Turning Grief into Action: A Father Talks about the Need for Greater Testicular Cancer Awareness

Published on April 12, 2012

Updated on March 29, 2018

Brad Coleman

Brad Coleman

Brad Coleman was a healthy and active 17 year-old boy who enjoyed fishing, hunting and riding ATVs in his native western Tennessee. In October 2008 he began complaining of severe headaches that were initially attributed to a family history of migraines. By the end of December, Brad’s headaches grew more severe and he was taken to the emergency room in nearby Camden, TN. There it was discovered that he had blood in his stool and his blood counts were very low. Brad was immediately rushed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville. A mass was discovered in his lower left abdomen and tests revealed that Brad had a bleeding ulcer. He was taken into surgery to repair the ulcer and control the bleeding. After this operation more tests were done to investigate the mass. Numerous scans and tests later, it was discovered that Brad had lesions in his liver, lungs and two in his brain that had not been there in the original scan in October.

Brad was diagnosed with testicular germ cell cancer on January 1, 2009. The cancer had metastasized to his lymph nodes, liver, lungs, and brain. John Coleman, Brad’s father, described his reaction when first hearing the diagnosis. “We had no idea. Total shock. Brad had never mentioned anything was wrong.”

Brad began the fight of his life with the love and support of his family and friends. He endured several rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Harvesting stems cells from Brad’s body required traveling back and forth from Brad’s home in Holladay, TN to Vanderbilt in Nashville every day for a month.  He had the transplant on January 18, 2010 and was in the hospital for six weeks. After some initial improvement, his condition began to worsen. Brad underwent surgery to remove the mass in his lower abdomen and participated in a clinical trial at MD Anderson Cancer Center, only to lose his battle against the disease on June 20, 2010.

Coleman family

The Coleman family (L-R): Brad’s father John, Brad, Brad’s mother Sheila, and Brad’s brothers Brian and Bobby

The devastating loss of his youngest son to testicular cancer spurred John and his family into action. They created the Brad Coleman Cancer Foundation with a mission to bring greater awareness to the disease and to share the facts about early detection that could save lives. John found that the biggest obstacle to fighting testicular cancer is silence. “No one talked about it. Schools didn’t have anything about it,” Coleman said.

To raise awareness about testicular cancer, the Foundation began testicular cancer awareness programs in 20 school systems throughout western Tennessee. The Brad Coleman Cancer Foundation offers testicular cancer awareness DVDs and other educational tools free of charge to school systems across the country to raise awareness to those most a risk. “Early detection is the key. If just one person is helped then all our efforts will be well worth it,” said Coleman.


Thank you so much for doing the article. We have to get the word about testicular cancer. Early detection can make the difference between life and death We have to raise awareness. I only wish that testicular was talked about as much as Breast Cancer the response to raise awareness to breast has been overwhelming. We need to do the same thing. This is why we founded The Brad Coleman Cancer Foundation to reach as many boys and young adults as possible. our foundation also provides funding to families that have children with cancer. We provide founding for travel and lodging expenses as they seek treatment for their child. We know first hand the financial burden it places on families trying to get their child well


John, Thank you for sharing your story with us and for the all work that the Brad Coleman Cancer Foundation does.


I admire what you are doing and wish that something like this had been in place to help your son. My husband is a testicular cancer survivor. We are both nurses, but by the time he was diagnosed he had mets. We are 9 years out now and know how blessed we are.
While returning to college I took advantage of the young audience and spoke out about testicular cancer. Young men in that age group tend to feel invincible. However, I found that many of them carried my message with them. During my time at the university, I was often greeted with my own words. Doing my research, I was disheartened to find very little information aimed at teaching young men about testicular cancer. I am so glad to know that you are doing that and more.
I am interested in learning more about the Brad Coleman Foundation. It sounds like you are doing many wonderful things.


Thank you for your kind words send me your e-mail address and I will send you all the information you would like to have. We have to get the word out about early detection. It’s never talked about. We have to change that it seems to be a bigger problem in rural America. We have already placed our educational program in 20 schools here in West Tennessee and have presented it to 95 more last week I wish we could place it in every school in America


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