Simon Feldman

Testicular cancer

Simon Feldman in an Orchid running vestIn July 2004, and just three weeks after my 20th birthday, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer whilst studying and travelling in Australia. When I should have been having the best time of my life, I was in fact faced with the prospect of living with an illness and possibly not recovering from it.

As soon as the word ‘cancer’ was mentioned, my life changed. I lost that naivety that comes with being young and that feeling of not having anything serious to worry about. The tumour was removed but the disease had spread to my stomach, so I had to come home and take the illness on.

I was treated by Orchid’s co-founder Professor Tim Oliver. His research, skill and expertise in TC led him to deciding I needed three courses of chemotherapy to have a chance in beating the disease. Just when I thought I’d reached the worst of things, the chemo began to tear me apart. Words can’t explain what it is like to go through the treatment. I am still haunted by it, but not broken by it. But thanks to Professor Oliver, I made a full recovery and was allowed a second chance to get on with my life, which I took gladly.

However in 2008 I was told that the cancer had returned. I endured another operation and a course of chemotherapy under the guidance of Professor Oliver and after a few tough months I was once again
given the ‘all clear’.

Orchid has done a lot for my future, please get involved and to do something for theirs.

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?

I had just turned 20 and was in Australia, on a houseboat with some friends from University, when I clumsily knocked myself on a fence on the boat. I was in some pain after the accident and after two days it hadn’t subsided. I got myself checked out by a doctor when we got off the boat and was then told to get an ultrasound the same day. I hadn’t even considered it could be cancer. After the ultrasound, I was asked to see another doctor at the end of the day who said it was 60 per cent cancer. The next day a doctor told me it was 70 per cent. The next day, while in Surfer’s Paradise, I was told it was cancer and my world fell apart.

Did you check yourself regularly or were you aware of the signs and symptoms of male cancer before you were diagnosed?

Yes and no. I checked myself but that not that regularly. I was aware of the signs though.

How did you feel when you were first diagnosed? Did your feelings change during your treatment?

It was a very strange feeling and at the beginning I think I went into shock. It was all very quick as a few days after diagnosis I had the tumor removed and my body was changed forever. It was just torn apart and it was difficult to see any positives. The treatment came several months later after I had few months uncertainty of how the next stage of beating the illness would work. The chemo took me down a very dark journey and I was extremely low. It was a hard, hard time.

Partners – keep strong and try and make your partner laugh and focus on the future and good times.

Please give us a brief explanation of your treatment

Three courses of chemo at the London Clinic as a residential; patient. I caught a cold in between which put me in hospital for a further week as I couldn’t fight it off as my immune system was destroyed. I had a separate course of chemo as the cancer returned in 2008, This was an extremely difficult time as I just felt numb at the thought that it had returned and couldn’t comprehend it. However, this helped me largely get over the whole experience and come to terms with it.

Was there a particularly difficult or distressing part of your treatment or your cancer journey?

Having my body changed and feeling sick all of the time from the chemo. You do feel alone and it seems like you are ill all the time. It’s difficult when people tell you ‘you’ll be ok’ as they can’t quantify it and feels a worthless thing to say. It’s understandable they don’t know what to say, but it is extremely difficult to hear.

What is the most important thing your family and friends did to support you?

Just to be with me and keep me company and tell me about their news to keep me occupied. Looking at photos cheered me up as well.

Do you believe the experience has changed you as a person? If so, in what way?

I am an extremely determined person and I use my experiences of cancer to drive me forward and pursue my ambitions. I try not to take life too seriously and try and realise that other people have tough and in many cases, tougher times that me.

What would be your message to other men affected by male cancer? What would be your message to their partners?

It’s a long, bumpy journey but one in which you will get through and one which there will be a light at the end. There are no words that can take the pain and anguish away but hopefully the thought of family and loved ones can be the support to help pull you through.

Partners – keep strong and try and make your partner laugh and focus on the future and good times.

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