Interview 144

Testicular cancer diagnosed in 1996; orchidectomy. No evidence of secondary tumours, but three cycles of chemotherapy (each cycle 2-3 days of treatment with a week in between at home) to prevent recurrence.

He had a dull ache in his testicle for a while, and when it did not pass he went to see his GP. The GP thought there could be a blockage and prescribed antibiotics. The ache did not go away and he returned to see another GP. He was examined and sent to have an ultrasound scan, which showed some lumps within his testicle. He had blood tests and a few days later his GP confirmed that he had testicular cancer. He had private medical insurance and received the rest of his treatment privately. He had surgery to remove one testicle and the epididymis (an orchidectomy) and also had a prosthetic testicle inserted during the operation. The surgery caused him bruising and he ached for a while after. The type of testicular cancer was confirmed as a teratoma which was 2.5cm in diameter. He recalls feeling numb’ and that the process moved very quickly from visiting his GP to having surgery and seeing an oncologist. He was willing to talk about his diagnosis with people, but he did find repeating it to numerous people difficult. He felt it was important to talk about it to raise awareness of testicular cancer.

The oncologist took a series of blood tests and he had an MRI scan. He was told that if he did not have chemotherapy he would have a 60% chance of survival, but with chemotherapy the survival rate was over 95% at five years. He decided to have chemotherapy, having over 100 hours of treatment in total. During his treatment he looked up some information online but found much of it clinical and negative in tone. He would have liked to have read more about the experiences of other patients. He did attend a support group a couple of times, but found it hard being with other people who were unwell. His family and friends were a great source of support for him. His daughter was ten when he was diagnosed with cancer. He and his wife explained to her that he had a lump that needed to be removed, and found explaining things one stage at a time beneficial. He feels that it was important to be open with her as it would be better for her to learn the information from them than for her to hear snippets from other people.

Before starting chemotherapy he had long hair, and found it distressing when it started to fall out, so he shaved the rest of his hair off. Up until the treatment started he had not felt unwell’ but starting chemotherapy made him feel ill.’ He found he had to force himself to keep going back for treatment. He experienced nausea, bloating and extreme tiredness during the chemotherapy, but found anti-sickness medication effective. He also had a metallic taste in his mouth that got worse as he ate, and he found he could not tolerate any acidic flavours. He experienced pins and needles in his fingers and toes, and had problems with his short term memory so took a notebook around with him to write things down. His memory has now returned to normal, but he found it took a year before his energy levels returned to their original level. Throughout treatment he was able to complete some of his work from home when he felt able to do so.

He had regular check-up appointments following completion of the chemotherapy (every two weeks; monthly; every two months; every six months; annually). It is now six years since he finished treatment and he is no longer required to attend check-ups. His oncologist told him that after five years without a recurrence of cancer his chances of having cancer again in the future was the same as for the rest of the population. He sometimes still thinks about having had cancer, and wonders why he got it. He questions whether it could be related to pesticides as he grew up in a farming environment, or to the fact that he had had a vasectomy. His surgery and treatment has not affected his ability to have sex.

He was very pleased with the care he received privately, and feels sad that the same speed of treatment is not available within the NHS. He found he wanted to know all information, both good and bad during his treatment, so that he could make informed decisions. He found taking one step at a time helpful, rather than thinking too far into the future. He reminds people that many cancers can be treated, so urges people to go and see their GP and not to ignore symptoms.

He had a prosthetic testicle inserted at the same time as having a cancerous testicle removed…

Age at interview 45

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 40