Comedian Nick Capper on testicular cancer and how comedy helped his recovery


Nick Capper is a cult favourite on the Australian comedy circuit, having toured across the country and cementing himself as a regular in the festival scene. Self-described as Australia’s favourite agricultural comedian, his oddball antics and off-kilter musings make him stand out from the pack, as he blends his country farm upbringing with absurd and surreal comic delivery.

In 2021, Capper lost one of his testicles to cancer after experiencing some unusual sensitivity and pain. Faced with his own mortality during a pandemic and hurtling at full speed toward the age of 40, Nick decided to process his emotions in a level-headed sensible way; by writing a comedy show about losing one of his goolies appropriately titled ‘Hold Me Closer Tiny Cancer’.

Jumping on board as an ambassador for the Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate (ANZUP) Cancer Trials Group, Capper is sharing his cancer journey through a humourous lens, encouraging everyone to get checked and make better life choices when it comes to their health.

ANZUP is a not-for-profit cancer research charity with over 2,000 members from a multi-disciplinary network of medical, surgical, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine, nurses, psychologists, and allied health professionals dedicated to improving patient outcomes for over 33,000 Australians diagnosed with ‘below the belt’ cancers each year, and 4,502 in New Zealand – that’s 90 people every day.

He recently took the time to sit down for an interview to talk all about his journey:

Nick’s cancer journey:

I was 38 and it was around the same time as the second COVID lockdown when I felt a bit of sensitivity in my testicles. I didn’t have a job at the time, so it makes a lot of sense considering I had plenty of spare time to play around down there.

I’m the kind of person that never goes to the doctor but this time I felt the urge to go and get it checked out. I wasn’t too stressed at first, I was riding my bike a lot around that time, so I thought it had something to do with that. A friend has also told me something similar about their bike riding experiences and the pain they encountered from getting used to the lifestyle, so I thought it would be fine.

It wasn’t until the doctor called me back that the reality set in, but it was more precautionary, wanting to do an ultrasound since I was in the right age group for testicular cancer. The results were a bit shocking and that’s when I had my testicle removed.

It’s weird to say but that initial process felt like a bit of an anti-climax… I got the testicle out and I was fine. I felt as if I didn’t even have cancer and that I could just get on with my life.

I went on holiday for a few months to clear my mind and then naturally became really busy with work, so much so that I didn’t even go in for a blood test, which I realise now was very important.

When I was in Adelaide, I felt a cramp just above my penis where they had cut, but despite the pain, I thought it might’ve been because my pants were a little too tight or that my diet wasn’t great.

It strangely felt as if my testicle was growing back, so I finally called my doctor and told him about these agonising cramps. He said that it could be scar tissue but when the pain had gotten to a stage where it was unbearable, I went in for another scan.

They found that the cancer had come back and had spread to my abdomen and lungs. All the pain I was experiencing, everything I was feeling in my stomach, all of that was cancer. I went into four rounds of BEP chemotherapy for the next four months.

Nick’s current status:

I recently got a call to say that they had found nodules on my lungs and that I might have to have them cut out as a precaution. I was on blood thinners at the time due to a clot that had formed during chemo, so my medical team decided to wait and monitor the nodules to see if they continued to shrink in size. They did, and I no longer require surgery (or blood thinners for that matter) as it is probably scar tissue. I continue to have regular blood tests and CT scans every three months.

As you can imagine, I’m really excited. I have no cancer markers in my blood results anymore and I can’t believe it. In saying that, everything that we thought wasn’t going to happen, did happen. Initially, we thought I wouldn’t have to go into chemo, but I did. The second time I saw the doctor, he told me it would only be for three rounds but I ended up having to do four. Then they found those nodules in my lungs and told me I would need surgery to have them removed (which thankfully didn’t eventuate).

Swings and roundabouts.

From diagnosis and treatment to recovery, what were the main takeaways through all of this?

I think the main takeaway is that a lot of things don’t change. You simply just get on with life. After all of that, I’m back to working my factory job.

But on a brighter note, I realised more than ever just how many people care about you and how great they are. Don’t get me wrong, there are some bad people out there and the world can be daunting but you put all of that aside when you’re faced with something that could ultimately kill you.

Everyone digs deep and you really get to see a different side to them.

How did your daily life change?

Chemo was truly awful. I’m quite a resilient person so take it from me when I say it was the worst experience I have ever had. Everyone was amazed at just how much it knocked me down.

Even though I’ve managed to phase most of that out of my memory, every now and then I get a smell or a sensation or I see something on TV that I watched during that period, and all of these horrible emotions and memories come flooding back.

How did comedy help you through such a difficult time?

When I got my testicle out, I didn’t want to make it a big deal and I didn’t want to write any comedy about it. I felt like it wasn’t even worth mentioning as other people have had it a lot worse. I even thought about that at the start of chemo as well.

I didn’t want to talk about it but because I write a lot, it naturally started coming up. I tried writing ten minutes of stand-up about my experience and through that, I remembered so many funny and crazy things that happened.

I sat in the car before an open mic night and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know whether I should do it. I hadn’t told anybody in the comedy scene about it. And then when I went up and did it, it was so much funnier because it’s essentially just you on stage talking about your balls.

Writing about chemo is so much more challenging though because it was such a terrible experience. I go over my diary all the time and it’s so hard to find anything funny about it. And I make a big deal of that in the show.

I was glad I had comedy because it did help me a lot with having a project that I could work on.

What were some of the more eye-opening moments from this time?

After I’d done my last round of chemo, I thought I was better and that I was in a great headspace. I couldn’t wait to see my friends and I thought it would be exciting and that everyone would have news for me since I hadn’t seen them in so long.

We travelled around a bit, I did a few gigs and I thought I was all good. But when I look back at those photos of that time it occurred to me that I was not in a good way, I wasn’t myself at all.

Coming off the back of all that, I think I realised that nothing really changes, life can be really boring.

What is your current involvement with ANZUP?

I think the key message is to not ignore any signs or symptoms. I was really lucky. I had pain in my testicle and it wasn’t even a big pain. My partner was amazed that I had never gone to a doctor voluntarily in 38 years. It had to be something really bad. So, if I had stayed true to form and held off on going to see my doctor, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.

I want everybody to get checked and not to feel ashamed of that either. I’m from a farming background and my dad was the biggest man there was. But you know what? You can still be a man and still go and get checked for cancer. Don’t waste any time. It’s such an easy thing and it’s going to be a whole lot worse if you put it off.

The work that ANZUP has done is nothing short of incredible. The trials and research being conducted are truly amazing and will help people get treated earlier. I really don’t want anyone to go through what I went through.

In hindsight, if I had gone and gotten checked a little earlier maybe it wouldn’t have spread to my lungs and stomach, and maybe I wouldn’t have had to go through chemo. But everything is easier in hindsight.

Finally, what is the main message you are trying to spread?

It’s just one simple check-up that can save a life. Chemotherapy is a horrible procedure. If I can stop anyone, even my worst enemy, from ever going through that, I would.

I felt like an imposter even going into chemo, I thought, well, I’ve just got testicular cancer. That’s the best of the cancers to get. But after a month of it, I was in with the gang, even though I didn’t have it as bad as them.

Get checked and take care of your health.


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Sean Carroll

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