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Interview 25

Age at interview: 28
Age at diagnosis: 27
Brief Outline: Testicular cancer (seminoma) diagnosed in 2001; orchidectomy. No evidence of secondary tumours; one treatment of chemotherapy (only half an hour) to prevent recurrence.
Background: Financial advisor; married, 2 children.

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Explains that delay occurred because his GP falsely reassured him that the lump was nothing to...

Explains that delay occurred because his GP falsely reassured him that the lump was nothing to...

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It was probably about a year ago now, but I was regularly checking myself anyway due to family history of mum and dad passing on with cancer. So since they passed on I was regularly checking myself anyway. Best time to check yourself was in the bath each evening. So I was checking myself one evening in the bath and noticed there was like a hard lump in one of my testicles. It was like a hard stone-like lump, as though a stone was in the middle of your testicle. Thought not right, but I was one of these gentlemen that thought I won't do nothing about it, it'll go away sort of thing, yeah. So I left it for a couple of weeks, mentioned it to the wife and said "Look I think I've got a lump downstairs," and she said "Go to your GP and sort it out then." So eventually I did pluck up the courage to go and see the GP in September of last year. He knew the family history, knew about my mum and dad because he treated them himself and he told me there was nothing to worry about. You know "Yes there is a little bit of a lump there but don't worry about it, it's fine." So I took the doctor's word for it being that you know I trusted him. But it just didn't go away the lump, it just got, it got a little bit bigger as well as months grew on, it did get a little bit bigger. And I kept saying to the wife you know "The lump is still there, it's getting a bit bigger." And probably about 2 or 3 months before the op, in April this year, I was getting slight pains as well.

So that's 2001? 

Yes, I had, I was getting quite acute pain in the testicle area as well, pain that made me double up, I felt a little bit sick as well. So that's when I said "Right I'm going back to the doctor." But I chose a different doctor in the same practice to go and see er to which he stated "I don't think you've got nothing to worry about, I think you've got a blocked urinal gland but I'll refer you on anyway." So I waited about 4 weeks, got an appointment with the specialist.
 
 

Explains what it was like to have a short session of chemotherapy to prevent cancer spread.

Explains what it was like to have a short session of chemotherapy to prevent cancer spread.

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And then in June of this year they said "Right you've got to have further treatment, because it was cancerous you've got to have either a dose of radiotherapy or a shot of chemotherapy." And to be honest with you now the hospitals have devised a new half hour shot of chemotherapy, which they're trying, I think they've only recently brought in and they're trying it out, instead of having radiotherapy. So I went in one morning in June, into the hospital, and they inject you, put a little injection in your arm, have a drip next to you and they feed the liquid chemotherapy into you and that lasted half an hour and that's all I needed.
 
 

Explains the operation in detail.

Explains the operation in detail.

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Right, so a week later I went into the hospital for the operation. You go in the day before, you're not allowed to eat for about 12 hours before the operation, so it's nil by mouth. And then it was, this is the bit that sort of got me, they came round, the doctors, and said "We're going to do the operation, we're going to remove the whole testicle," and they started drawing on me as to where they were going to make the incision, but they started drawing across the groin. And I thought hold it, that's a little bit funny, I said "I'm coming here to have one of my testicles removed." They said "Yeah we take, we do it from the groin downwards." Because I thought they'd make the incision upwards through the scrotum and take it out but they didn't. So what they do they make the incision across the groin and they go down, take out the testicle, take out all the tubes as well that are linked to it, but more importantly they also go down because they need to check from the testicle up to the stomach that it hasn't spread upwards as well. 

So that's what they did, basically made the incision across the groin, took it out. It's only about an hour and a half operation yeah, to be honest with you it was very, when I woke up after the operation it was no pain then because you're still under the anaesthetic but as soon as the anaesthetic wore off it was very painful, couldn't really move around in bed, it was hard to sleep at night, constantly on painkillers when I could have them, when they allowed me to have them. And then it was probably about another 2 days before I went home. Could've gone home the next day but I didn't want to go home because of the, having kids so young, jumping all over you and sort of welcoming you home. So I went home about 2 days after the operation and then it was basically probably about 3 weeks convalescing. 
 
 

Suggests that doctors should use less technical terminology when talking to patients.

Suggests that doctors should use less technical terminology when talking to patients.

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I was waiting for the operation the doctors would come round and they'd draw on parts of your body and say "Right this is what we're going to do," but they were using the technical terms perhaps like testicles, penis er pubic hair, stuff like that. And it, I was a little bit embarrassed to be honest with you, perhaps shying away. I'd rather them perhaps use terms that I would use personally day to day and relax me more. You know if they'd perhaps just said "We're going to move your old man to the right a little bit so we can shave your pubes," rather than, you know "We're going to move your penis to the right and shave your pubic hair. We're going to take one testicle out," use the word bollocks for Christ's sake, that's what men are used to on that yeah. And they'll, definitely I think it would relax them more.

Right

It relaxes me more, just using everyday terms that I'm used to.
 
 

Explains that he developed a painful wound infection after his operation.

Explains that he developed a painful wound infection after his operation.

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Would you like to say a bit more about the infection?

