Checking myself saved my life

Monday, 4 November 2019

32 year old James Mulholland from Newbridge was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was 22 years old.

Ten years on, James is doing well and enjoying life with his young family. He is also proudly supporting our Talking Balls campaign, which is calling on men across Northern Ireland to get into the habit of checking their testicles regularly. This is James’ story.


“I was 22 years old when I first I found a small pea shaped lump on my left testicle.


I didn’t experience any pain, but the lump had been there for a few weeks before I did anything about it. I hoped it would just go away, but when it didn’t I couldn’t ignore it any longer and made an appointment with my GP. He arranged for an ultrasound scan which picked up something that should not have been there. Things moved pretty fast after that and I was soon admitted to Belfast City Hospital to have my testicle removed for biopsy. When the biopsy came back it confirmed it was cancer and a CT scan revealed it had spread to my lymph nodes behind my stomach.


“It was a big shock for my whole family, especially my mum and dad who had their lives turned upside down, particularly when my chemotherapy started. I couldn’t keep food down and could hardly lift my head off the pillow. I was really well looked after by Dr McAleer and the team at the Cancer Centre, who couldn’t do enough to help me through such a difficult time.


“Ten years on and I’ve been give the all clear and life is really good. I married my wife, Jane on the 18th of July 2014 which was the same date I started my chemotherapy five years previous. I now have three boys: Charlie 6; Jamie 4 and Harry 10 months, who mean the world to my wife and I.


“In the 10 years since I was diagnosed, treatment and care has come a long way and I was really delighted to find out that Friends of the Cancer Centre now funds Northern Ireland’s only specialist nurse for men with testicular cancer.


“My advice to all men is if you think there’s something not right don’t put it off. Get to your doctor as soon as you can. A few minutes of embarrassment in a doctor’s surgery could save your life. It saved mine.”


We're Talking Balls this November
This November we are calling on men across Northern Ireland to start Talking Balls and get checking themselves every month. To help, we’ve produced a handy step by step guide on how you can check yourself. Not only that, but we’ve also got a Talking Balls stress ball, the perfect reminder to get checking. Order your self-check card and ball here.

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We’re always in need of volunteers to help in our office, at events or in their own local community, so if you have time to spare and would like to get involved, please get in touch to find out more.