HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As a high school athlete at Kamehameha Schools, Baba Merino excelled in baseball.
He was the son of a longtime lifeguard, and he knew one day he’d be one too.
Merino calls it a “dream job.”
"You're at the beach. You're in the sun. You're getting tan. You're surfing, training, doing everything you want to in the water," he said.
Merino is a fitness buff, a former power lifter and CrossFit competitor.
But life hit a roadblock.
"Two years ago is when I first noticed it," he said.
But he ignored the small lump on one of his testicles, even when it kept growing.
Two months ago, his body rebelled.
"I started coughing up blood, then the headaches," he said. "About a month ago my body started shutting down. I was bleeding internally. I was anemic for about a week."
At his wife’s urging, he finally went to the doctor.
"I had to be a little mean about it, say things that were hurtful maybe sometimes," Lovey Paiva Merino said.
Her husband was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer, and it had spread to his lungs and his brain.
"My doctor said I would have died if I waited another week," Merino said.
Doctors say testicular cancer can be cured if it’s found early. Merino wishes he acted sooner.
"In my gut I knew something was wrong but I didn't listen to it, and look at me now, two years later," he said.
The couple's message to men is to not ignore the warning signs of testicular cancer.
If you feel a lump, see your doctor.
“Do not put it off!” Lovey Paiva Merino said. “My husband wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in now if he went to check two years ago.”
Merino needs two more rounds of aggressive chemotherapy. He faces a long road to recovery.
His goal is to get back into the lifeguard tower.
"To be better than what I was, that's the goal," he said.
The Merinos are grateful for the help and support they’ve received from family and friends, and many people are rallying to help them meet their mounting medical bills.
To help them out, click here.