Let's talk testicles: Comedian has a ball with frank teen talk
With a show titled My Left Nut, Montreal-bred comedian Dan Schneiderman doesn't leave much off the table when he talks frankly about his battle with testicular cancer.
"We think we're invincible right? Cancer — that's something that happens to old people. Or dogs," Schneiderman, 31, says during a one-man show that chronicles how he learned he had cancer and recovered from it.
Schneiderman has brought the show to Newfoundland this week for a series of performances for high school students. Testicular cancer is the most widely diagnosed cancer among teenage boys and young men.
Schneiderman, who now lives in Toronto, uses broad comedy and plain language to convey a serious message. At times, the show is outrageous — including a scene in which his mother accompanies him to the sperm bank, where he stores a semen sample in case his treatment leaves him infertile.
"What could I do? I just had to say, 'Mom, could you wait here? I have to go masturbate for a second,' " Schneiderman said.
In another scene, he describes how a physician told him a prosthetic testicle could be ordered to replace the one about to be surgically removed.
"[I was told], 'Now, we need to know right away, so we could order it, and I was like, Buh-buh-buh' — what do you say to that?" Schneiderman said. "Do they come in brass?"
Sponsored by youth-focused group
Schneiderman's tour is sponsored by Young Adult Cancer Canada, a St. John's-based group that has launched an awareness campaign called Touch Yourself, Trust Yourself. It encourages girls and young women to examine their breasts and boys and young men to examine their testicles for lumps or other inconsistencies.
Schneiderman said he noticed a lump on his right testicle when he was 27. (The play's title refers to his surviving testicle, to which, he reveals in the show, he gave the name Elliott.)
"In the shower one day, [I] felt a lump that was something I'd never felt before. It was a hard, little lump," Schneiderman said.
"Luckily, I had the sense to say, 'I better call the doctor and just be safe and check it out.' And I'm glad I did and that I didn't wait," said Schneiderman, who is now cancer-free.
About 500 new cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed in Canada every year. In some cases, it is deadly, although survival rates are high when the disease is caught early.
Michael Gardner, 15, who saw Schneiderman's performance at Holy Spirit High School in Conception Bay South on Tuesday, said the play's message was effective.
"The truth is anyone can get it, any time," he said.
"Everyone should start doing this self-examination thing. I will definitely start doing it."