Man in barbershop.
Garret CannImage by: Laszlo Gelsei
Man in barbershop.
4 February 2023

Garret's story: Testicular cancer and balls of steel

4 minutes read time

Ultimate Strongman athlete Garret Cann, 31, from Pontypridd South Wales, has his sights set firmly on winning the ‘Ultimate Strongman - Wales's Strongest Man’ title. Safe to say Garret's journey into Strongman has not been a simple one. The young ex rugby player is here to tell his incredible story of strength and resilience, surviving cancer and how it’s lead him to becoming one of the strongest men in Wales.

I've been training towards Strongman for a long time, competing in my first competition in 2021. Before Strongman, rugby was always my life. I trained and played religiously through school and then into my early 20s. I played in the millennium stadium for my local team Rhydfelin RFC. I left South Wales at the age of 20 and pursued my dream of eventually becoming a professional rugby player. Managing to climb through the ranks I ended up at Old Albanians RFC who competed at the top of National 1 English leagues. Unfortunately, like a lot of rugby players, I sustained a few bad injuries having torn my ACL and PCL with damage to my meniscus.

After another knee injury I decided to move back to South Wales at the age of 25. I spent a few years dipping in and out of playing rugby, but I wasn't committed as my heart wasn't in it anymore. I had more of an interest in the gym and was generally training to get fitter.

At the age of 28, I had a bath and while washing found a lump. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

I would need an operation and possible post treatment to give me the best chance against the disease. Thankfully, the doctors acted quickly due to the signs and possibility that it was spreading to my stomach. Within four weeks of finding the lump and being scanned plus having other tests I then had the operation to remove the mass. After further investigation thankfully there was no cancer found in my stomach and after some further testing and treatment five months post-surgery, I had the news that I was cancer free.

Mentally, this affected me massively and I found it very difficult to talk about or even acknowledge at the time. I pretty much spent my time drinking and eating what I liked, not looking after my health for the fear that it may be taken away from me anyway. After getting the all clear I decided it was time to get back in the gym where with the help of my good friends Mike and Leica Gelsei I managed to get myself back into a routine. I met one of my closest friends Peter who walked up to me one day and said “You’re quite strong, you should do Strongman” we ended up creating a really good friendship and trained together ever since. And so my journey into the Strongman world began!

May of 2021 I competed in my first Strongman show at Yo Yos gym in Pembrokeshire and I won! I really enjoyed it and I've been hooked ever since. My second competition was Ultimate Strongman - Wales's Strongest Man 2021, my first stadium show, and I placed 3rd. This was a massive achievement for me and spurred me to continue with Strongman.

Strongman is so unpredictable, one minute you are leading and the next you've fallen a place behind.

I'm so proud of everything I achieved last year, I've learnt so much and gained some valuable experience.

My goal is to win Ultimate Strongman - Wale's Strongest Man and one day UK's Strongest Man.

Cancer taught me life is so precious and there is no embarrassment in taking control of your health, both mental and physical. As well as creating good friends I could talk to, Strongman became my therapy. To be physically strong means I have to keep mentally strong when the events get tough, something being unwell showed me.

Movember is a hugely important cause, so many guys just ignore health signs or bury their heads because they feel it’s awkward to talk about. Movember brings everyone together and talking which is hugely important. I am here today to tell my story, I am one of the strongest men in Wales, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

If you, or someone you know is facing a testicular cancer diagnosis, check out Nuts and Bolts, which has the tools you need to confidently handle the testicular cancer journey; from diagnosis, to treatment, to life afterwards — we’ve got your back.