I'll never forget the day I was diagnosed with cancer, it was the 7th...or was it the 8th of March? Anyway, let's not nitpick dates. I'd previously been to see my GP in January about a couple of pea-sized lumps on my bastard right testicle, "Don't worry, they're cysts" he told me, "but I'll send you for a scan anyway" panic over, I got on with my life and ignored them, and I foolishly ignored the fact my scan date had been and gone and I hadn't heard anything. Still, I wasn't worried, they felt like cysts to him and he's a medical professional! Time passed, the lumps turned into a mass, and things were getting a bit painful down there. I knew these were no longer cysts, I had kind of expecting Testicular Cancer in my life at some point, I'd previously worked on a popular Daytime TV show who had warned me that being the first born male and having been born with an un-descended testicle, I regularly checked, I was high risk, but even knowing this didn't send me running back to my GP.
That was all well until a painful time in Sainsbury's (other supermarkets are available), where I must have incorrectly put one foot in front of the other and YANK, cue excruciating pain, more pain than I'm sure I've bared witness to in my life, something had tugged somewhere and I was in agony, I limped to the back of the store where I sat down to catch my breath, I knew then, I should go back to my GP.
Note - Hi Reader! If your sitting back waiting or ignoring something regarding your own health, get checked out, chase it up, do something, be persistent, don't take no for an answer and don't just let things balloon like I did.
Back in his office, he reassured me it was probably just a cyst but he'd have a little check anyway. I've never been one to expose my genitals to near strangers but I felt no shyness around him, it was after all my health and I couldn't afford to be too reserved. So I removed my jeans, he gave it a squeeze and I saw sheer panic scrawl across his face. Now, I won't lie, this scared the shit out of me. I knew it was probably bad, but for it to be actually happening right there and then, scary stuff. He sat me down, comforted me, and told me to head straight to hospital for an ultrasound, he handed me a letter on which he hand wrote "Suspected cellular mitosis". I left there a shaking mess, I googled what he had written, it meant cancer in a more discreet medical way. I rang my mum in tears, I'd told her I had previously been to my GP about it and it was nothing to worry about, so it wasn't completely out of the blue, but I told her what he said, she's a medical professional so she knew what it meant, then I headed straight for the hospital.
On my arrival at the Royal London, I got, in hindsight, the best result you could ask for in this situation..."we're busy, come back tomorrow"... This blessing in disguise meant I had all day to worry about it but it allowed my parents to make the journey to London the next day so I didn't go through it alone. I went home that morning a bag of worry and confusion but still hoping it wasn't the big C coming to get me.
The next morning I met my parents and headed for my Ultrasound, the Royal London is all relatively new so this filled me with some confidence that I was in the best hands. I dropped my trousers again, got lubed up by the poor ultrasound tech and waited to hear the bad news. The bad news was confirmed when he told me he needed to get a doctor straight away. On her arrival, she scanned me, and confirmed that with the absence of trauma or infection that it was probably bad, she then, and this is the most scary bit for me, scanned the rest of my abdomen; I'd never really thought about it spreading, I'd just assumed it was there and that was it, chop it off and get on with life, annoyingly cancer isn't as straight forward as that so I was bricking it. Luckily for me, she couldn't see anything else there, she was very comforting and reassuring but I'd need more scans to find out so I was sent for a CT scan, a strangely exciting prospect, I've never been in one before, that was until they told me I needed a cannula to do so, now, I'm not a great fan of needles, who would be? My body has a wee panic should anything sharp try and leave a plastic tube in me and rightly so.
I must add at this point, that my girlfriend was currently living in Dubai at the time, the hardest part of that day was, by far, telling her the news; I don't like to worry people, so it broke my heart to tell her and she flew home the very next day. She's been my rock throughout my treatment.
So with a few hundred blood tests, a CT scan, a bucket of tears and the reassurance that this wasn't going to kill me I was scheduled a date for surgery and then did went with my parents to do what, is only natural in the situation, went and ate pizza. A strange calm came over me at this point, I felt in safe hands, I knew to an extent what would happen. Survival rates for Testicular Cancer caught early are very high, so I was in a strange way, at peace with what just happened, plus, the sun was out, that made everything a bit better...