in the barberchair from a local barbershop in Denver
Mo Bro Zach RohneImage by: Keena Photo
Mo Bro Zach Rohne poses in the barberchair from a local barbershop in Denver
29 March 2023

Zach’s story: Having an open book policy when it comes to men’s health

Zach Rohne
5 minutes read time

I didn’t really get involved in Movember until April of 2015, when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I’m pretty open and transparent with my friends in terms of this particular piece of my health and life. I think it's important to share, because I really had no idea to look out for this at all until it happened to me.


I was out at a formal fundraiser for one of my friend’s brothers. I’m wearing a suit and everything – all dressed up – and the whole evening, no matter how I was standing or sitting, I just couldn’t get to a position that was totally comfortable. When we get back home that night, I’m getting ready for bed, and that’s when I checked everything for the first time and I felt that one of my testicles was hard as a rock.


My wife was in bed, but I stayed up and was feeling concerned immediately. Something just didn’t feel right. So, I take the logical (or illogical) step of Googling, and within a few seconds I’m seeing the word “testicular cancer”. I went to bed that night, more of less with the mindset that what Google said was a real possibility.


I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know what the process was or what the next steps would be. I didn’t even know anybody in my life that had had testicular cancer before. I’d never been exposed to the idea that I should be checking myself. It just had never come up in any way when I was growing up. I felt like I was in the prime years of my health. I thought I was invincible. I had no clue.


The next morning was a Sunday. I woke up and played a round of golf with 3 friends that morning (where they naturally chirped me all round for my complaints of not being able to get comfortable; all in good friendly competition and fun though 😊). I went to urgent care on my way home from that round of golf where they ultimately told me there wasn’t much they could do to help and that I needed to go see my primary care doctor. So, I call my doctor back and tell them. They say “We’ll see you at 8AM tomorrow.” Them wanting to see me right away was jarring. After seeing the doctor, they booked me for an ultrasound that afternoon, and a urologist appointment first thing the next morning – they squeezed me in. It was all very quick and very urgent. It felt like the writing was on the wall – at least in my mind.


The urologist went over the results and basically told me they were 99% sure I had testicular cancer, and the only way to know for sure was to take it out and biopsy it. “We’ll see you tomorrow morning for surgery,” they said. It was a total whirlwind going from waking up that Saturday morning – with nothing wrong, to surgery on Wednesday.


Thankfully, I went to the doctor right away. Even though there wasn’t a lump or a bump, I still felt like something wasn’t right, something wasn’t normal. Had my Google search not been so concerning, I don’t know that I would have necessarily called my doctor right away, but I’ve always operated thinking that doctors are the professionals, I’m not, so what’s the harm in going in?


I’m kind of an open book and an open person, so I tend to probably overshare more than under share with my friends. Even that Saturday night in the suit, I was texting with my friends. I kept them updated to the point where I found out I had cancer, and was having surgery the next morning. One of the guys even came to the hospital and sat with my wife during surgery. He was there when I was done and in recovery, he helped me get dressed, go to the bathroom, all that stuff. My family, from over 1,000 miles away, made sure I felt loved and supported from the start, and continued when I started fundraising for Movember as well. I had the support from all of them from the start, and then at a certain point it turned more towards me saying to them, “Hey, you guys need to be checking yourselves when you’re taking a shower.”


In the first 2 years after my diagnosis, when the word had kind of gotten around that I was promoting Movember, and I had put my story out there, people started reaching out to me. I found out some friends from college had gone through a testicular cancer diagnosis at virtually the same time as me, people reaching out saying they were in the shower and felt something weird and asking what they should do. I said to them, “What’s the harm in going to the doctor? Go. Get it checked out.” That was my response. Every single time. I hope to raise awareness so that people know that this can be a possibility, and that usually you can catch it pretty early, and that if you do, it’s really not the end of the world. It’s not going to totally change your life in a negative way.


I dive into the awareness side of things as much as I can. I’ve always liked being a part of a team. It’s what I live for. It’s what I strive for. My Movember team is called the One Ball Wonders. That’s always my team name – for softball, for hockey, football, all my fantasy leagues. I hope even that can help to raise awareness.


No one on our Movember team looks good with a moustache, which is my favorite part. Because then people ask us about why we look so creepy with our moustaches. But that’s the whole point – it gets that conversation going and gives us the opportunity to help spread awareness. Just being able to have the conversations, or the fact that people feel comfortable to come to me – I feel super lucky and honored and happy to share with people anything they want to know. The good, the bad, the weird, the ugly. I’m an open book.

Support Zach and his Team's mission to change the face of men's health. Connect with Zach on Instagram.