SWAN Districts’ only victory so far this season will be forever marked in the memory of young ruckman Jake Nuich.
As he shared in the joy of a narrow win over Claremont at Bassendean Oval that Sunday in April, his thoughts turned to the secret he had carried into the game.
Just the day before he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer.
The 23-year-old, who returns to reserves football for Swans this weekend, saw a urologist on the Monday and had his left testicle removed the following day.
“That game was the last time I played,” he said.
“I went to the specialist and was told I had to have an operation.
“I was operated on within the week; it all went pretty quickly.”
His return to football coincides with the WAFL’s men’s health round.
And Nuich, the son of table grape growers in West Swan, is an advertisement for early diagnosis and treatment after a GP sent him for a CT scan.
“I noticed a lump,” he said. “But it was probably eight weeks before I went to a doctor; it had got a bit sorer.”
The fourth-year apprentice electrician had visited an after-hours GP at St John of God Subiaco Hospital without telling his family.
The first they heard of it was when Nuich was at training and the doctor rang his home to pass on the scan results.
“After we found out I went with Jake to the urologist who had come in from her holidays to see him,” mum Jenny Nuich said.
“She said she would have to remove his testicle not knowing until it goes under the microscope if it was benign or malignant.
“He opted for removal and as there were no cancer markers found in his organs… once the result came through as positive to cancer he only needed one dose of chemo as a precaution.”
Mrs Nuich wanted to join with the late young West Ham player Dylan Tombides’ Perth family in making people aware of the prevalence of the disease and the importance of early diagnosis.
“Jake’s a lucky boy,” she said.
“After reading up on Dylan who was told his lump was benign I realise how very fortunate our family is… and that we had medical staff who seemed to do everything so quickly for us.”
Nuich, who has been back training for three weeks ahead of the Peel game in Mandurah this Saturday, is also grateful to the doctors who looked after him.
And thankful to his friends, supportive family – mum, dad Peter and older sisters Ashleigh and Gabrielle – and the Black and Whites.
“The Swans footy club has been amazing,” he said.
His family has also been able to “look at the lighter side of things” with him over the past couple of months.
That included joking about waiting on him hand and foot and following his journey, which included visiting a sperm bank before the operation.
“I had to go to a sperm bank,” he said.
“It’s all frozen and put away now.
“But they reckon in a couple of years, I’ll be right anyway… the chemo can initially affect the quality of the sperm.”
During treatment he attended Swans games but stayed away from training because “I knew I’d be keen to get out there”.
Conscious of Swans “not tasting too much success this year”, Nuich is hoping the boys can add to their solitary victory over the next couple of months.
“It was a pretty good feeling that win over Claremont,” he said.
HARDING WELCOMES NUICH BACK
Swan Districts coach Greg Harding has welcomed young ruckman-forward Jake Nuich back for his first game for the club since overcoming a testicular cancer scare.
“We are all stoked for a young man who is much loved within the playing group,” Harding said in his club blog.
“After some serious surgery and a bout of chemotherapy, Jake has recovered quicker than usual and has completed three weeks of really strong training.
“He will step out at reserves level this week and it won’t be long until we see him out at league level I’m sure.”
Nuich said “the boys all welcomed me back” when he returned to training.
The last time the 17-gamer played senior football was in Swans’ single win so far this season – by a goal against Claremont – on April 10.
He waited until after that game and an appointment with a urologist to visit Harding with the news of his testicular cancer.
“He then told all the boys,” Nuich said.
Nuich is in his fourth year as an apprentice electrician and during summer helps his father Peter pick seedless table grapes on the family property in West Swan.
He played junior football for Upper Swan before representing La Salle College and Swan Athletic.
NUICH ON HAWTHORN’S JARRYD ROUGHHEAD AND HIS FIGHT WITH MELANOMA:
“I feel for him. I wouldn’t wish it (cancer) on your worst enemy let alone someone you look up to.”