A-Z

Frank - Interview 24

Age at interview: 74
Age at diagnosis: 73
Brief Outline: Two years after undergoing a partial circumcision, Frank found a small lump under the remainder, this lump was then diagnosed as cancerous tissue. Frank was referred to a Regional Centre where he underwent a full circumcision and penile biopsy. He then required a bi-lateral inguinal lymphadenectomy.
Background: Frank is a white, widowed male. He has one grown up child. Now retired Frank used to work as a civil servant. Frank currently lives on his own.

More about me...

Frank first visited his GP with urinary problems, which necessitated a partial circumcision at his local hospital. Two years later, under what was left of his foreskin, he found a small, hard white lump. It was not painful but worried him so much that he immediately went to his GP. Again, the GP referred him to his local hospital where the lump was removed and identified as cancerous tissue.

On receiving the news quite abruptly, Frank was initially shocked but soon realised it was something that would have to be dealt with. He was then referred to a urologist at a Specialist Penile Cancer Centre where he underwent a full circumcision and penile biopsy. After that the surgeon recommended he have a bilateral inguinal lymphadenectomy. This last operation Frank found to be the most traumatic of all as it involved the regular dressing of wounds (which proved a problem to heal) and the draining of fluid from both sides of the groin. He was discharged into the care of the district nursing team and had to attend the hospital outpatients department weekly. His family and friends helped him practically with household tasks as he received no help from social services.

Frank told his family about his condition as soon as he knew but, has told no-one else. If friends have asked he has just said he had had ‘a urinary problem’. At the moment, Frank’s mobility is restricted owing to rheumatoid arthritis, which means that he has difficulty getting sufficient exercise. Other than that, now that his wounds have healed, he considers the operations have had very little impact on his life. It is now four years since the first operation and he still feels he is ‘living with cancer’. Currently awaiting a CT scan, until he receives his final ‘all clear’ he considers his life to be in limbo.

 

 

Frank Z had no objection to health professionals seeing his groin; he feels men shouldn’t fear this because the most important thing is to get well.

Frank Z had no objection to health professionals seeing his groin; he feels men shouldn’t fear this because the most important thing is to get well.

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All through the time I’ve been going to the hospital I’ve had no objection to anybody seeing my groin or working on my groin area. In 99.9 it’s all been done by female nursing staff of different grades. My consultant, he kept initially having a look and giving his advice to his nursing staff what has got to be undertaken. But I had no problem with anything like that. And people shouldn’t fear anything like that because as I say the main thing you should consider is getting yourself well.

 

Frank Z had been told that Social Services could provide help at home after his treatment, but this didn't happen; instead friends and family did his housework and shopping.

Frank Z had been told that Social Services could provide help at home after his treatment, but this didn't happen; instead friends and family did his housework and shopping.

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Well family and friends, initially I am a widower, I live on my own and they were doing my shopping and caring for my needs and my daughter used to come and do some cleaning for me, because I was immobile, because every time I moved my wound was leaking. So friends and neighbours they would do shopping for me. So I was well covered with that aspect. I understand that... I’ve been... well I’ve been lead to believe that the local authority social services do help you, but in my case I’ve had no help whatsoever and I’ve... I’ve had no offer of help from the social services, which I must point out.

 

Frank Z is a very private person; he told only his immediate family the full details of his diagnosis while telling friends he had 'a urinary problem'.

Frank Z is a very private person; he told only his immediate family the full details of his diagnosis while telling friends he had 'a urinary problem'.

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Did you tell anybody else apart from your family when you received the diagnosis?

No I’ve not told anybody. Only my nearest family. And the friends who I know I’ve just put it… it was …a problem to do with urinary problem, and left a window, a wide window. I haven’t gone into details with anybody other than my family.

What was your reasoning behind keeping it private?

Well initially I… I’m a person who is very… thinks very privately. I keep things and confidences are very important to me. And I… if I was told anything in confidence I would keep it in confidence. And it’s like I told my daughter and my granddaughter. They know all the details and they’ve kept it to themselves. Because it’s not something that you advertise, any medical problem, you… you don’t advertise… as such.

Can you remember how you disclosed your diagnosis to your family?

I disclosed my diagnosis originally over the phone and once I’d disclosed it naturally my daughter was very upset. And she had to ring off, ‘I’ll ring… ring you back Dad’. And she rung me back within the hour where we you know we… we’d more or less accepted it. I was upset in having to tell her and she was upset in getting the news. But then there was just like a pause for reality to kick in and then she rung me back. And we discussed things and then we met the following day. And thereafter she thinks positively, I also think positively.
 

 

Frank Z says that he had some soreness but was surprised how little discomfort there was.

Frank Z says that he had some soreness but was surprised how little discomfort there was.

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There was no problem… to be honest I’ve never had any discomfort especially with this last operation. The other ones I got soreness because err as you would appreciate, that anything, any wound, you’ll get a little bit of soreness from. But the major operation I was amazed at how little discomfort I did get. And the main thing what you tend to do is obey your instructions when you’re in hospital because it, it brings forward going home quicker. I must put that in.

 

After the removal of his lymph nodes, Frank Z had two drains from his groin leading to a bag strapped to his leg. The leakage was embarrassing, so he stopped going out until things improved.

After the removal of his lymph nodes, Frank Z had two drains from his groin leading to a bag strapped to his leg. The leakage was embarrassing, so he stopped going out until things improved.

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Thereafter they decided that and I needed the lymph nodes removed in my groin, prior to me having a needle biopsy, which this was diagnosed at the time. After the operation the… you find that when you come round you’ve got drain tubes in either side and you also have a catheter in your penis into your bladder, which is all inserted while you’re in the operating theatre. And you’re under, and you don’t feel any pain or anything. When I were returned to the ward you find all this things plus the drip are installed. And on.. .in my case I was given a dosage of morphine for pain which was self-administered over a period of every 10 minutes. And I had this for about four or five hours. And then it was removed and then it was general care by the nursing staff. You… your drains which are in your thigh, in your groin either side, right and left, you have a pipe and a bag attached to your leg. And periodically you have to empty the fluid but it’s got to be measured of what amount of bodily fluids you’re losing. This fluid is not urine. It is body fluid, which might have a pink coating, a slight trace of blood in it. After a period of time you’re released and sent home but you’re sent home with your drains in, tact. You still have to monitor it when you’re at home. When you get home arrangements have been made for a district nurse to call on a daily basis to care for your needs. In my case it was once a day, they came

On a weekly basis I was going back to my hospital and err was seen by the senior sister and the consultant, alternatively to check for this fluid. After a month after the operation the drain tubes must be taken out because they tend to grown into your flesh or your flesh grows round them. When this is done your body has got to learn to deal with this fluid. In my case it left a deposit on either groin which was on a weekly basis emptied and it was taking out approximately a litre plus.

Because you’re restricted to your home, when you’re leaking all the time, you can’t go anywhere. It could be a source of embarrassment if you went out because you’d get wet patches on your trousers or whatever. So to resolve not having that embarrassment you tend to stay in. That’s why people have been good enough, including my family, to do my shopping and what help I’ve had.
 

 

Frank Z suggests the main thing is to think positive and not to look back.

Frank Z suggests the main thing is to think positive and not to look back.

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Well the main thing is I would, well it’s up to your consultant to be honest, is to get it resolved straight away. If you’ve got to have surgery, have surgery and get it resolved. But your main thing in life is to think positive. Don’t look back. You can reflect back and think about it, by all means. But you should think what forward. As I say I’m a forward-thinking person but it’s still at the back of your mind what the, your medical problems are.

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