Boldness may have saved Jalyn Radford-Wecks’ life. And he’s determined to keep on being bold in hopes of saving the lives of other young men.
In early July, Jalyn, 17, of Enterprise discovered a painful lump on one of his testicles. He had learned about testicular cancer in health class at school, and he knew he needed to tell someone about it.
“He texted me at work, July 5, and asked if I could come by his work,” said his mother Vixen Radford-Wecks. “That’s not normal for a teenager.”
Jalyn told his mother what the problem was and asked her to make him an appointment with a doctor.
“I thought, he really didn’t say what I just heard,” said Vixen. But he had said it. She made an appointment immediately.
By July 12
The biopsy came back July 12. It was cancer. It wasn’t the more common and highly treatable testicular seminoma cancer, it was a rarer more aggressive embryonal cancer — a germ cell cancer.
One-fifth to two-thirds of young men who are diagnosed find the cancer has metastasized.
Back-to-back appointments began.
By July 19, Jalyn was in the hospital with grandad Monte Radford and dad Jeffery Wecks at his side when he went in for surgery to remove his left testicle.
A few weeks of recovery later, he was back at OHSU to hear his treatment options going forward. Although testing had shown cancer cells in the spermatic duct, doctors were not saying the cancer had metastasized. However, recent bloodwork results gave cause for concern.
According to the American Cancer Society, radiation therapy can cause an increased risk of getting a second cancer (outside of the testicle) later in life, so full radiation therapy was not an option high on the list for the Radford-Wecks family, though Jalyn now carries two small “radioactive rocks” in his pocket as a part of treatment.
Another option was chemotherapy, which, according to The American Cancer Society is generally used when the cancer has spread outside the testicle. The treatment is brutal. Chemo drugs attack cells that are dividing quickly and can affect bone marrow (where new blood cells are made), the lining of the mouth and intestines, and the hair follicles, all of which also divide quickly. If Jalyn chose to undergo chemotherapy, he wouldn’t get to attend school his senior year, play basketball or go hunting.
He’d already had missed most of his summer job at Enterprise Electric; he wasn’t able to take part in an important rural rite of passage — showing and selling his pig at the fair; and he’d faced the fact that he wouldn’t get to join the U.S. Marines out of high school.
“I’m already telling my teachers I’m not going to school the week of buck season,” Jalyn said. “Senior year, I’m going out all buck season.”
So, when OHSU presented the option of “sitting and watching, if your family can take it,” a new plan began to formulate.
They would “sit and watch” while vigorously pursuing alternative treatment.
Jalyn has consulted a nutritionist familiar with cancer.
It also turns out the Radford-Wecks family had some experience with another alternative treatment — a light frequency treatment known as Rife Frequency Therapy.
Six years ago, Vixen had seen a best friend die of breast cancer despite intense traditional treatment. That friend had strongly believed that if she had found Rife Frequency Therapy when first diagnosed she would have been cured.
Back then, Vixen was skeptical, but her friend believed it might still help, and it only cost $5,000 for the light therapy machine. So, Vixen and other friends put together a benefit horse show in Newberg to raise enough money to purchase portable light treatment equipment.
By the time the equipment was purchased, it was too late for her friend, so the equipment was donated to Seahorse Cove of Lafeyette, Ore., the nearest Rife Frequency Therapy center.
Jalyn has begun thia treatment as well.
“It’s kind of like radar,” he said.
Although the initial result of the alternative treatment has been a return of energy more in keeping with a teenage boy’s disposition, the situation remains in flux and treatment decisions may change, Vixen said. Jalyn continues his appointments with OHSU where his doctors are closely monitoring his health.
Jalyn continues to learn more and more about testicular cancer and boldly shares his knowledge.
His friends first learned of his illness when he came out of surgery and began Snapchatting his friends with the news.
They were astounded at first but did not hesitate to respond.
Several benefits to raise money for his treatment have been held.
Enterprise FFA began a beef raffle; his good friend Maddie McDowell of Enterprise donated the price of her county fair sheep; Ian Goodrich of Joseph also donated one-half the price of his county fair goat; the Wallowa County Fair Board let Jalyn sell his county fair pig (to Les Schwab for $12.25 per pound) after friends Ella and Beth Anderson of Enterprise showed it for him at the fair and family friend Sarah Hammond of Bend will be running a silent auction benefit Sept. 18-21 on Facebook.
More fundraisers are in the works.
Jalyn’s experience has touched and motivated many. His family receives calls weekly from people who have experienced testicular cancer in the family. Others are curious about the alternative therapy and want to follow Jalyn’s progress.
Jalyn’s dad, Jeffery Wecks, hopes to address the lack of cancer education for young men, and get people talking as freely about testicular cancer as they do about breast cancer.
Wecks’ passionate response has resulted in plans for a cancer awareness fundraiser at the next Mountain High Broncs and Bulls event to raise money for cancer checks other than for breast cancer.
If there’s anything good about his experience, Jalyn said, it is that male friends have told him they have since checked themselves for testicular cancer, something they’d never done before.
There’s no doubt in his mind that more education and more bold conversation is needed.
“If I ever have a boy, a son, it might be good for him to know so he can watch for it,” said Jalyn.