Hogg talks about his cancer scare in 2018 and why you can never check too often.

November is an important time of year for young men around the world, with many taking on the challenge to grow a moustache for Movember.

Movember is a charity that aims to tackle men’s health issues, in particular mental health issues, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer. Each year, men around the world try their best to grow a moustache to support the movement. The movement is one that is close to first team player Matt Hogg. When we spoke to Matt, 10 days into November, he was already sporting an impressive ‘tash.

Matt has been a feature of multiple Scotland Rugby League teams, playing for the U19s, U23s, Students, and Senior Team (as well as coaching the U16s) since he made the switch from Rugby Union. In 2018, Matt had his busiest year in a Scotland Jersey, representing his nation at the Commonwealth Nines in Brisbane, the Student Four Nations, before picking up his first senior cap for the men’s team.

Matt went toe to toe with future NRL stars and international athletes, however before he made his debut for the senior side, Matt was given a serious health scare.

After the Student Four Nations I was checking my testicles for any lumps, which every young guy should be doing, and I actually found one. At first I knew in my head that it wasn’t right, so I thought I might as well go to the doctors and check up. They didn’t know what it was, so I was referred to the hospital, where I was told I had testicular cancer. Which was pretty horrific to hear.

We went through all of the stages like checking if the cancer had spread and they had to remove my testicle to get rid of the lump. Fortunately for me, the lump was benign, so I didn’t actually have testicular cancer, which meant fortunately I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy and things like that. It was a life changing event that really gave me a perspective on things, and what’s important in life, and how you should live your life.

Since then I’ve always taken part in Movember, which is all about men’s health and mental health, which is hugely important. Since then every year with my uni rugby league team we’ve been trying to grow our best moustaches.”

Matt has recently graduated from Newcastle University, where he balanced his studies whilst playing international rugby league. After his surgery, Matt showed immense drive to get himself into the senior team.

I had surgery to remove the testicle in September, and the first question I asked was whether I would be able to play rugby in 6-8 weeks, because I knew the Scotland camp was coming up, and I knew I had a chance of being involved. I got back and could just about train. I was a bit limited in terms of gym and contact, but my first sprint was the first week of camp. I was ruled out for the first two weeks.

The third week I was fortunate enough to make my debut against France in the European Championships, which was about 8 weeks after surgery, which was a pretty big moment for me and my family.

The event has significantly changed Matt’s outlook and perspective, and he has offered the following advice to young men:

It’s overlooked by men. Testicular cancer, and really any form of cancer, can happen to anyone. Fortunately, I didn’t have it, but I’ve got that perspective of what the experience is like to be told you have got it. While it’s horrific, you need to know if you’ve got it. Check yourself, and feel for any lumps. If there’s anything unusual get yourself to the doctor, the quicker you can get it sorted the better chance you have.

It’s not really that daunting going to see the doctor, they’ve seen it all before and know what they’re doing,, and they’re just there to help you. It’s really important to check yourself, if there’s anything wrong go straight to the doctor.

You can support Matt and his University teammates in their Movember challenge here.