A-Z

Big D - Interview 04

Age at interview: 61
Age at diagnosis: 60
Brief Outline: After finding a lump which had emerged on the side of his penis, Big D sought advice from his GP who referred him onto a specialist. He was diagnosed with penile cancer in 2009, and was given a partial penectomy in the same year.
Background: Big D is a white male. He is married with 3 children, aged 35, 29 and 28. He currently works as a full time duty manager at bus company.

More about me...

Big D realised there maybe something wrong when he found a lump on the side of his penis in early 2009. As he had no pain he felt that there was no reason to expect anything to be seriously wrong, although he suspected it may be an infection of some kind. Big D delayed taking any action, thinking that it would go away. After the lump did not go away he decided to talk to his wife, a medical secretary at the local hospital. After discussing the lump with his wife, he agreed to mention the existence of the lump at a forthcoming routine consultation with his GP. 
 
After looking at the lump, Big D’s GP was unable to give a diagnosis, however suspected it was a cyst. The GP referred Big D to a specialist to run further tests. The specialist took some blood tests and a biopsy. The specialist recommended that Big D go to the hospital immediately for a circumcision and removal of the lump. 
 
As Big D and his wife had a holiday booked, Big D delayed attending the hospital until their return. Back from holiday Big D attended an early appointment at the hospital to have surgery. Big D elected to have an epidural, an anaesthetic injected into the spinal canal. Big D found the epidural made the operation much easier for him. After the operation Big D was able to return home the same day, and was very relaxed about his condition. 
 
Results from a biopsy taken of the lump indicated that Big D might have cancer. This initial diagnosis was confirmed by a second biopsy which also indicated that the cancer had progressed since the initial surgery. Despite this Big D was relatively relaxed. It was not until the specialist told him ‘I operate and cure you, or the cancer will kill you’ that Big D realised the gravity of the situation. Given his diagnosis Big D did not feel that he had a choice about the treatment, and accepted surgery.
 
The thought of surgery frightened Big D, who feared he would have to wear a bag to urinate into. Big D was given a booklet about penile cancer, however this booklet was primarily concerned with detailing the operation rather than informing the reader about penile cancer. Not having access to the internet, Big D felt he had no means of accessing any further information, however he was able to gain some information about penile cancer from his wife.
 
By this stage Big D had told his employer of his diagnosis, as he expected that he may need to have some time off work at various points over the course of the treatment. However, as Big D’s first wife had died of bowel cancer he resisted telling his children, in order to prevent them from worrying.
 
Taking the specialists advice Big D awaited a surgery date. He received a phone call from the hospital a few days later at four o’clock and was asked if he could get to the hospital for six o’clock. Despite rush hour traffic and a stop at the chip shop for tea Big D made it to the hospital accompanied by his wife. He was told the next day that he would be operated on about half past eight that day.
 
Big D received a partial penectomy, which involved having the end of his penis removed, and skin graft from the leg to repair the wound. The operation went smoothly and he was back on the ward for half past eleven that same day. Big D was able to go home the next day. 
 
Back at home Big D was asked to wear a catheter and bag for a week and was advised that he would not be able to have a sex life for around six months. He was nervous about pulling the bag off whilst asleep, but he found that he coped very well with the assistance of his wife. Big D found that the most uncomfortable aspect of the recovery was the skin graft, which he said was bandaged too tightly. 
 
Big D was not made aware how the operation would impact on him going to the toilet. He found that it was easier to sit down when urinating, as it was harder to direct the flow than before the operation. Whilst Big D is anxious about the impact that the surgery has had on his sex life, he says that he is lucky in having a very understanding wife who puts him at ease. 
 
Since being treated for penile cancer Big D has been diagnosed and treated for bowel cancer and is doing well. He has a scan and sees a specialist every six months to check for any changes in his condition. 
 
 

Big D’s partner encouraged him to seek help. He said he probably would have sought help...

Big D’s partner encouraged him to seek help. He said he probably would have sought help...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So what encouraged you to seek help?

My partner basically. Just in case anything was more sinister than we thought. She bullied me a little bit into it. But when you think about it you can see the reasons behind it. But at that stage I wasn’t thinking about it.


Do you think you would have gone to see someone else for help if it wasn’t for your partner?


It depends how long. It would probably have been a lot longer than it was. If the lump was still there and I was still worried about it then eventually I probably would have done, yes. But it might have been six months down the line, or further.
 

 

Big D was given a diagnosis after a biopsy on his penis and circumcision and was subsequently...

Big D was given a diagnosis after a biopsy on his penis and circumcision and was subsequently...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

How did the specialist break the news to you that you actually did have penile cancer?

Well that was after he’d done the circumcision, the biopsy and the circumcision, basically he decided that he thought it was possibly cancer and I needed to see another specialist that specialised in that situation. As I say even at that stage it didn’t bother me. I was relaxed about it. I think the only stage in the whole situation was basically when he said that he either operated and cured me or it killed me. That’s when you tend to think something more sinister is afoot but until then I’d had no qualms whatsoever about it.
 

 

After working at the same place for over 30 years, Big D’s support from his boss was wonderful.

Text only
Read below

After working at the same place for over 30 years, Big D’s support from his boss was wonderful.

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

As far as being off work, or thoughts about me whilst I was going through the operation or whatever I think yes, it was a hundred per cent. My boss was superb. But obviously I’ve been lucky with that, I’ve been there a long time as well. When you’ve been somewhere 34 years you get to know people don’t you? [Smiles].

 

Big D wore a catheter for a week after surgery; he was frightened that he might pull the bag off...

Big D wore a catheter for a week after surgery; he was frightened that he might pull the bag off...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I came home and I had this catheter and the bag on for a week. The hardest job is emptying it in the night. I was possibly a little bit frightened that you might pull the bag off or whatever while you’re asleep, but I found I cope very well with that. I had a fair bit of assistance from my partner. Then you go back and they take the catheter out after a week – that’s to stop, excuse me, infection more than anything. After that I was alright.

 

Big D was advised not to attempt to have sex for a few months after surgery but he says he has a...

Big D was advised not to attempt to have sex for a few months after surgery but he says he has a...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Well, obviously it affects your sex life. the doctor did say that I probably wouldn’t have any other sex life for at least 12 months or thereabouts, he did say there would be a period, or a period where he advised you not to try [chuckles] and have a sex life. And yes it has affected that side of it over a period of time but I have a very understanding partner and she tries to put me at ease that way. That’s the only thing I worry about, not being able to satisfy my partner.

Previous Page
Next Page