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Rodger - Interview 02

Age at interview: 65
Age at diagnosis: 63
Brief Outline: Rodger first realised there may be something wrong after attending his GP for what he thought were boils in his groin. An examination revealed a small lump on the end of his penis. Tests revealed the lump to be cancerous. Rodger went on to have successful operation to remove the affected area.
Background: Rodger is a white male, married with two grown up children, aged 31 and 28. He is now retired after a career working as an engineer.

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Rodger was attending his GP for what he presumed were blind boils in his groin. Rodger’s GP asked him some questions about the security of his relationship, probing in order to ascertain whether the lump could be a sexually related infection. Rodger was extremely confident about his relationship and was able to assure his GP that this kind of infection was not possible. The GP began performing an examination and noticed what looked like a small wart on the end of Rodger’s penis. Preferring a second opinion he referred Rodger to a specialist at the local hospital.
 
At the hospital the consultant initially believed the lump to be harmless and was happy for Rodger to monitor it before taking any action. A month later, the lump had not gone away and if anything was worse. Rodger went back to his GP who suggested he go back to the hospital for further tests.
 
Rodger had a biopsy (a procedure involving extracting a small tissue sample from his penis). Rodger received a letter through the post asking him to go to another local hospital to get the results. Rodger took his wife with him to the hospital, and they both went into the consultant’s office. The consultant told Rodger that the biopsy had revealed that the lump was cancerous. Rodger thought ‘it can’t be me’, but maintained a calm exterior.
 
The consultant told Rodger that there were no real treatment options and the best option would be to cut the end of his penis off, and if tests proved that the cancer had spread more of the penis should be removed. Rodger could not see any other option and therefore asked to be booked in for an operation.
 
After his diagnosis Rodger told his boss and managing director at work, that he had cancer. They were very sympathetic and he had no problem in obtaining the required time off. He also told his family about his condition when he knew he was going into hospital, they were all shocked but again expressed sympathy. Rodger was adamant that he did not want the news spreading, so asked for discretion.
 
After a short delay Rodger was scheduled to have the operation between Christmas and New Year of that year. Rodger stayed on the hospital ward for one night and had the operation the next morning. The operation went smoothly, and Rodger had the affected area removed. He was also given a skin graft with several stitches to seal up the wound. After the operation Rodger felt slightly sick as a result of the anaesthetic, but once this passed he felt fine. He was surprised that the only medication he was given was some paracetamol.
 
After the operation Rodger was asked to use a catheter to urinate through. He found this difficult to adjust to and was nervous of pulling it out in bed, he also found it a bit awkward changing the bag in the morning. During this time his penis was bandaged up and therefore he couldn’t see any scars.
 
Rodger was asked to visit the nurse two weeks after the operation to take the dressing off, this was quite painful, Rodger gritted his teeth until it was over. This was the first time that Rodger saw the results of the surgery, he was quite pleased with how his penis looked, as was the nurse. The nurse also removed Rodger’s catheter. The nurse demanded that Rodger drink a pint and a half of water and that he demonstrate that he was able to urinate without his catheter. After this initial check-up Rodger was asked to attend another check up in six weeks time, once again this check-up revealed no concerns. From this point Rodger was in contact with the hospital every three months for a CT scan (a scan that takes a series of X-rays, pieced together to give a cross-sectional image of the body) and a subsequent check up with the consultant.

Rodger has been able live a full lifestyle since his treatment. He has continued to be sexually active and is extremely positive about life.  
 

Rodger went to see his GP for something unrelated. Whilst he was being examined, the GP noticed...

Rodger went to see his GP for something unrelated. Whilst he was being examined, the GP noticed...

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Basically I went to the doctor’s... for something completely different… and as I was being examined the doctor noticed [hesitation] what looked like a wart so he said, ‘I think we ought to have a second opinion on this’ and arranged for me to go to the local hospital. I went, and I was examined and at that stage he didn’t seem to think it was anything untoward. I then, probably a month later it seemed to get worse, so I went back to the doctors and he said, ‘Yes, I think we ought to have you back in again.’ This time they said they’d do a biopsy on a day ward.

 

Rodger had no worries about students looking at his body, he felt that the only way for them to...

Rodger had no worries about students looking at his body, he felt that the only way for them to...

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How did you feel about letting students look at that area of your body?

I’ve no worries at all because at the end of the day... people have got to learn and the only way of learning is by seeing it in the field.. in the hospital it was the same, when they came...

