Surviving Testicular Cancer
It was on the 13th of June 1985, and I had made a brief appointment with Doctor Dixon in The Brighton Hill GP Surgery (it is funny how clear all of this still is). Just to have a quick chat.
I made the first appointment at 9am, because I had a very important business meeting at my company in Basingstoke. I had made the appointment because I had a swelling in my left testicle, which I had put down to being a hernia, as I had been moving furniture around the previous weekend.
It became clear, very early in my appointment with Doctor Dixon, that my business meeting was actually, not that important, and that I had much more compelling appointment at The Basingstoke Hospital.
I had been admitted to a hospital ward before lunch, and was told that I would be operated on first thing the following morning (did anyone mention NHS waiting lists?). I remember very clearly the night before, because everything had happened so quick. It seemed only a few minutes ago that I was going to see my doctor and then go to a meeting – now I had been all checked in and would be in an operating theatre in less that 24 hours after my “quick chat” with my GP!
I remember the date very clearly – it was my 28th birthday!!!
I had a disturbed night, unsurprisingly, and was woken early, had a shave, which was not done by me, nor was it in the normal facial area, then off to theatre to sleep.
I awoke sometime after lunch. I was not in pain, I did not feel any different. The surgeon came to say hello, and to tell me that he had cut out a malignant tumour, and with it, my left testicle (glad that I had kids already).
Now the hard part… I had to go home to face the family who would all tell me that “everything was going to be OK”. I had to wait a week for the result to come back from Birmingham University (where my bits were sent to) and I remember the phone call as if it was yesterday. All the family were sat in the front room and I was on the phone, about to discover my future – or even if I had one… Well, “everything was not OK”.
The cancer had spread and that I needed to start a dose of chemotherapy as soon as possible – like tomorrow!!! The whole telephone conversation was a bit of a blur, but all through my chemotherapy I remembered an (off the cuff) remark that the surgeon said – at the end of the call he said “Don’t worry, all will be fine…” (not OK, but fine).
The chemotherapy now seems just to be a bad dream – but a bad dream it remains. I can remember when I sat in my car in Portsmouth, and combed my hair and almost all of it came away in the comb. I remember being bald and all the fun with the NHS wigs, and of course, the barber, who had to try to make me look human.
My primary location was at The Royal South Hants Hospital in Southampton. It overlooked one of HM Prisons… but who were actually the prisoners? The most painful memories were when the needle was injected into the top of my wrist every three weeks and then it stayed
there for a week, whilst platinum and other things were pumped into me. To this day, I am not sure what they all were but they seemed to have worked.
I remember the two “Chemo Nurses” who used to inject the ‘stuff’ into me, and then stay with me whilst it made it’s way around my body – and then, ultimately, made me as sick as a pig for endless hours. The nurses, every last one of them, were angels who fell in love with every boy who came in, and we, in turn fell in love with them. The nurses got the short straw because we used to break their hearts – usually by dying and just not being strong enough to beat the disease. The nurses never learnt; another boy came in and they fell in love again, and again.
One thing that chemotherapy gives you is a routine. One week in hospital, two weeks at home recovering, and by the time you feel a bit better – back you go into hospital for yet another bash. This routine went on and on for an eternity, or so it felt, but in the new year (1986) I started to go for scans to see if the ‘markers’ were moving, or getting smaller, or whatever. This made a small change to the routine, but it really just meant more time in hospital, and time to raise your hopes, only for them to be dashed again and again.
I remember that it was in the spring (1986) that I was told that everything was looking good. It was Professor Whitehouse who told me that I was almost “repaired” but just to make sure, I could have one more dose of chemo – oh happy days. Everything else was a bit of an anti-climax after I was given the all clear… almost a year to the day, which meant that it was going to be my birthday again. Now this year would definitely be better than 1985.
There were four of us who were in our ward, James, David, Alan and me. I will never forget the other three, because they were three guys who broke the nurses heart…
Ian Raising Awareness
Lord Ian Broughall and his team deliver the message of how important it is for young men between the ages of 18 and 30 to regularly check their testicles for lumps by producing videos and holding events to raise awareness.
Ian was born in The Bishops Avenue, London and then moved to Cambridge at the age of 10. His mother left their home when Ian was 12 years old and he was then beaten and abused by his father and stepmother. At the age of 13 Ian left home and at 14 he joined the Junior Leaders Army Regiment.
Ian was first married in 1977 and had two children. His son Kevin was born in 1978 and his daughter Kirsty in 1981. When Kevin and Kirsty were in their late teens, Ian divorced and in June 1985 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
In 1988, Ian started working with Nokia and travelled with his work. This included living and working in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Finland, Germany, Fort Worth (USA), Australia, Dubai, New Zealand, Indonesia and The Philippines. In 2001, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and in 2006 moved to Cambridge (UK) in 2006. Since moving back to England, Ian has worked along with Mr Bob Champion many times in fund raising events.
One of the charity events that Ian shared with us was held on Sunday, 9th September 2012 at the ‘Norwegian Wings over North Weald Fun Day and Fly-in‘ where they raised funds for Cancer Research UK and Herts Air Ambulance.