Raising Awareness about Testicular Cancer
The Walks Foundation raises awareness and provides support for boys, men, and families in the fight against testicular cancer in the Southeast Missouri community.
Promoting Education & Early Detection
Because Testicular Cancer is most prominent in men ages 15-45, The Walks Foundation strives to promote the importance of monthly self-exams for early detection.
Providing Financial Support to Local Families
We know first-hand how damaging the fight against cancer is. That’s why we aim to provide much-needed financial support to local families.
Founded by Survivors. Supported by Fighters.
At The Walks Foundation, we believe the fight against testicular cancer is bigger than one or two people, but we wouldn’t be doing our story any justice without sharing our founder’s story.
Nate and Kristen Gautier (pronounced gah-tier) are no strangers to testicular cancer. When Nate first found a pea-sized bump on one of his testicles, he did what most men might do—he hoped it would just go away. Sadly, that’s not how cancer works.
After two weeks, the bump began to grow, and Nate began to panic Crying at work, Nate called Kristen, the calm to his storm. He asked K, as she’s lovingly called by family and friends, and asked her to get him an appointment. This was in 2018 when there was a healthcare crisis, and getting in to see a doc could take a while. Nate had to wait about a month and a half to see a doctor, and by then, the lump had grown significantly, becoming two times larger than the testicle itself.
After the initial exam, the doctor played it cool and recommended Nate get some imaging to see what was happening later that same day. “Any time there’s something on our privates, we need to get pictures,” the doctor told him. So, Nate went and had the imaging done, and he could tell by the radiologist’s reaction that something wasn’t right.
At the time, Nate was a regional manager and broker at an insurance agency and was training for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. The day after the imaging, he received a call from his doctor, who frantically told Nate that he needed to have the lump examined by a specialist as soon as possible, but they couldn’t get him in until the following week.
The way the doctor was talking, quick and studdering, scared Nate, but the doctor encouraged him to go ahead and run his race and then come in the following Monday.
Nate ran the marathon and went to see the specialist on Monday, who recommended emergency surgery for the following day.
Again, Nate did what many men might do—he wanted to avoid the problem. “Doc, that really doesn’t work for me. I’ve got some stuff going on at work—how about two weeks,” he told the doctor, but the doctor, with a white, ghost-like face, replied, “Nate, you don’t want to wait on this.”
So, Nate and K reluctantly scheduled the surgery and returned the next day. That’s where Nate’s battle against Testicular cancer began, but as we know, the road to recovery is a long one.
The Road to Recovery
On December 4, 2018, Nate underwent emergency surgery to remove his testicle, which was then sent off for a biopsy. Just one week later, Nate received the news: Embryonal Carcinoma, one of the more rare and aggressive forms of testicular cancer. “If it were an animal, it would be one of the meaner ones,” Nate likes to share for context.
Due to the aggressive nature of the cancer, the oncologist said that it would require some treatment beyond the removal of the tumor.
“Great! Of course, I have the bad one,” Nate thought to himself. This was at Christmas time in 2018, and he wasn’t accepting his new reality. “It’s just not me. It can’t be me. I’m in the best shape of my life,” he kept telling himself.
Then the news of the treatment came. Twenty cycles of chemo, which will cause total hair loss and likely short-term disability from work. After a lot of panic, denial, and hesitancy, he decided to proceed with treatment.
Soon thereafter, he received his chemo port and started Chemotherapy on his 29th birthday. It immediately began taking its toll. After the first week of chemotherapy, Nate recalls that, “It wrecked me far worse than I could have ever imagined.”
Cancer Free, But the Fight Continues
From here, we’ll skip ahead. Chemo was something you could hardly imagine; Nate had to let go of his ego and let his wife bathe and take care of him. It was a brutal time in Nate and Kristen’s life.
After about 7-8 months, Nate became cancer free in August of 2019. The impact this had on Nate’s life, and the lives of his family and friends, can not be overstated.
With a heart to give back, Nate raised some money for families in need and donated it to the hospital, and that’s where the idea for The Walks Foundation began.
Today, we host the annual LemonDrop Long Drive, a long-drive golf tournament designed to raise TC awareness as well as funds for local families in need.
We also ship ChemoPaks to patients starting chemotherapy, an area of the foundation we look to grow in 2023 and beyond, and we’re forming outreach programs so that we may share Nate’s stories with teenage boys. Our hope is to raise awareness and promote early detection, which is a huge factor in surviving cancer.
While incredibly scary, we hope that Nate’s story has inspired you to get involved. Whether it’s telling the men in your life to check their balls (it’s okay; this could save a life), or to volunteer with our foundation, we look forward to having you on our team.