Most people feel overwhelmed when they are told they have cancer even if the chance of cure is very high. Many different emotions can arise which can cause confusion and frequent changes of mood. Men may experience feelings such as fear, resentment and anger. This does not mean, however, that they are not coping with the illness. Treatment for testicular cancer happens very quickly and any men may be just finishing college or university, starting out in life with a new job or may have a partner or young family. During treatment their everyday life will be put on hold and it is not until this treatment has finished and they are not attending a hospital daily that the full realisation of what they have been through may hit them.
Some men will find that having family and friends who understand what they have been through will be enough to help them adjust. Others may find that they may benefit from talking to someone through counselling. There is nothing to be ashamed of in seeking counselling and often men will find that they can talk to a stranger more easily about aspects of their life, fears and anxieties more easily than a family member or friend.
The Orchid Testicular Cancer Telephone Counselling Service
Discovering that you have testicular cancer often comes out of the blue and your initial reaction to the diagnosis may well be one of shock and then apprehension about the consequences of having cancer.It isn’t always easy to confide in family and friends about how you feel and this is where it can be really helpful to be able to talk freely and in confidence to one of our Counsellors about what has happened and how it has affected you.As well as having to deal with your own feelings and fears, you may also find that having had a cancer diagnosis and treatment impacts on your relationships in unexpected ways, adding stress when you feel least able to cope with it. Whether at the point of diagnosis, after treatment or because of recurring disease, being able to explore your concerns with someone who understands how challenging a cancer diagnosis can be will allow you to discover your best way to confront what has happened to you.
Orchid currently offers a testicular cancer telephone service and after an initial confidential discussion with one of the Orchid Male Cancer Information Nurses and if you both feel that counselling will be of benefit, you will be contacted by the Counselling Co-ordinator. However, if, after talking to the Orchid Male Cancer Information Nurse or the Co-ordinator, you both decide that counselling is not the right solution for you at the moment, we will do our best to refer you to another, more appropriate service. We are here to support you however we can.The role of the Counselling Co-ordinator is to explain the service in further detail, to answer any questions or concerns you may have, to find out when you are free on a regular weekly basis and let you know the name of your Counsellor.It is important that you can be in a quiet private place to take this call and that you will not be disturbed during your future sessions. Once you have begun counselling, you can contact the Counselling Co-ordinator if you have any queries, for example needing to change the time of your session. The Counselling Co-ordinator will let your Counsellor know.
At the moment this service is under review and no more referrals are being taken.
Talking to children
Deciding what and how much to tell children about your cancer is a very personal choice. No parent wants to tell their children they have cancer. Instead every parent wants to protect their children from life’s uncertainties. However, a diagnosis of cancer affects the whole family. Children may notice a change in routine or pick up on your tension or anxiety, even if you think you are hiding it. Therefore, it is important to consider your children’s age and maturity level. By age-appropriately talking to your children, the entire family will be better placed to cope together. Providing accurate information can be a powerful way of helping children to feel more in control of the situation. Knowing more about cancer and its treatments can take some of the fear away. Most people feel better when they know what to expect and children are no exception. Honest communication during childhood establishes a pattern for life. Being open with your children sets an example that you are willing to discuss difficult challenges and situations which can be particularly helpful during teenage years.
This section contains a video called “Fathers and Sons” introduced by Alexander Ludwig, star of the Hunger Games and Vikings, the video is a humorous take on a serious message: showing a father making numerous attempts to bring up the awkward subject of testicular cancer with his sons. The video cleverly demonstrates there should not be any awkwardness because the sons are more than willing to “talk balls” with their father!
To accompany the video we have a new booklet “Talking to your children about cancer” for families affected by male cancers. Topics include why communication is important, what kind of information should be communicated to children, when and how should children be told and making sure children have the right facts. Download the booklet here. Talking to your children about cancer – for families affected by male cancers
A Holistic Approach
Often following treatment a holistic approach is needed. This means optimising health and well-being, staying healthy through exercise, diet and a positive mental outlook.There are organisations that can help you access holistic treatments such as Maggie’s Centres
Talking to other men who have been through similar treatment is also extremely beneficial either face to face or via on-line forums. For more details of such groups please see below.
In some men especially those who have had chemotherapy treatment, the chemotherapy may reduce their testosterone levels. Testosterone is essential for maintaining a number of aspects of a man’s health and low levels can make men feel low in mood as well as affect them physically. For more information on testosterone levels and replacement therapy please click here.