Yeah certainly yeah it was, I was back at home and I had a bit of a cough as well and every time I coughed it was extreme pain. I've never known pain like it to be honest with you, it was a very, very, very severe pain. And I coughed once, and my wound opened up, and it started bleeding quite a lot as well. So the district nurse came out that evening, about 1 o clock in the evening, and she said, "Oh the reason it's opened up is because you've caught an infection, who knows where from though," she said, "it could've been from the hospital, it could've been at home." So it was just a question of going on antibiotics again and cleaning the wound up. That was very painful to be honest with you, yeah, and it was quite scary as well seeing, the last thing you want to do is when you come out of the hospital and had an operation is to see all your wound open up and all blood coming out as well yeah, yeah so that was quite scary.

How long did it take to clear up?

What the infection? About 5 or 6 days roughly, yeah.


 
 

Explains that the operation to remove a testicle made no difference to his sex life.

Explains that the operation to remove a testicle made no difference to his sex life.

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Once I'd had the operation to be honest with you sex wasn't on my mind for a good month I reckon because of the scar healing and it was too sore, difficulty sleeping at night anyway. But once a month had elapsed it was normal, no, nothing to worry about at all. Nothing went through my mind thinking Christ I've only got one, is it going to work and stuff like that. It was the same as before.

Good.

Yeah so nothing different at all. The wife didn't feel any different she, you know she, it wasn't as though it was going through her mind blimey my husband's only got one testicle now, is it going to be any different. So the message really is it makes no difference whatsoever to your sex life.

Oh that's good.

To be honest with you yeah, yeah. You've got to get it in your mind that although you've only one you're still the same person yeah and it's not going to affect you in any way at all.
 
 

Recalls that his telephone calls to a testicular cancer support group helped him to stop worrying.

Recalls that his telephone calls to a testicular cancer support group helped him to stop worrying.

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But also Imperial Cancer Research gave me a help-line number for a young man who runs a testicular cancer help-line, somewhere up in, up north. And I phoned him up one evening and had a chat with him for about an hour and a half and he was very helpful because he's been through it himself. It's different when you're talking to a doctor and you say, "I've got this pain," or "I've been through this," they say, "I can understand," but they don't understand because they've not been through it. But when I spoke to this young man, exactly what I was saying he could relate to. 

A couple of months after the operation as well, which men might need to know about, is I did find another little lump. Wasn't sure what it was, thinking oh my God it's, you know I've got another lump in the other one now. And I spoke to this young man on the testicular help line who's been through it and he had exactly the same thing after his op, and his turned out to be a blood clot which he just took tablets for and it eventually went. Mine turned out to be what they call a varicocele which is where the vein has just got a little bit blocked, it's like a varicose vein, like people get in their legs. But speaking to him, I was completely worried beforehand, thinking oh my God I've got another lump, having spoken to him he was saying what he had, nothing to worry about, it alleviated my concerns a lot. Yeah so it's nice talking to someone who's been there and knows what you're going through, definitely.
 
 

Explains that even though he was on full pay he had some financial difficulties.

Explains that even though he was on full pay he had some financial difficulties.

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The financial implications were, to be honest with you, when I was off sick I did get full pay, but I will say to anyone now [it would help] if they can get some other measures put in place. When I say other measures it might be some sort of perhaps, cover, like for the mortgage, for the loans, perhaps some critical illness cover that gives you a lump sum. Because while I was getting full pay, I had to travel back to hospitals quite a lot. You see you've got more petrol to pay out, I had to go to London so that was a lot of money to get up there. 

When you're at home as well, and you're convalescing, and you're thinking to yourself, I want to do more things with the kids, while I'm off for 4 months I might as well do these things, but I didn't have the money to do it. I did eventually because I sold some shares, I increased my overdraft, perhaps increased my loan, but the last thing you want to worry about is finance, when you've got something like testicular cancer you don't want to have to worry about your finances. So that was a little bit of a struggle to be honest with you, yeah, but the main thing that's come out of that really, I've said to people now and the reason I've done this new job is to point out to people I've been there, I know what it's like. So if you can get some cover put in place it's definitely worthwhile yeah. Because I won't get cover now, unfortunately, because I've had testicular cancer. Certain types of insurances will not cover you at all, exclude you in the future.
 
 

Stresses that men should get to 'know' their own bodies, check themselves regularly and go to the...

Stresses that men should get to 'know' their own bodies, check themselves regularly and go to the...

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But to be honest with you, a message to other men is you know your own body, the doctor can feel you but he doesn't know your own body. You can feel perhaps a bit of pain, you can feel yourself what it's like because you've been doing it, if you're checking yourself regularly and you're doing it every day, if a lump does appear you know it's going to be different. 

And the main message really is to men is you know, if you're in the bath it takes you 2 minutes to check yourself if you don't want to do it yourself get the other half to do it, make it perhaps a little bit more enjoyable (laughs). But, and if, you know if you're regularly checking yourself, perhaps every day, and then if you do come across something that is slightly different you'll know then because you've been checking yourself before and you feel something is slightly odd, go straight to the GP, and to be honest with you now always ask for a referral if you're not happy with the GP's explanation to see a specialist.
 
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