Friday, 8 October 2010

One for the husbands and boyfriends

Laura is one of my lovely friends. Her husband Mike recently had a very frightening cancer scare. He was VERY lucky because he found the lump early and did something about it. He decided to write about his experience to raise awareness on some motoring websites. I thought that it would be good to share Mike's story here too. Men are typically not great at talking about things or going to the doctor so please share this with your other halves. It may just save their life!

Testicular Cancer - My Story
by Mike Shields

This story contains some very detailed personal information about my experience

I’m telling my story as I want you to be aware of what I’ve been through over the last few months. I’m not doing it for sympathy I just want to make you aware of just how important it is to check yourself. Until now I’ve not really done it myself. It was just by chance I noticed a lump!

It doesn’t take much to check yourself once a month and ladies get your men to check themselves.

Please take the time and if you find anything you’re not sure about please see your doctor as soon as possible. It’s quite an embarrassing thing to talk about but please don’t let this stop you.

Unfortunately there's no way of stopping yourself from getting testicular cancer but...
Testicular Cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer,
with cure rates approaching 100% if detected early. Get it sorted!!!

Tuesday 8th June 2010
Just laying on the bed mid afternoon relaxing on our summer holiday in Majorca and for some reason I touched my right testicle and noticed a bit of a lump... Oh shit what can I do? I’m miles away from home.

I mentioned it to my wife and decided to get it seen to as soon as we got back to Bristol.

Saturday 20th June 2010
Having been back for a day my 4 year old daughter is in hospital with breathing problems so my problem goes on hold for a while.

Saturday 3rd July 2010
Sitting in the park having a picnic. I stand up and suddenly it feels as if someone has kicked me as hard as they could in the groin. This reminds me I need to get it sorted!

Thursday 8th July 2010
See a male doctor and discuss the issue. Don’t feel comfortable talking to my usual female doctor at this stage. He tells me I need to have an Ultrasound scan.

Monday 19th July 2010
Didn’t really think it would be that big a deal so went on my own. Arrive 20 minutes early for the appointment and taken straight in for the scan. Exactly the same set up as when my wife had scans for our children so all felt relaxed at first. He scan my right testicle (with the lump) and then checked the other. Then he scanned me on my lower abdomen which I thought was a little strange. Now having had the Op it makes sense... that’s where they made the incision!

5 minutes later he told me the results should be with my doctor within half an hour but wouldn’t say anymore than that. As soon as I left the hospital I called my doctors to try and find out the result.
I was due at work straight after the appointment but just couldn't go in. Instead I went and sat in a park overlooking Bristol for 4 hours with all sorts of things going through my head!!

Finally got a call back from my doctor later that evening but only to say they didn’t have the results back yet. Sleepless night ahead!

Tuesday 20th July 2010
Gone to work today. Needed to try and carry on as normal.
Had a call from my doctor secretary, again late evening saying she had been called out on an emergency and would call me the next day. No news is good news? Another sleepless night.
Wednesday 21st July 2010
Mid morning, at work... finally the call I was waiting for from my doctor. “It’s not the news we wanted I’m afraid” she said. “I’m afraid we’ll need to remove the testicle/lump” She continued with other medical information but it didn’t really sink in.

Called my wife and told her that old saying “No news is good news” on this occasion was… bollocks!

Thursday 22nd July 2010
Had to call my doctor back today and ask her to confirm the diagnosis. “Are you saying I have Testicular Cancer” I asked. “Yes, I’m afraid it looks that way” she said.

At least I know where I am now.

Monday 26th July 2010
Appointment to see Urology specialist. My wife came with me this time as things all seemed a little more serious now. Sitting in the waiting room looking at all the other patients thinking why am I here. Everyone else was so much older than me, although that shouldn’t make a difference. Suddenly panicked thinking I wasn’t going to find out the information I needed. Was it really cancer?

The doctor examined me and confirmed I would need to have the affected testicle removed and I would need to have a CT scan. They can only test for cancer once it has been removed. Something to do with a higher risk of spread if a biopsy is done in situ. Depending on all the results I may need further treatment... Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy and or Monitoring.

He asked if I wanted a prosthetic put in and my immediate reaction was “No thanks. I don’t want anything in me that could go wrong in the future”

I was introduced to a couple of cancer specialists. Had a blood test while they tried to make an appointment for the operation but that department had closed as it was getting late in the day.

Tuesday 27th July 2010
Back at work again and got a call from the cancer specialist giving me a date for the Op... Tuesday 3rd August (next week!!)

Wednesday 28th July 2010
Got a call at 10am asking if I could be at the hospital for 10.30 to have a CT scan. It was a little tight so went in for 12noon instead. Sat in the waiting room with a container of yellow liquid to drink over the next hour. This is when things started to hit home, seeing all the patients in the Oncology Department. This really sweet lady with no hair, I guess from having chemotherapy, said “I bet a drop of gin would help that go down” How right she was!
Then they called me in. It was all rather overwhelming. Took all the metal objects from my pocket and led on the scanner. Had more dye injected into my arm... very strange sensation in my groin area with this. Done, you can go now… so back to work.

