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Interview 31

Age at interview: 40
Age at diagnosis: 37
Brief Outline: Testicular cancer diagnosed in 1999, with secondary tumours in the abdomen. Orchidectomy and chemotherapy (3 cycles with 2 days in hospital and one week at home for each cycle).
Background: Engineer; married, 2 children.

More about me...

 

Recalls that some of his friends avoided him after he was diagnosed.

Recalls that some of his friends avoided him after he was diagnosed.

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Some people, strangely enough, didn't approach you or didn't say anything because they weren't quite sure what to say because they all, particularly older people, tend to think, link the word 'cancer' with death and they think you're dying, so they don't say anything. Other people are curious and want to ask you about it but some people, some good friends of mine actually avoided me, which was quite a strange situation.

I think perhaps if people are made aware of how other people react when you tell people, how they react is a bit strange. Particularly my parents, being old, the word 'cancer' to them means you're gonna die. Younger people have a better understanding I think now because cancer's moved on so much since the initial diagnosis and things like that. But older people when you tell them you've been diagnosed with cancer, they just can't believe it, they think that's the end of it, making, being aware for people's reaction when you tell them as well. Some people are so shocked and some people will say 'Why you?' and 'You don't deserve this' and people talk in very old-fashioned clich's. And totally inappropriate, and it doesn't really help at all, it just upsets you even more.

Hmm.

In fact they worry you and your family even more. Some of the things people say, like 'What you gonna do next year, its not much, its not worth you booking a holiday is it?' Things like that, which just upset you, particularly with your wife as well.

Did you have a lot of reactions like that?

Yeah, friends and family just totally ill-informed I suppose they don't know, you know, they've never encountered any kind of cancer I suppose in our family before, so they're ill-informed and when you tell them they're shocked and they nine times out of then react in a very unsupportive and inappropriate way.

 

Says that although a doctor said that an undescended testicle might cause testicular cancer he...

Says that although a doctor said that an undescended testicle might cause testicular cancer he...

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Do you ever think about what might have caused it, or what causes it?

I've heard several different, one of the doctors said an undescended testicle may have caused it, that tends to be the case with a lot of men. If in childhood you have an undescended testicle and they have to do an operation for that, but, no, no reason whatsoever, I've certainly got no family history. Nobody in my family has had any form of cancer at all. My father's 90, he's never had cancer in any way, he's quite healthy. It was totally random; it really was totally random.

 

Suggests that if he had had more information he would have been better prepared for the news that...

Suggests that if he had had more information he would have been better prepared for the news that...

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Do you think it would have been better if you'd had the Cancerbackup books all about it before you had the operation?

It would have been better if I had been told and informed and known what to expect. Even if I was told the worst, anything else would have been a bonus. If I was told the worst scenario, the worst situation, then I could have prepared myself psychologically, but to go into an interview room to be told, what I thought would be, 'The operation's been a success, the cancer's gone and that's the end of it.' To be then told that the cancer had spread and I needed to have chemotherapy was a big shock, both for myself and for my wife. I mean my wife was crying, I was very upset, it was a very frightening time.

 

Explains what life was like in hospital while having chemotherapy to cure the spread of the...

Explains what life was like in hospital while having chemotherapy to cure the spread of the...

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What's it actually like having the chemotherapy in hospital?

Well you're wired up to this portable dosing machine, which is like an electronic dosing machine. The nurses set that up and they have a bag hanging above it. And it's a little tiny tube going into your arm you can't actually feel it going in at all because you're, by now you're used to having this little tube in your arm because it stays there for the whole period you're in hospital. And, and you get quite proficient at monitoring this machine, you get to know how much you've got left, you get to know the rate, you can speed the rate up if you want to try and hurry it up, the nurses let you do that. You know what the alarms are, you know how to re-set the machine and because it's on wheels you can go for walks with this machine and its quite amusing to see lots of people wandering around with, pushing their little trolleys around the corridors and going to the canteen and going to the bookshop and everything, so you've got quite a lot of freedom. Difficult of a night when you're trying to sleep because if you roll over you can kink the uh, cable or you can actually pull it out of your arm, which I did once and then the alarm goes off and the nurse has to re-do it all again in the middle of the night. But you sort of get used to it, it's not that painful or anything at all.

 

Recalls that his colleagues and his boss were very supportive.

Recalls that his colleagues and his boss were very supportive.

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Did you talk about it at work?

I did, I told everybody at work. My boss was very supportive, gave me as much time off as I wanted. He came round to visit me. I had cards from people at work. Initially I was a bit embarrassed by it being testicular cancer you know and having to have one of my testicles removed. Once I told everybody at work I think there was a big sense of 'thank God it wasn't me' actually. I think everybody was very supportive. 

My boss came round. I had get-well cards, once I told my boss that one of the things I could taste was ginger and everything else tasted metallic, he brought round two crates of ginger beer for me. So. Yeah everybody was helpful and supported and they involved me in a couple of team building days and social events, I went to which was quite'

Were you ever worried that you might lose your job or anything like that?

It did cross my mind, but because my boss was so supportive, and I think he was quite well informed as well, I think he realised it was all very short term and once I was back I would be able to continue working as per normal. Once I did go back to work I did have to fill out a form saying that I could carry out my duties as per normal, but that was just a formality, that was just to cover themselves I understand. 

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