William White (55) from Bangor was diagnosed with testicular cancer in July last year. William has been supported by our testicular cancer clinical nurse specialist, Melanie McNally, who was of great support during his treatment. Today William is doing well and he is proudly supporting our Talking Balls campaign to encourage more men to check themselves regularly. This is his story.
“My testicular cancer was diagnosed in July 2018. My presentation was not a typical scenario, as initially I had no palpable lump, but had noticed a reduction in the size of my right teste almost 4 years before diagnosis. I was examined at the time and my teste scanned. The results were normal, nothing suspicious found, and it was thought to be part of the natural ageing process.
“It wasn’t until I began to experience pain in the same teste in January 2018 that I sought further medical advice. My teste was again examined and I had another ultrasound scan. The result of that scan now showed an approximately 1 cm mass on the teste. A result you probably don’t want to hear, but, you know your own body and I already knew with the pain I was experiencing things weren’t right.”
“I received an urgent consultation within a week and surgery followed swiftly in mid May 2018. There was a gap of about 4 weeks following surgery before my appointment with a consultant to discuss the next steps in my treatment, but soon enough I found myself at the Cancer Centre.
Melanie’s support is so important
“I was met by Melanie McNally, the specialist nurse funded by Friends of the Cancer Centre, on my very first visit. I don’t think anything would be too much hassle for Mel. None of our questions went unanswered, and she was always available for a chat if required. I’ve since learned that Melanie is the only nurse of her kind in Northern, which I find quite incredible. Her support was so important to us during that time and she still is. I’m very grateful to everyone who supports Friends of the Cancer Centre for making her post possible.
“During the initial consultation at the Cancer Centre, I was told that the cancer had started to move to my lymph ducts, so I was offered chemotherapy. I finished that in mid-august and it went almost without a hitch, until I ended up with a neutropenic sepsis after the 2nd round. I had arrived home after treatment and just got a bit chilly. Then really chilly. Nope, I was burning up. The telephone support line at the Cancer Centre is superb. I phoned up, was asked all the pertinent questions, answered them, and had to return to the centre straight away. A couple of days later, I was back on top form and thankfully the rest of the treatment was uneventful.”
You can order your Talking Balls self-check card online now.
“I had decided from the start that I needed to be as open as possible with my family, sharing all the available information as it arose. I wanted my wife and children to feel like they could ask any questions they needed and not worry about causing me any upset or anxiety about the unfolding news. I think it also helped that they were aware that I wasn’t keeping anything from them, in a bid to save them from worrying.”
“Losing my hair was never really an issue, as I was already thinning ‘a bit’ anyhow. The only issue was my sister in laws forthcoming wedding. I decided to create a diversion for friends and family who might have been concerned about broaching the whole chemo treatment and my now total loss of hair, by wearing a wig. My hair is always short and has been greying for some time, so instead of getting replacement hair similar to what I had, I went for a full afro which I wore for a short time at the evening do as an ice breaker. It went down a hoot.”
“After treatment finished, I went back to work within 6 weeks, but with reduced hours and currently in a less demanding roll. I have been back at the Cancer Centre every few months for my reviews and I am in good health. Melanie and the team are always there, always offering support, keeping a check on me, and most importantly, they always ask “Are you still self-examining?”, but of course I am!
“I can’t encourage other men enough, please get checking. Give yourself the best chance you can to catch anything early enough to reduce the impact on your health. It’s really quick, easy, and painless to check yourself, a couple of minutes when showering or bathing, go on, you know it makes sense”