Former UND captain Gage Ausmus diagnosed with cancer, shares message for others
Ausmus had one surgery in January and has another scheduled for March. He says, 'If you feel something, just go in. You don't want it to get worse.'
GRAND FORKS — Five days before Christmas, former UND hockey captain Gage Ausmus accidentally bumped his testicle and noticed something felt different.
"It felt like there was a hard marble inside," Ausmus said. "I kind of waited a couple of days to see if it went away. Then, I started looking things up online."
It wasn't painful. There were no side effects to it. Ausmus could have just kept going about his life as normal.
But he didn't.
Ausmus, 27, decided to go to the hospital and get it checked out.
After a series of appointments and tests — an ultrasound, X-ray, bloodwork, CT scan and ultimately, surgery — Ausmus learned in mid-January he had two types of testicular cancer, yolk sac and embryonal carcinoma.
The good news: Doctors learned the cancer had not spread. Ausmus caught it early.
"The doctors said, 'Thank God you came in,'" Ausmus said. "Guys tend to just let it sit there. If I wouldn't have gone in, it would have spread, and then it becomes a lot harder to contain and cure."
While Ausmus' cancer has been removed, he's not totally in the clear yet.
He said there's a 20 to 30 percent chance it comes back if he does nothing else.
Ausmus has opted to have another surgery in March to remove lymph nodes, which he said will drop the probability of cancer returning to less than 5 percent.
Now, the former East Grand Forks Senior High and UND student is using his podcast, The Has-Beens, to encourage men to go to the doctor early if they notice something is off.
"I did go in early," Ausmus said. "I mentioned on the Has-Beens Podcast what happened. I found it. I went in. Guys, feel your nuts, and if you feel something, just go in. You don't want to let it get worse. Us guys tend to let it get worse."
Ausmus, who co-founded the Twin Cities-based moving company Minne Movers in 2019, recently moved back to Grand Forks to open a second location.
Minne Movers opened in the Grand Cities in December.
Ausmus said the company handles residential and commercial moves. They also re-arrange furniture in peoples' homes.
"Sometimes, people will get floors re-done," Ausmus said, "and we'll move the furniture into the garage and move it back when they're done."
He's launched the new business while taking care of his health.
Ausmus, who played for UND from 2013-17 and captained the 2016 NCAA title team, said there were unsettling days while he waited to hear whether the cancer had spread. But knowing he caught it early has put him at ease.
"Now, I'm not worried about it anymore," Ausmus said. "It's not taking up a ton of my mind. I'm not in the dark anymore. I did go in early."