My name is Chris and this is my story:
26th April 2010 was the date I was diagnosed with testicular cancer; however, my journey began 3 months prior to that when I noticed ‘something’ not normal for me.
I was asked recently how I noticed this ‘thing’ and I really don’t know. I’m not going to pretend I was checking myself regularly like all men should but I was lucky that I did notice.
I didn’t mess about and luckily had private healthcare at the time with my employer so went to see a urologist in the January. I was examined thoroughly but the urologist said he could not feel anything abnormal and sent me away with a feeling of relief.
A month later, I thought things were changing in some way so decided to go back again. I was examined once more and again told nothing seemed out of place and went away.
I left it two months before I decided to go back for a third time when I thought things were changing again and the area I could feel seemed to be getting larger. It was now April. This time during my examination the urologist said he could feel something. My brain couldn’t decide whether to feel relieved or scared. I got myself dressed, sat down and was given the news that I had a tumour which would need removing. I was sent for immediate blood tests which came back high and had an ultrasound which confirmed a cancerous tumour was present.
I felt my life had been turned upside down in a matter of a few hours.
I had the operation to remove the tumour the following week and everything went very well.
Soon after, I had a CT scan to assess whether there was any sign of any spread of the cancer. The scan came back clear except for a lymph node that was slightly larger than normal, however, not dangerously.
My consultant decided to monitor me every 3 months using usual blood tests and 6 monthly scans.
Everything was good. I had fully recovered from the operation, my 1 year old was growing up fast, my wife fell pregnant with our second daughter (although I didn’t know I would be treated to another girl until the birth) and I got a new job.
However, in November 2010, my HCG tumour marker began to raise, nothing silly but enough to trigger a response from my consultant to start monitoring monthly rather than quarterly. Month after month my HCG reading raised and it was decided I would need another CT scan. The scan showed that the small lymph node mentioned earlier was cancerous and my only option was chemotherapy.
It was now the end of March 2011 and my second daughter was due on 13th April. We also had a feisty 2 year old to keep us busy!
I decided to take a risk and spoke with my consultant about postponing my chemotherapy until after the birth. My consultant reluctantly agreed and, luckily for me, Esme was born on 16th April with my treatment due to start on 28th April.
It gave me 12 days to spend with my new family of 4 before beginning a 9 week course of BEP chemotherapy.
I remember walking into the ward on the first day, completely unprepared for what my life was soon to become. 16 hours a day on a drip for the first 3 days became a harsh reality but I tried to remain focused on what needed to be done and why. My new born baby, my 2 year old daughter and my wife were my inspiration and gave me drive to keep going even when things got really tough. I became neutropenic on all 3 of my cycles meaning I had no form of immune system to defend me from any infections. I had to make an unexpected trip into hospital one evening as an infection had spread through my body and I was put on a drip to ensure it didn’t get as far as my blood stream….I was lucky they caught it early.
My chemotherapy ended on 23rd June 2011 and I remember the feeling to this day. The relief, joy and excitement were overwhelming.
Soon after, I had another scan which showed the lymph node had shrunk and I seemed to have responded to the treatment. Again, the relief was overwhelming.
Slowly but surely I got my life back on track, returning to work and spending as much quality time with my family as humanly possible with the realisation that life can be taken from you at any point.
2 years on and Laila is nearly 4½ with Esme approaching her 2nd birthday. My scan results are all positive, minus a couple of scares, and life is back to normal dare I say.
Chemotherapy unfortunately has many short term side effects as well as long term and some live with me to this day.
However, I believe I have been one of the lucky ones.
Please, remember to check yourself regularly as this thing is a reality and has changed my life forever.