Pauls Story (diagnosed 54)
When and where did you first notice signs of your cancer? Was there something out of the ordinary that prompted you to check yourself/ see your GP?
In 2009 I felt that one testicle had changed and felt different to the other. There was also a few twinges of pain.
I saw a locum GP who dismissed my concerns and said it was probably a groin strain and implied that I had wasted his time.
Over the next 2 years I experienced increasing levels of pain and I finally felt the need to see a GP again in Nov 2011, who recognised the symptoms and arranged an emergency hospital appointment.
Did you check yourself regularly or were you aware of the signs and symptoms of male cancer before you were diagnosed?
I knew enough to check periodically and watch out for changes.
How did you feel when you were first diagnosed? Did your feelings change during your treatment?
I was worried because of the time lag between 2009 and 2011, which could have been catastrophic.
Please give us a brief explanation of your treatment, any side effects you experienced and subsequent follow up procedure?
I had an orchidectomy in Dec 2011. In Jan 2012 they spotted a secondary tumour in my stomach and I then had a programme of chemo (Cisplatin and Etoposide) over the subsequent 4 months delivered as an in-patient.
Main side effects of the chemo were – nerve damage to feet, hands and ears, mouth ulcers, constipation,
Was there a particularly difficult or distressing part of your treatment or your cancer journey?
The worst aspect was spending time in a cancer ward receiving chemo, where I met many cancer patients with terminal illnesses. Seeing their extreme suffering at such close quarters was very upsetting.
In terms of my personal experience, the worst aspect was dealing with the continued uncertainty.
What is the most important thing your family and friends did to support you?
Showed concern but gave me the space to deal with it in my own way.
Can you describe a particular Low/High point during your treatment?
Low point – seeing fellow in-patients at the end of their tether with the depair, pain and fear of death.
High point – getting the all-clear.
Do you believe the experience has changed you as a person? If so, in what way?
1 Coming to terms with my own mortality, which has made me a more content person.
2 Feeling very motivated to help cancer sufferers by being actively involved with charities, especially CRUK.
3 Feeling more compassion for people who are in extremis, and impatience with people who whinge for no reason!
If any, what medical or emotional support would you like to be offered in the future to support you after your treatment ends?
I would have benefited from some support in coping with the emotional/psychological fallout.
What would be your message to other men affected by male cancer? What would be your message to their partners?
To men – Don’t be victim – take control and responsibility for your treatment.
To partners – Be mindful and supportive of the emotional dimension to the cancer journey.