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Rock band member chooses IU Health for testicular cancer treatment

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Rock band member chooses IU Health for testicular cancer treatment

Minnesota native Ryan Keyes came to Indianapolis to play drums in a rock band. Now, he’s happy to live in a city that is home to one of the top cancer treatment centers.

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

He was in middle school when Ryan Keyes picked up a set of drumsticks and played his first riff. By high school he was touring with bands playing familiar rock tunes and epic jams.

“My older brother got a drum set for his birthday and when he left for college, I took over. I listened to CDs and learned drums by playing along,” said Keyes. In addition to his brother, he has two younger sisters. His siblings, along with his parents remain in Keyes’ native state, Minnesota.

Three years ago, Keyes moved to Indiana to join the band “Hero Jr.” The group is described as performing somewhere between “the best of Nirvana and the simplicity of early Black Sabbath, and 70s British rock.” It’s a career that has taken Keyes on tours throughout the United States playing 650 shows.

But when he’s home, he’s settled into a Fountain Square neighborhood – less than five miles from IU Health Simon Cancer Center.

“I feel like the stars aligned. I moved to Indianapolis, started health insurance, we finished recording our record and here I am, living this close to one of the best cancer hospitals in the country,” said Keyes. He added that he never thought at the age of 28 he would consider himself “lucky” to be living close to a cancer hospital.

But in September he ended up in the emergency room at IU Health Methodist Hospital. After suffering for weeks with an enlarged and painful testicle Keyes went to urgent care and the doctor told him he should go directly to ER. Scans followed and Keyes was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

In the care of Dr. Timothy Masterson he had a radical inguinal orchiectomy to remove the cancerous testicle. Tests showed the cancer had spread to his back and lungs. Under the care of IU Health hematologist/oncologist Dr. Nasser Hanna he started a nine-week cycle of chemotherapy.

In the United States an estimated 9,610 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year. Many men have traveled from throughout the United States and from around the world to be treated at IU Health. Doctors are known for the successful treatment of testicular cancer using a mix of high dose chemotherapies and peripheral stem cell transplant.

“All things considered, I’ve been lucky to be in Indianapolis where I can get the best treatment,” said Keyes. “My mom, brother, and sisters have come for surgery and treatments, I have great friends who have supported me, and I am grateful for the great doctors.”

With November being Men’s Health Awareness Month, Keyes has a message for other men: “Check yourself. I had pain and noticed a change for about a year or more and I put it off,” said Keyes. “If I could change anything I wouldn’t have ignored it. I would have gone to the doctor earlier.”

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