Nic Jovanovic - MAFS Man on a Mission to Help Others
It’s no surprise that Nic Jovanovic’s life has changed over the past few years. You might recognise the Novocastrian electrician as a participant in Season 6 of Married at First Sight – the Channel Nine ‘social experiment’ that follows the relationships of several just-met, just-married couples. But the filming and aftermath of the reality show isn’t the only thing that’s had an impact on his life of late. Nic, 28, is now a two-time cancer survivor, having first been diagnosed with a form of testicular cancer when he was just 24.
“Pretty full-on” is how he now calmly describes the experience of his initial diagnosis. Back in 2015, realising something wasn’t quite right after experiencing persistent stomach pain, he saw a doctor to get it checked out. By the end of that week, after several scans and tests and the reveal of a mass behind his stomach, Nic was officially diagnosed with a form of testicular cancer.
Treatment required chemotherapy and surgery. It was a tough road, but ultimately a successful one, leaving Nic cancer-free upon completion. “You think being that young and having dealt with it once, surely that’s it,” he told Nine Honey earlier this year. But unfortunately, a few years later, the difficult journey would continue.
At the end of 2018, while in the midst of filming for Married at First Sight, Nic discovered another testicular lump, and a second diagnosis of cancer was confirmed. After MAFS filming had concluded, he had further surgery in late January this year, followed by more chemotherapy. And thankfully, he’s now in remission, returning for six-monthly check-ups to ensure the cancer has not returned. Strangely enough, Nic was later told by his specialist that the stomach pain that led to his initial diagnosis had actually been unrelated to the testicular cancer. It had been a case of extremely fortunate timing – but after his second fight with the disease, Nic is now on a mission to warn other men that they shouldn’t leave anything up to luck.
According to the Cancer Council, in Australia, testicular cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men aged 18–39. And while the survival rate for most men is very high, there is still a 1 in 20 chance of losing one’s life to the disease once it is diagnosed. It’s this statistic that Nic is working to help change by speaking out about his experience and teaming up with initiatives like the recent Movember campaign for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. It’s all about raising awareness of the disease and its warning signs, and promoting the need for guys to check themselves – and get checked out. “I’m trying to promote healthy living, and for blokes to go and get checked and just be vigilant with their health,” Nic says. “Just encouraging guys to have a feel, and [see] if there’s any weird lumps or bumps, any aches or pains, a change in shape or texture – anything that’s not normal, or anything that’s out of the ordinary for a bloke. Don’t hesitate; don’t put it off and go, ‘She’ll be right’. It might be alright, but it also might not be alright, so you don’t want to take that risk.”
Nic’s life and outlook have obviously been changed by his cancer experience, but it’s also been affected, of course, by his experience on Married At First Sight. So now that he’s back to full health, how has he adjusted to life post-MAFS? “As soon as the show finished, I think I had an extra week off to readjust back home and catch up with family and friends, then went straight back to work, straight back to everything,” he explains. “I think the best thing was just to readjust and get back to normality as quickly as possible, and that’s what I did.”
No matter how grounded he’s remained, Nic says it’s still a surreal experience when people approach him around town as if they already know him. “I didn’t realise how invested people were in the show,” he admits. “It’s massive, and you don’t realise until during or after when everyone knows you and everyone knows your business and everyone has an opinion on everything you do. It makes it hard when you think you’re doing the right thing, but you don’t know, and then you question yourself. But you’ve got to do what you think is right. That’s what I did on the show, and I think I came out alright.”
Nic’s primary aim has been to use the platform the show has given him for good – raising cancer awareness as well as participating in other charity and community events. You might have spotted him at a recent Jets game, where he helped out with the half-time show, and you might also catch him later this year at the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic, a charity golf event raising money for diabetes research and junior golf in NSW.
He’s quick to express his gratitude for the opportunities the show has afforded him, and for the fact that the Newcastle community has welcomed him back with open arms. “It’s been great, and I’m really thankful that everywhere I go, everyone’s been extremely wonderful – really kind and really supportive,” he says. “Everyone in Newcastle’s been amazing.”