Former Tipperary hurler James Barry has opened up on his recent experience with testicular cancer, warning anyone who notices a lump, however small, to act swiftly and get it checked.
In an exclusive interview with the Tipperary Supporters Club, the two-time All-Ireland winner explains that he noticed a small lump on his testicle six weeks ago.
🗣️"Whatever way I put my hand down to feel, I felt this small little lump"@TipperaryGAA's two-time All-Ireland SHC medallist @jamesbarry90 has been speaking about his recent testicular cancer diagnosis— Tipperary Supporters Club (@TippSupporters) May 13, 2021
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“How it was found was lucky enough. Whatever way I bumped it in the kitchen, the testicle area was sore enough. And later on that night it was still sorer than normal.
“I’ve got a few belts in that area before but nothing too serious.
“And I felt a small lump, the lump was maybe only the size of a peanut. But it was enough cause for concern to get it looked further into.”
Barry quickly got in contact with his GP.
“My head didn’t go to thinking I had a tumour or cancer. I thought I had maybe damaged that part of the body or caused a strain.
“I had it looked at fairly quickly. Two days later I was into my local GP in Thurles. His first thought was I’m pretty sure it’s a tumour so we’ll try and get you to Limerick fairly quickly.
“To be told that news, I didn’t really know how to take it. Your head goes into overdrive. Obviously, I knew Noel (McGrath) had it, and I’ve known a few other people with stories over the years. I never really knew much about it.”
Barry’s Tipperary teammate Noel McGrath underwent surgery in 2015 having been diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 24.
“The first person I rang was Noel,” Barry says. “I didn’t know what type of questions to ask. Noel was a huge help. He was massive for me.
“It was a wait of about a week. It was a long time for me to be in my own head.”
An ultrasound confirmed the mass on his testicle and an operation was arranged in the University Hospital Limerick.
“The operation was done on the 11th of April. Limerick hospital were magnificent. The doctors and consultants were fantastic. I went in on a Wednesday morning and came out the following Tuesday, between doing different scans and ultrasounds. The operation was on the Sunday.”
Barry had his testicle removed.
“The operation was to take the whole thing out. You’re safe that way. The doctor came in and said we’re happy the cancer hasn’t spread, you’re clear to go home.
“I got emotional at that stage. I’ve had loads of injuries over the years and operations. I hadn’t really put that C word on it. On all the chats I’ve had, I didn’t really want to. I hadn’t really gone that far in my head.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Barry talks about life after inter-county hurling and how he drew on the psychological tools he gained as an elite hurler when processing the news.
And he made a direct plea to anyone who has a similar experience.
“With these types of cancers, the earlier you catch it the better. My lump was very small. For anyone listening to this, it is important no matter what size of a lump you find to get it checked out.”