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Interview 44

Age at interview: 30
Age at diagnosis: 27
Brief Outline: Testicular cancer (teratoma and seminoma) diagnosed in 1998. Orchidectomy, and active monitoring (surveillance). In December 1999 secondary abdominal tumour found, followed by 3 months chemotherapy (each cycle 3 days in hospital followed by 2 weeks at home), and then in April 2000 major surgery to remove remains of an abdominal tumour.

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Explains that he found a lump while having a bath.

Explains that he found a lump while having a bath.

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It was probably about September '98 and I was having a bath one evening, and I've always been brought up by my mum sort of to do self test myself, to test my testicles for testicular cancer. And sort of, I found this lump on my testicle and I was just sort of shot to my feet, I knew exactly what it was. At that point, which was, and I found this lump which felt like a lump inside the testicle itself as opposed to anything else. And definitely I had never felt anything like that before. So what I did, I made an appointment the following day, I wanted to get straight to the doctor and to get things, get things checked out. I just knew what it was but obviously first I had to go to the doctor.

 

Suggests that an unhealthy lifestyle is probably the main cause of testicular cancer.

Suggests that an unhealthy lifestyle is probably the main cause of testicular cancer.

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Do you ever think about causation and what might have caused all this?

I have thought about it a lot. I used to work with a laptop computer a lot but talking to people who deal with computers and electronics, they felt that the electric fields that might be generated from it certainly isn't strong enough to, to cause testicular cancer. I had started using a mobile phone within probably a year or so of having a cancer and so I thought well maybe that could be it as well. You know within a year of using it here I am I had cancer. So, but obviously the one thing I did do is probably have the mobile phone in my pocket most of the time. So you never know it could be, it could be something from that. 

It could be food. I mean if I was to say it was one thing, one thing only I'd say it was probably our lifestyle in terms of the food we eat now. Probably, certainly we don't eat enough green vegetables which we should be eating every day. The stress we have at work, I was working very long hours at that the time, probably you know nine in the morning till nine at night which I don't think helped, it probably lowered my immune system and that may have been a cause of why I got it. So I think life style is probably, probably the biggest factor in it, which is the life we lead, whether its stress free or very stressful, the food we eat.

 

Recalls that he wasn't sick and that he felt better than he expected during the chemotherapy.

Recalls that he wasn't sick and that he felt better than he expected during the chemotherapy.

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Once the chemotherapy started it was just a case of lying there and really waiting for the effects to, to take hold. I thought I'd probably feel, start feeling sick pretty quickly but throughout the chemotherapy I can honestly say I didn't feel sick once and I was actually really relieved that everything I'd read probably didn't apply to most people. I think the drugs they use now are obviously better now than they have ever been, they are constantly being developed and obviously the one thing they're looking to do is have as minimal an impact on the body as possible. So I wasn't sick once with chemotherapy. I think the closest I came to being sick was possibly the hospital food! But that wasn't necessarily the food but because my taste buds had gone part way through the treatment. That was probably the closest I came to being sick. So the treatment itself, once I'd decided that, I realised this would probably be fine.

 

Explains that he caught an infection because his immune system was affected by chemotherapy.

Explains that he caught an infection because his immune system was affected by chemotherapy.

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Now the one thing that did happen then was I, I did feel very ill for a day or two and I really started to heat up and that was probably the worst experience of the chemotherapy itself. Which was my immune system had apparently dropped so low that I think I'd caught something, a bug or something and my body was actually not, my body was unable to defend itself against this. What actually happened I took myself into hospital, to the local hospital to, to be checked over and they gave me something called, I think it's barrier nursing, which is basically everyone who sees me including the nurses must be completely frocked up and plastic gloves on and masks on because they needed to treat me as soon as they could and as quickly as they could. So I was given treatments over a couple of days with antibiotics. And this is I guess the final effect of the chemotherapy was I, at that stage my white blood cells, I think my immune system had come down very low which was obviously an effect of the chemotherapy. 

So although I tried to keep myself away from people when I could because obviously the chances of catching something is out there all the time, I'd obviously caught something from someone, which I've seen, made me go into hospital. And I was there for about two or three days and then the antibiotics worked, I felt better and then I slowly recovered after that.

 

Recalls that in spite of having insurance he had financial difficulties.

Recalls that in spite of having insurance he had financial difficulties.

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What's been the cost implications of all this, has it been very expensive for you, in terms of work lost and'?

Yeah. I was actually very lucky, the first time I had cancer I'd recently taken out a critical illness policy, which actually gave me a pay out. And that actually enabled me to change my jobs, become self employed, give me some savings, just in case anything further did happen. As it happened those savings came in very useful because I had six months off work without being able to earn.

But I also had an income protection policy, which gave me a regular income throughout, you know, the time I was actually off work. There are some state benefits to come out as well, so a combination of those when I, I managed to survive but it, it certainly hits you financially and its only really now I'm catching up on the time I've had off. Because I ran up some debts at the time just to be able to live. I had credit cards etc., and it does take a while to get back into things. I think employed people probably have the advantage as long as they've got protection at work but it was, it was a hard time.

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