Interview 126

Testicular cancer (seminoma) diagnosed in 1994; orchidectomy. No evidence of secondary tumours, but 15 treatments with radiotherapy to prevent recurrence.

He was 29 and working abroad, coming home occasionally, and found a lump in his testicle when he was showering. He put it out of his mind, but a short while afterwards he read an article in a magazine about a journalist who had discovered a lump and visited his GP. When he got back to the UK he thought that he should go and see his GP, but put it off. It was only when he started to get a stitch pain’ in his side that he went to see his GP, but felt embarrassed in doing so. His GP examined him and referred him to see a consultant. He was surprised when he was given an appointment for a few days later, and this urgency worried him. After his hospital appointment he had to go back a few days later for an ultrasound scan. He found the waiting in between these appointments concerning, and waiting for his ultrasound in a waiting room of pregnant women embarrassing. Up until this point he had only told his parents about the lump he had found. The ultrasound confirmed that he had testicular cancer (seminoma). He was told the diagnosis and what treatment he would receive in a cubicle, and was concerned that people could overhear his consultation. He was told that his testicle needed to be removed, but since this was shortly before Christmas he had to wait a few days for the surgery. He felt he was not given enough information about his diagnosis or treatment at that stage and his mind ran riot.’ His GP was helpful in explaining things to him more, but he says that he was shocked and experienced all sorts of emotions, and found it difficult to take all the information in.

After the surgery to remove his testicle he felt uncomfortable but not in pain, and was off work for two weeks, by which time he had told his work colleagues. The possibility of a prosthetic testicle was mentioned as a future option but quickly passed over. He feels that the consultant was flippant’ when he enquired about his future fertility, and in fact suggested that his existing fertility may already have been affected. A couple of weeks after his surgery he had a CT scan which showed that the cancer had not spread, and was transferred to the oncology department to start radiotherapy. He found the consultant there explained the treatment to him in depth and put his mind at ease by answering a lot of questions he had. He had fourteen sessions of radiotherapy, and was told that he could continue working. He found, however, that he felt very unwell after the treatment (headaches, fatigue and vomiting). His GP signed him off of work and prescribed anti-sickness medication, but he still felt unwell and disorientated.’ A couple of days after his treatment finished for the week he would feel well again.

When his course of radiotherapy finished he had check-up appointments every month; then every 2-3 months; and now once every year. At the time of interview it is six years since he finished treatment, and he will have check-ups for a further four years. A year after his surgery he asked about the possibility of having a prosthetic testicle but felt that the consultant discouraged this. He feels that he should have been offered this at the same time as his testicle was removed, and would have accepted then; he has now decided not to have a further operation as he is unable take time off of work for this.

He joined a support group after he had completed his treatment because a work colleague was attending and encouraged him to go along. He wanted to raise awareness, but also found the group therapeutic. He found it a great source of support to share fears and concerns with other men in the group. When he was diagnosed he had felt isolated and afraid that he was going to die, but the group made him realise that he was not alone in having those feelings. He found his care within the NHS to be very good, but felt a little as if he was a product’ being treated and discharged, and would have valued a counsellor or nurse to talk to.

He advises men that a good time to check their testicles is after a bath or shower, and that any hard or raised lumps should be investigated by a GP. He was surprised when he was refused car insurance once after declaring his cancer, so did not tell the next company he applied to as he felt it had no impact on his ability to drive. He tried acupuncture but felt that this did not work for him. However the practitioner did suggest that he consider his diet. He experienced recurrent indigestion, and found that burnt’ flavours and artificial flavourings upset him. He now eats boiled food rather than fried, but tries reintroducing foods to see how he reacts. He is pleased that having a testicle removed and radiotherapy have had no impact on his ability to have sex.

As he moved further down the line from having had testicular cancer his appointments became…

Age at interview 36

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 29