...round on the next day after the operation... he had students with him and they all inspected me and muttered. It doesn’t worry me now, it’s not a thing that has ever worried me in a sense, alright I’m not an exhibitionist (chuckles), yer know, you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all I should imagine, that was the comment that the nurse said when she took the dressing off, she said, ‘You do realise I’ve got a job in a million’ so I said, ‘Why, why is that?’ she said, ‘It’s not every day you’ll be able to get hold of a man’s penis as part of the job!’ and I laughed and she laughed and when I came out the room where she was taking the dressing off everybody outside who was with me said, ‘What was going off in there? You were having a laugh and a joke!’ so I said ‘I’ll tell you later.’ But it was light-hearted... from everybody’s point of view really, on that side.
 

 

Rodger discussed things with his wife but she tended to worry more than he did; he decided to ...

Rodger discussed things with his wife but she tended to worry more than he did; he decided to ...

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What were your immediate thoughts when you received that diagnosis?

Can’t be me. But basically I’m one for not showing… worry. The wife always worries about things and I just say ‘look, we’ll take it at one step at a time. And at this stage I don’t feel ill… I’ll go and have the operation and see where we go from there.’ I was working at the time. I went into work and told them I’d got to go in for the operation, they were… sympathised with the problem and there were no problems at all with having the time off and I was back at work within three week of having the operation. But physically, I didn’t feel any different other than minus the end of the penis.

You talked about not disclosing any worries. How did you feel inside though?

Oh, well it’s very hard to say how you feel inside… I have tendency to try and blank things out...  same with work. If I go to work I’ll worry and get the job done accordingly, but once I leave the gate I always try and forget it and… that’s through years of experience of, of being in … a situation, especially at work where the pressure’s great while you’re there but if you keep it and take it home, it gets even worse, so I’ve sort of got to the stage now where I don’t let things worry me at all to that degree… if I have a problem I discuss it with the wife but nine times out of ten she’ll have more problems than I will with the problem I’ve got, because she’s always whittling about everything, you know, so that’s all I can say really.
 

 

Rodger’s boss and managing director both told him that he shouldn’t come back to work until he...

Rodger’s boss and managing director both told him that he shouldn’t come back to work until he...

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Did you tell your colleagues?

No, I only told the colleague that I’ve known for years, who I work with, who was – he was my boss, so I told him. Ah…he was quite put back over it but he said, ‘All your… as far as I’m concerned you don’t come back to work till you’re physically fit.’ I went to tell the MD and he said the same. So there was no hassle at all on that side. And nobody at that time knew what the cancer was. I just said ‘I’ve got cancer, I’m going to go in the hospital and have an operation and... the outcome will be what it will be.’
 

 

Rodger had his operation under general anaesthetic; he was slightly sick afterwards.

Rodger had his operation under general anaesthetic; he was slightly sick afterwards.

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Were you under a general anaesthetic or a local?

General.

Did that have any effects on you?

No...  no...  I was slightly sick afterwards but I was told that that was due to the anaesthetic. When I had the  original biopsy at the local hospital, I was sick then, so basically I told them that, at the specialist hospital and they said, ‘Oh well we’ll sort that out on the … oh now what do you call him? The anaesthetist would sort that out as the amount of drugs or whatever they give you to take the pain away or whatever. And I was slightly sick...  at the teatime after the operation because I had something to eat, but after that there was no problems at all.
 

 

Rodger felt nervous before the operation, but he doesn’t worry about things a lot and he didn’t...

Rodger felt nervous before the operation, but he doesn’t worry about things a lot and he didn’t...

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Nervous (laughs) Nervous. I was nervous going to the hospital... to the degree that obviously everybody was going to leave, but I knew that I was only in for the night and the next morning I was going to have the operation straight away, so I didn’t have the time to get myself worked up- as I say I don’t worry about things a lot – and, and he came to see me in the morning and he said, ‘Are you alright?’ I said ‘yes’ he said ‘you realise what’s happening?’ I said, ‘Yes’ he said ‘well you’ll be down in half an hour and you’ll be back in the ward within two hours, hopefully if everything’s gone according to plan...  and we’ll take it from there,’ and they did. So I wasn’t too apprehensive at what was happening because I knew that I had to have it done, in a sense.

 

After declaring his cancer diagnosis, Rodger found that the cost of travel insurance soared.

