Updated: Mar 24, 2018
Impact Magazine, May 2017. Find the original article here.
Photo: Courtesy of Neil Zeller
Two-time cancer survivor Christopher Lloyd says it takes precisely zero balls to make a difference. And he would know, because after losing his testicles to cancer, the 29-year-old continues to fight the disease on behalf of men everywhere.
Lloyd is the founder of Oneball, a charity dedicated to raising awareness, supporting patients and funding research of testicular cancer. In January, he launched a campaign called #FITASBALLS to document his foray into CrossFit training and mark the one year anniversary of being declared cancer-free.
Lloyd is out to dispel the myth that a man without balls can’t put on muscle. Seeing the results of lunges, deadlifts and snatches are all made more difficult because Lloyd can’t produce testosterone on his own, so he uses hormone replacement therapy. By tracking his meals on a fitness app and increasing his protein intake, Lloyd has managed to lose more than 15 pounds of fat since the start of his journey. Building muscle is the next hurdle.
“I kept pushing through because it’s easy to make excuses. Making a difference – no matter what it is – it’s a choice,” he says, “And you have to make it every single day.”
Last year, Oneball raised more than $33,000 and there’s hope to top that number this year. Lloyd balances his work at Oneball with a full-time job at Spartan Controls in Calgary, but he doesn’t let the hectic work schedule bog him down.
“You have to fight against those voices in your head sometimes that say you can’t do something or shouldn’t do something,” says Lloyd. “The body and mind generally want to take the path of least resistance.”
In fact, Lloyd faced considerable resistance on his own path to recovery. The first time cancer attacked, Lloyd was just 18 and he came home from the gym in pain after “canning” himself on an elliptical machine.
He avoided seeking treatment for several weeks, despite a painful and swollen scrotum. “My first reaction was somewhat humorous,” says Lloyd. “I thought, ‘Wow that’s not quite how the movies portrayed it.”
Within 24 hours he was in the operating room and his surgeon removed his left testicle and a tumour about the size of a mini-football. It measured 16 cm x 8 cm.
Almost five years later — a timeline when most cancer patients would be declared cancer free — it struck again while Lloyd was at the University of Alberta. “That was a huge blow. It was almost worse in a sense (than the first time) because it was like a bait and switch. Here’s the finish line – oh wait, it’s not.”
Lloyd decided cancer wasn’t going to stop him. In a four-month span, he was diagnosed, had his right testicle removed and completed his final engineering exams. Lloyd still deals with the stigma of being a survivor: decreased testosterone and masculinity issues that follow the loss of both testicles. It was at a public speaking seminar that his life changed. Lloyd told his story and realized that by sharing his experience he could go from victim to victor. “You can let the story own you, or you can own the story.”