I was in my late twenties when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I’m not someone who goes to the doctor very often. I was back in the UK, and had noticed a bump on my testicles for some time now, but I didn’t want to talk about it or confront it. It was my wife who encouraged me to go see my doctor, but it took three separate visits before I finally talked about it. On the third time, I was nearly out the door when I took a step back and told him the original reason why I had come to visit.
After he examined me, he booked an ultrasound for 10 AM the next day. I remember the ultrasound tech saying to me that I probably should’ve come a bit sooner.
Waiting in the ultrasound room, I was approached by a surgeon and a councillor. They told me I had testicular cancer, and booked me in for a surgery on Monday. They moved things along so quickly. Doctor on Thursday, ultrasound Friday, then surgery. I didn’t even have time to really think or process it all. After the surgery, I went through three rounds of chemotherapy and moved to Canada.
In a new country, it felt like a fresh start. I was in remission for a year, but after a 12-month scan, I was told it had come back. There were a few options for me: another surgery, more intense chemotherapy, or radiotherapy. After a consensus between my UK and Canadian teams, I went back to the UK for 2 months of radiotherapy.
While I’ve been free of testicular cancer now, I was later diagnosed with bladder cancer, not common for someone young, or a non-smoker, but likely a result of the radiotherapy.
Now cancer free, I think about first finding the lump and waiting so long to see a doctor. As men, we just don’t talk about it. In my circle of friends, we hang out, but we never chat about our health. The one thing that really came out of it, and which Movember is really great for doing, is to talk about the tough things. Put your ego aside, and take care of yourself. Don’t be ashamed, don’t be afraid. There is always someone to talk to.