Why does your alarm clock give you the option to snooze? I was woken up 13 times in 20 minutes, I was still late for work and my phone screen had a lovely new crack right down the middle of it. This was the hangover to end all hangovers. In truth, throwing my phone across the room on Thursday morning was probably more of a reaction to the news I had been told on Wednesday. For the first time since being told, I was angry about having testicular cancer.
The copious amounts of rum and brandy the night before added fuel to the fire. And gave me a right splitting headache! One of my initial reactions was to get well and truly trolleyed. I’m talking heroic, wet yourself and lose a few brain cells kind of drunk. My secondary reaction was to regret that decision. I needed it then but I don’t need it now. Pretty much the story of every Friday night and Saturday morning since I’ve been old enough to drink. Will I ever learn? Doubt it!
The Night Before
In the previous blog (The Initial Reaction) I spoke about how important it is to talk to others. I spoke to my friends before pouring my first drink. The trickiest part about this was deciding which way to tell them. Do you send a WhatsApp group message? Is that too impersonal? Do you call them one-by-one and repeat yourself each time? Do you create a blog so that you can update everyone all at once, in one single place? Perhaps the last idea isn’t a bad one…
To be fair, after you tell one or two people, the news spreads and others start to contact you instead. I love my group of friends to pieces and always have. But the night before proved just how lucky I am to have such a solid, supportive and family-like group of spectacular people in my circle of chums. It almost moves me to tears just writing that!
It wasn’t long before they all found out. Their reaction was beautiful. Within hours of them hearing the news, my amigos dropped what they were doing instantly to come and make sure I was okay. They got the supplies in and threw me the wildest party in quite some time! All across a Zoom call of course (wink, wink). We drank, sang songs, played games and spoke at length over whether or not a prosthetic testicle would float more than a real one. Silly things like that really help to normalise the situation and take your mind off the gloom of it all.
The point is, at first I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to tell my mates, or anyone at all really. I was a little bit embarrassed and didn’t want to cause a fuss. But it was totally and completely the right decision. If you are going through something similar, I urge you to communicate! You don’t have to go through this alone and your loved ones want to be there for you, so let them!
The Follow Up Call
After a greasy breakfast and several trips to the bathroom, the hangover eventually settled and I began to feel semi human again. Sometime in the afternoon I received the follow up call from the urologist. He basically repeated what was said previously, so I had another opportunity to take in the information post-shock.
On this call I also found out the date of my operation – Wednesday 31 March at 12:30pm.
This will be the day I walk into hospital with 2 human testicles and walk out with just 1 human one and a silicone one. Getting a date is weird. It kind of makes it definitive – like this is actually happening now. It was all a bit surreal before but now I have an actual date for my operation it’s all starting to feel very real – and quick! Just 2 weeks after finding out, I am going to have it out. No messing about!
The urologist tells me that I must go for a COVID-19 test 4 days before my operation and then strictly isolate. At the time of writing this, the restrictions have been lifted so that up to 6 people can meet outside and play sports. I still can’t go anywhere or see anyone until after my op, which is a load of balls (excuse the pun) but it is what it is!
Good News: Test Results
We then talk about my test results and I find out my first bit of good news! The chest x-ray is completely clear and shows no signs of cancer. Boom! Check that off the list. Next, I’m told that there are some markers in my blood that provide more confirmation that the tumour is indeed cancerous. However, the levels of these markers are not worrying and the urologist tells me they match the sort of levels they would expect from cancer in the very early stages. Second boom!
In short, I do indeed have cancer, but the signs show that I have caught it very early and it doesn’t seem to have spread anywhere else. In his opinion, the urologist thinks the operation will be a simple one and that I should be back on my feet within a fortnight. I cannot tell you how happy I am about this!
It’s been said a few times already across the 4 blogs so far, but I cannot stress this enough, if you find a lump then call your doctor!
I am not out of the woods yet. I won’t know if any further aftercare is required following my op until after it has happened. But right now, the signs look good and the guy responsible for removing one of my balls reckons this will be a run-of-the-mill type of operation with no complications. If this is the case, and touch wood it is, it will be because I acted quickly and I called my doctor within weeks of finding the lump. I instruct, beg, urge and command you to do the same. It’s really simple. Just call it in fellas, it may save your life.
To end the call, the urologist suggested I do some of my own research and read up on the statistics involved. He said this would put my mind at ease and prepare me for the operation. He was right. You may think that reading up on the condition will have the opposite effect, making you more nervous and upset. It made me feel more comfortable with it all and accept the situation.
It also gave me tremendous amounts of hope and was the first influence of me starting this blog. Reading and writing about the subject allowed me to understand it more and not be so scared. Better the devil you know, right? You can find lots of information and helpful stats on the Testicular Cancer page. If you don’t have time to read through this all, I have cherry-picked a few facts and stats that made me feel a whole lot better about having testicular cancer.
- 91% survive testicular cancer for 10+ years
- 95% survive testicular cancer for 5+ years
- 99% survive testicular cancer for 1+ years
Keep Reading – Surgery is Around the Corner!
Thanks again for reading and keeping up with the story! Now all I have to do is wait for surgery, the next blog will be about how to deal with the waiting time. Please come back and give that a read, and also please share this blog with as many people as you can. The feedback so far has been amazing, I hope to keep pushing this to as many men across the world as possible. I’ll talk to you again soon!
Ian you are amazing! I love reading this, your honesty and your humour are brilliant. Good luck on Wednesday all the onboarding team will be right behind you – you’ll sail (sorry for an onboarding joke!) through this and come out of it with much more than just a plastic ball! Take Care Janet x
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