Patrick was 32, fit, healthy and really enjoying his social and working life – he had no reason to think that there was anything of concern or that his life may change.
In January 2021, during Lockdown, he noticed a rash on his penis, but like many couldn’t get in to see a doctor and simply had a telephone consultation, with a referral given to a sexual health clinic. As penile cancer is fairly rare, with little awareness amongst the medical profession, he was given a steroid cream to treat an infection.
Several months later, Patrick noticed a lump. However, he was in the midst of grief as his father had just died and added to this, Covid had an impact on his business – a children’s care home. Patrick just put his health to the back of his mind, as there was only so much he could deal with. However, during a night out in July, he noticed some worrying changes – but due to not being in pain, again he pushed it to the back of his mind, thinking it might go away.
In October, Patrick was fortunate that he saw a practitioner who knew it was more serious and referred him to hospital for a biopsy. Patrick then became fearful and angry that awareness of penile cancer is so low – he was also angry with himself. Following a consultation, he was overwhelmed and knew he needed support, although still trying to be positive.
Patrick remembers his follow up appointment with the specialist very clearly. It was, what he dreaded, penile cancer. He also needed to be strong for his partner, who was in total anguish. The consultant he saw was great and all Patrick really remembers were the words ‘we can sort this’, with surgery booked in for the New Year.
While in the waiting room, I saw an Orchid poster, taking note of the number, but left it for a few weeks. Just before my operation at a particularly low time, I decided to pluck up the courage and ring their specialist nurse helpline with my opening words, that perhaps they have heard often ‘I don’t know why I am calling you’. Rob, their nurse gave me that sense of calm and support, which was like a warm hug and I knew I had done the right thing. He also provided me with a positive insight and linked me into a patient of a similar age and we became buddies supporting each other. I was also introduced to a community network, who really understand and who I can be totally open and vulnerable with.
Orchid have continued to be there – Rob contacted me after the surgery, setting up some counselling which was so needed – although I had the treatment, I still needed to talk about it. Orchid funded online counselling, as I needed to process everything.
Rob is my guardian angel and I so wanted to support them – as a musician I put on a gig to raise vital funds so that Rob and the team can continue to be there and give the positivity and calmness which both Rob and they have instilled in me.”