The surgery was on the 19th of August and it’s now the 21st. The first night was bad but I think that was probably the anaesthetics. My groin is very tight in my bikini line and the cut is just below my belt line on the fat pad above the penis. My girlfriend being a nurse changed the dressing and was very pleased with the cut as it was very neat and clean. When she removed the dressing a lot of belly hairs were coming off but I could not feel a thing as the wound area was still numb. I can walk around today but cannot fully extend yet as my groin is very tight and painful. The numbness is starting to wear off and the wound is starting to itch a bit. I am sleeping on the sofa at the moment to make it easier to go to the toilet and just in case I get knocked in my wound or groin while we are asleep. Still not tried stairs yet or showered. Going to try stairs later today and shower tomorrow morning. I had to explain to my 2 year old daughter to be careful as she does like to use me as a human bouncy castle!
One thing I think men would worry about is feeling like less of a man. I would tell them that I feel no different in any way, except for the fact that I have a nice scar.
Message to partners. I think you have the hardest job of all. Men are strange to get your head around! You’ll help us most by listening and being around during the major treatment stages.
I was scared to death. I thought I was going to be a freak and never get a girlfriend. I decided to take one step at a time and not look too far ahead. This helped me to not worry about future events that were not within my control. Plan on what you are going to do after finishing treatment, treatment is hard but it can be made all the easier if you feel you have something to look forward to after treatment.
Do it together – or, at least, do it the way that will work for you. Every cancer is different so don’t go looking on the internet too much and only speak with fellow sufferers if you think it will be a good thing for you. Stay strong, be positive and be true to yourself. Don’t worry about the days when you are low and be honest about how you feel
I’d like to say that I’m now travelling the world in sandals preaching to everyone how my life has changed after Cancer, but in reality, it only changed it for a couple of months and then you always seem to get back in the same routine you had previously. Now over 7 months later, it’s beginning to take a more prominent role in my life as I am now realizing how lucky I am to be a survivor when so many don’t manage that. I only wish that I was a radically different person now, to who I was before my diagnosis, and I do feel guilty that I don’t feel that it happened that way for me like it does for so many others affected. Maybe I just haven’t really come to terms with it yet and just need to talk to someone professional about why I feel like that, because I’ve never really had the opportunity to delve into it with someone that way. Or maybe it’s just my way of coping with it.
I got through my experience by talking to my family and friends about what I was going though. The worst thing you can do is bottle things up and not talk. To lose a big part of your masculinity is a major shock, however by being honest and talking openly about my feelings not only helped me get through it, but it also helped my family and friends come to terms with my illness. Throw in a little bit of humour as well with your mates and believe me, this is a perfect way to deal with the emotions that are associated with having cancer. I know it’s an old cliché, but laughter really is the best form of medicine.
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
For video clips of men discussing coping with testicular cancer please click the images below.
To read personal stories of men who have been affected and treated for testicular cancer please click here
To download a copy of our Testicular Cancer Booklet please click here
An excellent website with a large Facebook forum with many men sharing their experience and providing helpful tips on how to cope with treatment.
Telephone: 020 7840 7840 Fax: 020 7840 7841 Questions/helpline: 0808 808 00 00
A huge source of information for anyone who has been affected by cancer including support services.
Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres www.maggiescentres.org
Telephone: 0141 341 5675 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help centres, run by professionals, who can discuss any aspect of cancer. Also run support groups and weekly sessions in relaxation, stress management, nutrition and health.
Northern Ireland Action Cancer www.actioncancer.org
Telephone: 028 9080 3344 Fax: 028 9080 3356 Email: email@example.com
A charity which offers one to one counselling.
Irish Cancer Support www.cancer.ie/support/
Irish cancer website, with numerous links to support and information.
Regional Charities /Support
St Bartholomews Hospital Testicular Cancer Support Group (Meets last Monday of every month).
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
It’s in the Bag
Sue Brand 0117 342 3472 or Pete Styles 07771710733
The Robin Cancer Trust
It’s on the ball
Phone: 01603 288115 E-mail: email@example.com
The Male Uprising in Guernsey (Male Cancer) http://mug.gg/
T: 07911 721 614
Telephone: 02920 482 000 Freephone helpline: 0808 808 10 10
Provide an information service on all aspects of cancer, and practical and emotional support for cancer patients and their families. Freephone Cancer Helpline staffed by nurses, social workers and counsellors.
Testicular Cancer Resource Centre 🙁 TC-NET) http://www.acor.org/TCR
A huge international (American), resource website covering all aspects of testicular cancer. Some information will be slightly different than the UK.
Last review November 2019. Next review November 2020.
References available on request.