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Interview 36

Age at interview: 37
Age at diagnosis: 37
Brief Outline: Testicular cancer (seminoma) diagnosed in 2001; orchidectomy. No secondary tumours found, but 10 treatments of radiotherapy to prevent recurrence.
Background: Sales Manager; married, 3 children.

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Recalls that he was advised not to lift heavy objects after the operation.

Recalls that he was advised not to lift heavy objects after the operation.

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But it wasn't that painful but it wasn't that discomfort it was just that you couldn't lift anyone because of the hernia area. I wasn't allowed to lift for six weeks, I wasn't allowed to drive for, well, they said five weeks on this particular case. But children it was, I think I wasn't allowed to lift for six to eight weeks I wasn't allowed to lift the children or anything over so many stone. So I mean like my baby, I could lift my baby up after about a month but I wasn't allowed, they said if you start with the next child, which is a lot, he's a lot heavier, it would have been too much for me and I could have then torn myself inside and bled and then have to go back to hospital. So you have to be very careful about lifting things of any weight. So my advice is if you can get away without lifting anything, don't lift anything. I mean books and reading material no problem, but anything of any substantial weight.

 

Explains that when he felt sick during his radiotherapy he felt very depressed.

Explains that when he felt sick during his radiotherapy he felt very depressed.

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It was, oh, it [sickness] was awful, I just, I really didn't cope too well with it. And I'm always like a, my glass is always half full, never half empty and this, this was the closest thing that I would say that I had ever come to a clinical depression. It was a bad time. A very bad time. I couldn't get out of this rut even though my mind knew it was OK this feeling just made you feel really awful. 

But this overwhelming feeling of feeling sick and down, I felt so down and I, you try and explain but you can't explain to people why you're feeling so depressed over something that you cannot see affecting you, you just feel the results of it and it is a bit sad. But luckily the Mrs, the wife was uh, well, told me off in the right time and listened in the right time and you know sometimes its one of those little battles sometimes you have to, depending on how badly you're affected by the, the radiotherapy. It's something that you have to deal with because you're the only one feeling that experience, or experiencing that feeling I should say. I would…

Did you get any other side-effects apart from this feeling of depression and sickness?

No, that was it, it was the depression that was the most all consuming because I'm not like that, I enjoy life, I've always enjoyed life and before I went for the radiotherapy I thought well once this is all out the way, brilliant.

 

Explains that his scar is still quite tender, six months after surgery.

Explains that his scar is still quite tender, six months after surgery.

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Even now [six months after surgery] the scar from the operation, as I said was about five centimetres, well two and a half inches, its actually quite tender. I notice it if we're making love or anything like that. Or if I catch it or if the children are sitting on my lap and they sit on it, a bony bum, or whatever, gets on to that then it feels tender. But it's turned into now just like a red line. They don't use stitching on the outside anymore, they use a glue and that, that in itself is a good thing.

 

Explains that he had some internal bleeding and that he was bruised and swollen after surgery.

Explains that he had some internal bleeding and that he was bruised and swollen after surgery.

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And then I went back to the ward, the consultant came round to see how I was, and the bruising, it looks like bruising because when you have this operation, even though they try and stitch you up, and this is what the consultant said, he tried to stitch me, get rid of as much possible blood loss internally as he could but every now and then you get these drips and they drip and they drip and they drip inside. I mean you, it doesn't mean anything to you, so I was quite swollen down there.

The, the scrotum is very swollen because there's still blood in there as it was dripping in but it also seems to secrete down the skin for some reason so I was actually, it looked like I was bruised to my knee, it was like a, it was almost like a triangular shape going back up to my knee

They say its usually around about three to five weeks you have off depending how much you've bled and unfortunately I was so borderline on how much I'd bled internally so I was very, very swollen. I would say to the size of a grapefruit! Yeah it was a, pretty swollen. It made the wife cry a little bit because she thought, it actually looked like I'd, I suppose the best way of explaining it as I'd been in a car accident and I'd landed on the gear stick, it was along those sort of lines, it looked that bruised, but it wasn't that painful, it wasn't that uncomfortable.

 

Explains that part of his leg was numb for a while because the doctor attached electrodes to...

Explains that part of his leg was numb for a while because the doctor attached electrodes to...

