Thrive by IU Health

Patient grateful for his small-town influence

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Patient grateful for his small-town influence

Thomas Cain is a patient of Dr. Nasser Hanna and came to IU Health for its reputation of treating young men with testicular cancer.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

There were the coaches, parents, grandparents, and family friends – they’ve all played a role in Thomas Cain’s upbringing. A life-long resident of Alexandria, Ind. Cain says that the Madison County community of a little more than 6,000 residents has served him well.

That has been especially true since he received a diagnosis of testicular cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates about 9,470 new cases of testicular cancer in the United States this year; about one in every 250 males will develop testicular cancer in their lifetime. The average of diagnosis is 33. It is typically a disease of young and middle-aged men.

Cain is 27. He thinks his symptoms started six years ago.

“I had concerns and went to the doctor and was told it was probably a cyst,” said Cain. In January 2020 the back pain grew worse and his right testicle was larger than normal. Then the pandemic hit.

“I didn’t want to go to the hospital during COVID but it got so bad I finally went to ER,” said Cain. He works at Red Gold Tomatoes in nearby Elwood. He went to a hospital in Kokomo on his first day off after a 12-day shift. An ultra sound was ordered and he left thinking it would be at least 48 hours before he’d hear results. In less than an hour Cain got the call telling him to return to the hospital.

“I have a family history of cancer. My grandfather had a brain tumor, my great grandfather had esophagus cancer; my dad and grandma both have skin cancer, so I just thought it was my time,” said Cain.

In the weeks that followed he underwent surgery to remove the tumor in his right testicle. He became a patient of IU Health’s Dr. Nasser Hanna and began three cycles of chemotherapy. A year after his diagnosis, Cain’s scans were clear. In July, new scans showed more cancerous lymph nodes. He has returned to IU Health Simon Cancer Center to again begin chemotherapy.

A 2012 graduate of Alexandria High School Cain said he is thankful for the support of his community. In high school he participated in football and track, served as a video manager for the basketball teams and was part of the tech team for theater.

After high school, his small town connections resulted in work at his bus driver’s farm and also the farm of a family friend.

“I’ve had some great mentors with my coaches and family members,” said Cain. “One farm I learned to excavate and work bull dozers and back hoes.” He also treasures memories with his grandfathers.

“My one grandpa taught me wood working. We made a bird house the size of a small condo. He used to take me hunting in the woods with bows and arrows made out of sticks,” said Cain. “My other grandpa has always been the voice of reason. That grandfatherly advice along with my solid small town roots is helping me through this hurdle.”

Related Services