Thursday 29th July 2010
Pre-Op today just to check everything is OK to have the Op on Tuesday.

Tuesday 3rd August 2010
The big day, day of the Ochidectomy operation.

Arrived at the hospital just before 12noon. Lots of waiting round today and nothing to eat or drink since 9pm last night.

Last few questions with a nurse then a chat with the surgeon and anaesthetist, who turned out to be one of my customers… small world. Made me feel a little more reassured though.

Finally I was called in at around 4.30 for the Op… last patient of the day. Walked in to the operating theatre, which was a very strange experience. Led on the operating table and then they started hooking me up to things. An injection in the back of my hand and…. The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery area and being asked if I was OK? “a little sore I replied” I was then moved to the recovery ward for a few hours before doing a wee and going home. This is where is all started to go wrong!!! I just couldn’t wee. It was just before 9pm and I was the second to last patient there when the nurse said “OK, you look like a sensible person so go home and if you have any problems call us, your doctor or an ambulance”

Finally in the early hours of the morning I managed a wee.

Wednesday 4th August 2010
Mid morning. Got up to have a wee and felt quite sick. Whilst having a wee I retched and coughed. This ripped at my stitches and hurt like hell!! From that point on couldn’t wee again.

This was also the first time I looked at myself with just one testicle and surprisingly it doesn’t look as odd as I thought it would. It certainly doesn’t feel any different apart from the bruising and now have a 4 inch scar on my lower abdomen.

Thursday 5th August 2010
After a very sleepless night and unable to wee my wife called the doctors who arranged an ambulance to take me in. This completely freaked out my 4 year old daughter when 3 paramedics turned up. I could hear her shouting “Don’t take my daddy” she soon settled down and off I went.

Arrived at the hospital around 9am, was put in the waiting room and would still be there today if I hadn’t called for some help. Suddenly felt very sick, hot and started sweating. At that point someone walked passed so I got their attention and was seen to. Explained all to a nurse who then put in a catheter (not very nice!) I was then left for a couple of hours before a Junior doctor came round and did a full examination. Then back in to the waiting room for another couple of hours, with a bag full of wee just sitting on the floor (not very dignified)

My wife arrived around midday once she had sorted childcare out only to find me sitting totally dejected in the waiting room. She wasn’t best pleased. After making a lot of fuss she got a nurse to come and remove the catheter (again, not very nice!) Was told to drink lots of water over a couple of hours and to try having a wee myself and… nothing.
I was seen again late afternoon by the same junior doctor. The look on her face when she realised it was me again was unbelievable! (a look of not you again!) My wife said we’ve been here since 9am and her response was “If it’s any consolation I’ve been here since 8am without a break” well you can guess our response to that!
Eventually a senior doctor came to see me and said to put the catheter back in and to admit me to a ward. So back in went the catheter (still not very nice!) Drained almost 1 litre of wee… that’s a lot!! At this point I had totally given up. Nothing I could do or say would make any difference to the speed at which I was seen so I just sat staring at the wall in to the waiting room until a bed become available. This scared my wife as she had never seen me like this before. It was the lowest I have ever felt in my life!!!

Finally I was given a bed at 11pm.

Friday 6th August 2010
Woken up at 6.30am “do you want any cereals” Funnily enough I didn’t thanks!

My consultant came round at 8.30 He said this sometimes happens after an operation in the abdominal area due to the anaesthetic but could be an underlying problem brought on by the operation. Great something else for me to worry about!
The options were… firstly go home with the catheter and some tablets to get me weeing again, however it could be 2 weeks before an appointment to have the catheter removed. Secondly have the tablets and stay in hospital until Sunday. I went for option two!

I was moved to another ward at this point, which was a huge relief as the first one was horrendous! The bag was eventually changed for a tap which was much more discreet.

Saturday 7th August 2010
Woke up very tired today having had a crap night due to the nurses chatting, opening cans of drink and packets of crisps most of the night.

My wife, two daughters and mother-in-law came to see me this morning. It was great to reassure my 4 year old that all was OK and I’d be home as soon as possible. Also my dad come down from London today. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since telling him I have cancer. He’s also bringing our very good friend who’s visiting from Hong Kong so that’s something to be happy about.

The tablets are working. Just been to take a wee and things are starting to work normally again. This happen the next few times and now it’s getting painful weeing with the catheter in so ask for it to be taken out early. I’m told if I can wee three times in the next few hours I can go home tonight. I’m on for that challenge.

9pm arrive back home in my dad’s Rolls Royce… much more civilised than an ambulance!

Monday 9th August 2010
Going to take it very easy at home this week. Still feel bruised and rather delicate down below. This should only last another week or two… joy!! The scar is healing nicely now though.

I’m also very surprised at how awake I feel. I’ve been so tired over the last few weeks, even before the diagnosis falling asleep around 9pm and on some days having to drag myself out of bed in the mornings. Now that the lump has gone I feel so much more energised. Don’t know if that’s just psychological or just the affect the tumour had on my body.

Monday 16th August 2010
Back at work this week but doing half days. Again still feel bruised and rather delicate down below.