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I'd also noticed that, not only had they shaved the area where they lift the testicle out [the groin area], but they'd also shaved the outside of my leg on my quads. And I asked them about that because it was completely numb and it felt very strange, they said, 'Oh, six months it will probably be numb.' What they do is they strap some sort of electrodes on your side of your leg and they send electrical currents through to reduce the amount of blood loss you have while you're having the operation, it's meant to reduce it. 

 

Explains that the operation made no difference to his sex life or to his relationship with his wife.

Explains that the operation made no difference to his sex life or to his relationship with his wife.

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As far as my sex life was concerned three weeks after I had the operation we managed to have full sex. So if you can imagine even though it's [the operation] very invasive, there was no real problem. You have to be so careful because you're very tender, especially where the incision was. The swelling had gone down quite dramatically by then. But it was still, still say orange size! Or small orange size, Satsuma size or maybe or whatever, on that side, but there was still, the, the actual effects of the swelling wasn't stopping us now from enjoying sex if we wanted sex. I was finding, I wasn't as, shall we say randy as I normally was but within two weeks of the first time I was back to being my normal self, if not more than my normal self. I, I found that I wanted sex more. Maybe that's a psychological thing of losing the testicle I don't know but it was, it definitely was the case and it hasn't gone away yet; to my wife's annoyance! But no, so as far as sex is concerned it doesn't seem to have an affect at all. My wife has also explained that as far as she's concerned it doesn't actually look that different from the time before, unless you're looking straight on and normally it doesn't get in the way of our sex life anyway. But uh, no there is no, thinking about it there was no, it hasn't affected her at all. But that's our relationship.

 

Says that he was concerned about safety, but that if he had been younger and single he would have...

Says that he was concerned about safety, but that if he had been younger and single he would have...

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The consultant had offered prior to the operation on the day that I went into the hospital “Was I interested in having a prosthesis fitted?” At the time there was a thing about breast implants for women having being cancerous because it was made of silicon or something like that and I just enquired and they said its exactly the same type of product that you would find in the average breast enlargement. And he said most people of my age group are not really that interested but they don't like the fact that it might be a little bit off balanced or something, they might feel a little bit unsure.

I thought about it for more than a couple of minutes and I realised there was no need for it, for me personally at my age [aged 37], and I knew my wife wouldn't have minded either, but having something inside me that had no feeling but I could feel was there was worse than you know being left clear so to speak. So that was offered to me but I declined it, there was no real need. If I was single and I was in my early twenties then I would almost certainly have gone for it but as I am now there was no need for it.

So for a guy who is in his early twenties is that because he'd be having new partners?

New partners, yeah you'd be, I think personally if I wasn't in as strong a relationship as I am now, I would be more concerned about having only one testicle because when you actually look at yourself after you've recovered from all the operation and all the swelling's gone down and all the bruising's gone away you, from the sides it looks normal, but from the front you can see you, you're only hanging down one way. 

 

Asserts that he is now at peace and doesn't fear death, and appreciates life much more than he did.

Asserts that he is now at peace and doesn't fear death, and appreciates life much more than he did.

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Yeah, as I say I've confronted my demons about dying and I've definitely, I can say I, I don't feel the fear like I, whenever you hear about someone dying, a family member or a friend or someone important, like when you heard Princess Diana died everyone suddenly thinks oh you know we're all gonna die and that. And you start thinking and what happens when my turn comes. That doesn't concern me anymore. I'm more, as I say I'm more at peace after all of this episode than I have been in my entire life. Basically because I've never confronted that issue. I've, its funny I always felt, “I'm never gonna die”, you know, you feel too young and enjoying it too much. But I still, there's still the young adult in me, still laughing and joking around, I haven't lost that bit but I'm now, I feel a bit older. I feel a bit more like a, I suppose more manly in a mental sort of a way. I'm like a more, more at peace I think more than anything. It is a weird thing and this might just be me I don't know but I am less concerned now about trivial things as well. There's so much more, more good things in the world to appreciate. I know its silly they say when you have something really bad you, you smell the flowers more, you see the greener, the more green in the grass and everything just seems a little bit better that you didn't take, you may have taken for granted, you see it in a different light.

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