Matt Ferster, Founder/President, Single Jingles A Testicular Cancer Foundation
On January, 23 2009, at age 21, Matt Ferstler was diagnosed with testicular cancer. As part of Matt’s treatment, his left testicle was removed, leaving him with just one and thus, as he puts it, a “Single Jingle.” The thought of losing a testicle can be unbearable for some men, but it beats the alternative. Matt chose to be empowered by his new “configuration” rather than defeated by it. During the recovery process, Matt realized how little he knew about testicular cancer, especially before he was diagnosed. He became extremely motivated to heighten others’ awareness of testicular cancer prevention. He wanted all men to become well informed. Just nine months after being diagnosed, Matt founded Single Jingles A Testicular Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Today, Matt lives with his wife Melody in Austin, Texas, home to the Foundation.
BSM: Matt, thanks for sharing your story of cancer survivorship with CancerForward. You’re doing great work educating young men about testicular cancer. We’re convinced Single Jingles’ MAN UP: Check ‘Em campaign is going to positively affect millions. I know the Foundation keeps you very busy. And, congrats on your recent marriage. To start off, give us an update on your health.
MF: I’m a three+ year survivor and feel better than ever! In addition to having my physical health, I’m excited to wake up every day and be a part of this amazing community of survivors as well as an organization that is saving lives!
BSM: What was the most difficult facet of living with your cancer?
MF: The uncertainty of it all was the darkest part. I was 22 years old when I was diagnosed and I had the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath me. That left me with so many questions. “What is cancer?” “Will I live?” “Will I have kids?” “What’s the pain like?” Those were exhausting emotions to deal with while all of my friends were having fun at college. It’s a heavy weight, for sure. And the unknown of it all was absolutely draining.
BSM: Why did you start Single Jingles and how did you get it off the ground?
MF: When I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, I honestly didn’t know anything about the disease. Isn’t that crazy? Testicular cancer is the #1 cancer in men ages 15 -35 and I didn’t really know anything about it! So, I guess it just seemed logical to be part of the movement to change that. I wanted to spread the message to anyone and everyone that this is such a curable cancer if young men knew how to do a simple, self-examination and catch it early. So I started the organization—Single Jingles a Testicular Cancer Foundation —in October 2009 while I was still going through my own cancer journey. It was, in many ways, very cathartic. The name “Single Jingles” is meant to catch people’s attention, put a brief smile on their face, and make this disease a lot more approachable—especially to our target audience: young men. I lost my left testicle to this disease. That’s a small price when so many guys have sadly lost their lives. So I guess you could call me a founding “single jingle” in many ways! Candidly, you can call me anything you’d like. As long as you help me spread the message to young men around the world.
BSM: Tell us a little about the Foundation’s mission and programs.
MF: Single Jingles provides education and support to young adult men, in the effort to raise awareness about testicular cancer. Our mission is very simple and to the point. We want to make sure that all young adult men know about the disease and know how detect it early.
Single Jingles Foundation provides testicular cancer education materials in the form of shower cards, brochures, website, and even and iPhone/iPad app.
Additionally, I personally spend a significant amount of my time helping families, speaking, and spreading the mission of Single Jingles to the medical and healthcare communities as well as schools and anywhere you find groups of young men.
BSM: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of Single Jingles?
MF: Beth, I know you know this from firsthand experience. Building a non-profit organization from scratch is both exhilarating and very challenging. I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in three short years. Staying true to our mission, Single Jingles has helped numerous men and families dealing with a diagnosis of testicular cancer. We’ve also reached out to literally thousands of men to educate them about self-exams and early detection. I know we are saving lives…and at the end of it all, there is no greater accomplishment, right?
I’m also proud that our organization is evolving into a new level with an incredible board of directors ready to join and support our efforts. This comes at a time when we are also expanding our team of leadership to even further our mission.
But if you are curious about our greatest accomplishment, I hope you’ll follow our cause. We have so many terrific plans. We’re committed to staying true to our mission. The best will come when all testicular cancers are caught at stage one. And Single Jingles will not rest until that is a reality.
BSM: Where would you like to see the Foundation in five years?
MF: I am very excited about the path that Single Jingles is on at this moment. Our five year goal is to:
- Be a part of education in high schools and colleges
- Have continued education available for all pediatric physicians
- Lower the national death rate by 50%
BSM: What have you learned from your journey with cancer?
MF: I’ve learned how important it is to set you mind on something and not to look back. You can’t change the past. But you have the moment you are in. And for me, I’ve learned to find ways to make a difference in the moment. Rather than worrying about what would happen if a door closed, I get excited about the new door that’s opening before my very eyes. That’s how I live life.
BSM: To cancer survivors, what do you hope you stand for today and what do you hope your legacy will be?
MF: As cancer survivors, we all have a unique experience and journey. For me, my journey has given me the roadmap for living the balance of my life. I embrace the adversities I’ve been given because they have helped me live a richer, deeper life. They also have given me sense of obligation. An obligation to help others and be a leading voice in compassion and change.
And for me, I hope that’s the legacy I give back to this amazing cancer community.
Category: Survivors in the News
Tags: Beth Sanders Moore, cancer survivors, CancerForward Survivor in The News, Man Up: Check ‘Em, Matt Ferstler, self-examination, Single Jingles a Testicular Cancer Foundation, young men