Movember Know Thy Nuts
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Movember Know Thy Nuts
Ian's homemade sling
26 April 2021

Ian's story: Finding out I have testicular cancer

4 minutes read time

Being Told You Have a Tumour

"It’s funny, beforehand when I’ve ever thought about it before, or spoke to someone else with an experience of cancer, I imagined what my reaction might be if I was told I had a tumour. You would think that it would feel like the world is caving in on you. I certainly imagined that to be the case.

It wasn’t like that for me. Perhaps it had something to do with the man I was talking to. The urologist was very matter of fact and straight talking. He wasn’t blunt or cold, but he didn’t talk with sympathy either, or sugar coat anything. He said it how it is and looking back I really appreciated that. It made me hold myself in a similar conduct and allowed me to take everything he said as it came to me.

" Behind a face mask there is only your eyes to focus on when someone is talking to you. I put most of my efforts and attention during that 10 minute conversation into trying not to well up. "

With that being said, I didn’t take in very much. The only way I can describe how I felt was stunned. I didn’t feel like the world was ending, I just felt jarred. There was a brief moment where I didn’t take a word in at all. The specialist was talking but the room was silently spinning around my head. It was completely surreal. Behind a face mask there is only your eyes to focus on when someone is talking to you. I put most of my efforts and attention during that 10 minute conversation into trying not to well up."

My Diagnosis

"From my ultrasound scan and his examination, the specialist is 80-90% sure I have a testicular tumour at this point. I had thousands of questions but they all clogged up in what was now my very busy and panicking mind. The first question I had was – does a tumour mean cancer? It’s the first question I could get out my mouth.

He tells me it is not always the case, but in his professional opinion it is more than likely. He tells me I will need to do a blood test and have a chest x-ray immediately, and that I will need to have surgery to remove the testicle, hopefully within the week.

My head falls off and rolls out the door. Excuse me? Remove my testicle? Within the week!? The specialist explains that the blood test can show if I have cancer related chemicals in my blood, known as markers. This may provide a more conclusive answer as to whether the tumour is cancerous. The x-ray will show if anything has spread to the lungs or collarbone area, because this is where testicular cancer usually spreads next, weirdly enough!

However, the only way to truly tell if it is cancer, and what stage the cancer is at, is to remove the tumour and examine it. It isn’t possible to remove just a part of the tumour, so the whole testicle must come out. So your ball must be removed before it can be truly diagnosed. Divine irony!

We spent the last part of the consultation talking about relevant charities and sources of information I can access. He could tell I wasn’t taking much in and was probably used to that. He offered to call me in a couple days’ time to repeat what he has said and talk about my blood test results. The advice was to talk to my family and friends and let it sink in, which was decent advice. We finished up and I was directed to go for my blood test."

One of the Worst Days of My Life

"The worst part about this day was going for that blood test and x-ray. Both departments are in opposite ends of the hospital, meaning I had to walk for 5 minutes or so between each building. I was on my own. I had just been told I had cancer. Tears were making the top of my face mask wet and I had not a clue where I was going. I was completely and utterly shell-shocked.

I can’t explain how I felt walking around outside, looking at the same scenery I walked through before entering the hospital, but having a totally different experience of it. On the inside I’m screaming but on the outside I’m trying to keep it together, because there’s lots of other people around, many of whom look more ill than I do. When I eventually found the bloods department I slumped down onto a chair in the waiting room and stared blankly at a wall.

I felt incredibly lonely but at the same time wanted to be somewhere else by myself. I felt small. Well and truly crestfallen. The wind was taken out of my sails and was being blown back in my face. I didn’t feel or hear the wind, it was deadly silent, but the force of it well and truly sat me down.

I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy. I waited 15 minutes to be called, but it felt like I had days’ worth of thoughts running through my head."

The Doom and Gloom Doesn’t Last

"Everyone is different and will deal with their own medical issues differently. The first hour was the worst part for me, but I can’t speak for everyone. Since finding out, talking to my friends and family has made me accept the situation and be more positive about it."

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