Our Chief Executive, Rebecca Porta meets professional artist Denis Taylor, who was diagnosed and treated for a malignant tumour on his penis.
Denis – tell us about your experience of penile cancer.
First I thought I may have had a slight infection. I attended a Sex Clinic who diagnosed Cancer. After amputation and (experimental) plastic surgery. I was ‘cured’. It happened so fast, I didn’t get time to come to terms with the fact that I had only months to live without the severe treatment. There is no pain with penile cancer, no adverse effects on normal functions. This is what makes it such a nasty condition.
Many people find it helpful to share their experience of cancer with others who are going through a similar situation. Did you find it helpful to talk to other men?
Men don’t share personal problems in the same way that women do. Once in hospital however my ‘fellows’ showed the kind of support that only a man can give another. Laughing through adversity was one of the ‘support’ factors for me.
What advice would you give men going through this experience?
Be aware of what will happen after cure. If caught early enough penile cancer can be cured effectively. The psychological and social economic fall-out can be as (if not more) devastating than the cancer itself. It is imperitive to find other males who have survived to ask them of their experiences and their solutions. Fore-warned is fore-armed.
How did you feel once you received the all-clear?
Confused, bewildered and alone. Isolated with huge questions hanging over my head about sex, my business, whether I could carry on, should I tell my Bankers? I felt the penile cancer had destroyed me not only as a man but as a person.
We know that a diagnosis of cancer can have a big impact, not just on the patient, but also on their family and friends. How did it affect your relationships?
Badly. I suffered with extreme depressions. Not only post operative but serious issues, such as loss of self-esteem with MDD.
Excellent care of healthcare professionals made a difference to your experience. Are there any other services you think men (or their partners / families) might find helpful?
Yes..primary information. Post and/or pre-operative, is essentially the key issues. Honest and pragmatic statements made by Men who know whats what, perhaps even offer methods on how one can overcome the ‘fallout.’ Financial institional tolerance. Personal Counselling can help but only if it is offered by them who have insight and knowledge about penile cancer specifically.
And looking to the future … what do you want to do?
To bring awareness to GP’s and to introduce penile cancer and its main causes into the private and public forums. To change institutional attitudes towards males with cancer per se. To contribute to this mission by dedicating all my creative abilities to it.