Thursday 19th August 2010
Feeling a lot better today. Off work now until Monday. Getting in the right frame of mind for the appointment tomorrow.

Friday 20th August 2010
Today is the second big day... Results Day! Thinking about it, probably bigger than the Op itself. I find out from the CT scan and biopsy if the cancer has spread to other areas or has it all been removed.

Off to Bude in Cornwall after the appointment for a well earned break for the whole family. A good time to either celebrate good news or think about any treatment to come.

Had my first tumour marker blood test done and it's 5 today, compared to 46 prior to the Op.
So this is the outcome…

"Histology is reported as showing a malignant teratoma with embryonal carcinoma. The tumour measured 2cm in maximum diameter. There was no evidence of vascular invasion and pathologically was staged as pT1

A staging CT scan has been reviewed by the MDT (Multi Disciplinary Team) and there is no definite evidence of metastasis.

Pre-operative tumour markers showed an AFP (Alpha Feta Protein) of 46 and HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) of 25

Providing the tumour markers are normal this is a low risk stage 1 teratoma. We have recommended that he go onto "Active Surveillance" which will require monthly outpatient appointments during the first year with repeat CT scan at 3 and 12 months. He will continue on follow up for at least the next 5 years.

The risk of recurrence is around 10-15% He is aware that if the cancer did recur he would require a course of curative chemotherapy using Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin"

So what does this all mean…
Basically I don't have cancer anymore!  No spread!  No treatment!  Just close monitoring...

1st year - every month
2nd year - every 2 months
3rd year - every 3 months
4th year - every 6 months
5th year - 1 visit

CT Scan at 3 and 12 months.

If the cancer was to return it's more likely to in the first 12-18 months which is why the monitoring is so intense at the beginning.

I'm one of the very lucky ones!!

Wednesday 1st September 2010
Been called in to the Oncology Centre today for a blood test to check testosterone levels and tumour markers. Tumour markers are normal now and testosterone on the way back up. So things are looking good.

Saturday 4th September 2010
Received a letter today from the hospital detailing all they have found. This is the first time it's all really started to hit home...  seeing it all written down in black and white!!

Friday 10th September 2010
My first monthly "Active Surveillance" today.

Had a good chat with the doctors and Sue Brand, Specialist Nurse (and new best friend)
A good chance to ask those questions I've thought of since my results day...

How long have I had it?
but they couldn't be sure. However they believe it was found very early.

Could I see the ultrasound images?
which they were very happy to show me.

Should I still feel occasional pain/discomfort? 
which the answer was yes.

Can I start playing Squash again? 
another week or two taking up running again to ease back in to keeping fit.

The scar is not healing as well as I'd like at the bottom end but I'm told it OK and this is normal. That's where most of the stretching goes on.

Other than that all is looking OK. No X-ray today just a blood test.

Signed up for the Research program... anything I can do to help others in a similar position.
Been for some Reiki this afternoon... Wow how relaxing!!
This illness has really opened my eyes as to just how lucky I am and to appreciate everything I have in life!

Saturday 11th September 2010
Booked in to a very nice hotel in Bristol with my wife for the night. The girls are having fun staying with their cousins.
A very welcome and relaxing end to what has been the worst few months of our lives!!!!!!

Onwards and upwards from here on in.............

Below are some sites I found very useful giving advice and general information on Testicular Cancer
Cancer Research UK
McMillan Cancer
NHS Cancer Information
Everyman Campaign
Orchid Cancer
TC Cancer
Check Em Lads
Live Strong
One Lump or Two
It's In the Bag

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone for all their support for both myself and my family.


  1. clapping my hands for a brave man. Wishing him continued good health for the future.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Louise. And thanks to Mike for sharing his very insightful and informative story. I hope his new bill of health continues into his future.
    Reading the part about how Mikes daughter got all upset at her daddy being taken away in an ambulance made my heart quick, as Ruby has a melt down when daddy so much as stumps stumps his toe!

    my other half is such a total hypercondriact, and is always checking for lumps (constantly....everywhere!) as much as this drives me totally insane sometimes, It is better to be safe than sorry, and i am thankful that he is the kind of man who would not ignore this kind of thing.

    I hope this inspires a lot of women to share this with any and every male in their life, and to be aware of how important it is to 'Be Aware' and how successful the treatment is when detected early.

    x K

  3. Oh my, the poor man! I don't understand why the hospital didn't treat him better...

    I have a brother who also had tesicular cancer. They believe is is from playing rugby and the trauma to the area over time...not sure on that bit though but jockeys and rugby players seem to be high up on the list of chaps who get it. Anyhow, his treatment was so much more 'swift' than yor friends, he decected his swollen and hard testical one evening and had the tests and results the very next day!!! He was on the operating table within the week! 5 years later he was given the all clear and has had a further 2 children since. This was 17 years ago.
    Lots of love to your friend and I hope he never has to go through such bad experiences ever again! xxxxx

  4. Thank You so much for sharing your story. It seems to be such a hard thing for men to talk about. xx

  5. Thanks for sharing, such a brave man! Very very best wishes for the future and continued good health! Emma X ;)


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