Shane Kenny
Shane KennyImage by: Shane Kenny
Shane Kenny
2 February 2021

Shane’s story: being diagnosed with testicular cancer during a global pandemic

Mo Bro
Shane Kenny
3 minutes read time

“I knowingly ignored red flags of pain and symptoms which went on for months and months. Not until I felt an actual lump did I decide to take action. Before then, I mostly felt aches and pains in my lower back and upper thigh. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Testicular Cancer in August 2020.

Because I waited, the cancer has spread from the tumour, into my lymph nodes through my abdomen and into my lungs. Looking back, I allowed my pride and ignorance to take over just because I was avoiding awkward and uncomfortable conversations. You think that if you ignore the problem, it will just go away. Well, it doesn’t.

I was also not aware that cancer runs in my family. I never realised how important it is to have knowledge of your family's medical history. Not until I was diagnosed did I ask my parents about this. Apparently, cancer has run through my family for multiple generations. No one talks about this, because it’s not a nice conversation to have, but it’s important to be aware.

Mentally I struggled throughout, especially with COVID and the restrictions of hospital visits. I was not allowed any visitors and was actually on my own when the doctor told me I had been diagnosed. I had just undergone surgery to remove my tumour and was woken up from recovery with the news of my cancer. I don’t really remember what they said since I was so drugged up from the anaesthesia and I had to have my friends explain it on the ride home. Also, because of COVID, I was only allowed to have someone with me on the first chemotherapy session. After that, I had to endure this all on my own.

" I was not allowed any visitors and was actually on my own when the doctor told me I had been diagnosed. "

The chemo is draining in every way imaginable: physical, mental, emotional and financially. Physically I piled on a lot of weight due to the steroids and the lack of energy to stay active. The loss of hair was not only a physical impact but hugely mental and was my reality check. This happened early on and was when I actually realised the severity of what was happening. Once I started losing my hair all I wanted to do was stay in my room.

I've only come to the realisation now that before my diagnosis I've been suffering with bad anxiety for a while. Throwing cancer into the frame, I nearly had a mental breakdown. I felt with all my previous anxiety, my hair falling out, the added stress of COVID and everything about the year 2020, nothing was in control.

My business partner, my friends, and my local community have played a huge role in me getting through this treatment. Organising lifts in and out of the hospital, keeping my parents in the loop since they don’t live near me, meals were always taken care of, and just simple text messages and phone calls to check in. I couldn't have done it without all the support I was given.

I want to encourage other men to talk more and put health at the top of the list. Men honestly need to talk and express more. Being an Irish man, we tend to bottle up emotions a lot. Health is always in the back of the mind, but we never take action. It’s all about work, work, work and finances but one day that can be taken away from you. Money comes and goes; your health is your wealth.”

For information and support on testicular cancer, click here.