After declaring his cancer diagnosis, Rodger found that the cost of travel insurance soared.

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The only thing that it does effect is… you probably wouldn’t know this but if you were going on holiday and you need insurance as soon as you mention ‘cancer’ the premiums go up, whether it’s terminal or not, as soon as the word’s mentioned they ask you all the questions – ‘when did you last go to the doctor’s?’ and the premiums go up and that’s the only effect it has on your life [hesitation] from the point of view of carrying on. It has a cost implication that you would never really think about at the time. Everybody thinks about ‘I want to live’ but then they say ‘oh I’ll go on holiday’ and then you think ‘oh that’s cost me, the insurance has cost me nearly as much as the holiday’ and at the end it’s a big thing. I suppose a lot of cancer patients – especially with conditions worse than mine will find it very difficult to actually get an holiday because they’re probably not working, probably not retired there’s several other things that you’ve got to look at from their point of view as well as my point of view but the point of insurance on your life is an important factor when it comes to continuing your lifestyle as it originally was. I mean if you went on holiday tomorrow you’d just go down to the holiday place, book it, take out an insurance, end of conversation. I go down, I book it and then I think ‘how, how much is it going to cost me on the insurance?’ We went to Canada to see my son six months after and the price of the insurance was nearly as much as the air fare just because I’d had a problem. At the stage, at the time I was at, no problem with me, it was just that you’d been a cancer patient and as far as they’re concerned it’s an added cost to them because obviously if anything did happen while you’re away and you didn’t disclose it, it would be a problem for your family to get you back or whatever, or treatment or whatever… So that’s the only thing in life that’s sort of slowed up a bit is actually picking a holiday (laughs).

 

While Rodger hasn’t needed any aftercare, he has regular check-ups where they examine him for...

While Rodger hasn’t needed any aftercare, he has regular check-ups where they examine him for...

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I didn’t need any aftercare whatsoever... really... if I’d have needed any I would have, I would have sure they would have gave, given me the treatment necessary. Every time I’ve gone they’ve been inspecting me and made sure that there’s no lumps or anything else. They’ve asked me the same sort of questions every time and they always comment on what a good job it is (laughs) and once or twice I’ve had a few students being there at the same time you know... and I’ve had no problems with it at all really. As I say I think I’ve been very, very lucky.

 

Rodger had a catheter in for a fortnight after the operation. When he had the catheter removed,...

Rodger had a catheter in for a fortnight after the operation. When he had the catheter removed,...

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Well I was lucky really. I had... the catheter in... for a fortnight so really from a waterworks point of view I had no problems at all there because it was all automatic. Once I had the catheter out on the first visit to take the dressing off my catheter came out she said that I’d got to sup a pint and half of water and ‘you’re not leaving the hospital until you’ve been to the toilet and I seen that you’ve been to the toilet because I want a sample.’ Alright, you think ‘oo what happens if I don’t want to go?’ she said, ‘You’re still not leaving and if you don’t wee then the catheter will go back in.’ So it gives, it gives you that ‘I’ve got to go to the toilet, no matter how long it takes I’ve got to go because I don’t want the catheter back in. I want to be able to function on my, on my own bat.’ And other than sitting down for quite a period of time... I had no problems again whereas when I was in the hospital there were several people there going in for bladder problems and they couldn’t go to the toilet... so it made me realise that although I’d had the catheter in I could still function as I would normally do although not necessarily to the degree as I did before, possibly not as much as I did before because I probably was going... more regular for short, short amounts where I should imagine that would be because of the operation, just to be sure that you weren’t filling your bladder up and then obviously causing a major problem going to the toilet every time but now I have no problems with it at all.

 

Rodger feels that for most men there will be light at the end of the tunnel, although he...

Rodger feels that for most men there will be light at the end of the tunnel, although he...

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Always look on the bright side because at the end of the day there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and it’s up to them to have the strength to actually think that and carry on. I know in some cases it can’t be the case because obviously it can be terminal and it can be painful... but as I say I’ve been lucky and it’s not been either of them.

 

Rodger talks about being totally happy with the service he has received from his consultant.

Rodger talks about being totally happy with the service he has received from his consultant.

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I think the service that I received from the consultant I can’t name has been exceptionally good. I’ve been very pleased with him, he’s asked me if I wanted to go back to my own hospital because of the travelling, I’ve said, ‘No, I am totally happy travelling here to see you because I know that I’m in the right hands.’

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