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Faces of Hope

Stories featuring Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center patients' strength and courage as they battled and conquered cancer.
Faces of Hope - Brian Niedzwiecki

Brian Niedzwiecki

Testicular Cancer Survivor

Brian Niedzwiecki has a message for young adults battling cancer: “It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be anxious. It’s OK to be depressed. What you cannot do is let those emotions control your life.”

Brian struggled with unexplained health issues for months in 2017. He’d visit the doctor but get no solid answers. Then he performed a self-exam and found a hard spot on his testicle. Doctors finally identified the problem: stage 2 testicular cancer.

Brian had surgery to remove the testicle and underwent chemotherapy at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center. He was cancer-free but a different man.

Before cancer, he had run a marathon, completed an Ironman Triathlon and hiked the Grand Canyon. He was a certified strength and conditioning coach, but the chemo zapped his energy and strength. The experience also was an emotional roller coaster.

Brian began working with a psychologist at Nebraska Cancer Specialists to combat his depression. He’s also used several Harper’s Hope services: a dietitian, a behavioral health counselor and a young adult support group. The group called Snap and Chat, is a visual diaries group specifically for young adults with cancer that uses personal photos as a starting point for conversation. Participants also work on mindfulness exercises and learn coping skills such as meditation, breathing and showing gratitude.

“This was my first opportunity to meet someone who has been through it, and they’re at a similar point of life as me,” he said. “I still talk to a lot of those people in that group.”

Brian still has doubts and fears – but he also has ambition. He wants to learn to write music and get back into cycling. Perhaps most important is that he’s forming deeper relationships.

The same advice he gives to others is what drives him:

“Whatever’s important to you, go chase it.”