I started getting a really bad pain in my lower back. I thought nothing of it at first I just thought it was because my job at the time involved a lot of heavy lifting.
So I started taking Nurofen Plus. The pain went away for about 2 weeks but then came back, but this time it was much worse and it wasn’t just in the lower back it was in the upper back as well. So I went to my local walk-in centre to see if they could help.
I waited for 6 hours before I was seen, then they asked me what my symptoms were, they did a chest x-ray and took a sample of my blood.
As I left the centre I thought to myself that this can’t be right. So I rang my mum (A retired GP) who was in Australia visiting my sister who was living there.
We spent the following week seeing two doctors. After seeing the first one we asked for a second opinion that led to being booked to see a specialist in two months time.
My mum insisted that I was seen straight away because she had a feeling that I had cancer, although she didn’t tell me so as not to scare me.
The next day we saw the specialist and had a chest x-ray and a blood sample was taken, both results came back very abnormal and the specialist wanted to admit me to hospital the same day.
I spent the weekend under observation with codeine as my painkiller…(Not really helping a great deal).
Monday 15th November 2004, I was told I had testicular cancer stage 4 and my parents were told that I would die, Sadly for me there is no way I could have known about the cancer earlier as there was no lump to feel in my testicle. The primary growth there was so tiny that even when scans showed it up the doctors themselves still could not feel it.
That day I was transferred to Charing Cross Hospital London and put on a 3 and a half week course of chemotherapy.
The doctors there later said they hoped that I would have a 60/40 chance of survival.
Then I was put on a new course of chemotherapy, this time it was 5 months of seven 3-day courses of chemotherapy intravenously. As well as being admitted to hospital for some of these I also had two emergency admissions for complications (Infections)
By the end of these I had been able to stop taking morphine for the pain, but the bad news was that all my hair had gone including my eyebrows and eyelashes….not a pretty sight. After that stage my veins had become so inactive a Hickman line had to be inserted.
In April I moved to the Dacie Ward at the Hammersmith Hospital for a 3 and ahalf week course of high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. This was possibly the worst 3 and a half weeks of my life mainly because I couldn’t eat for the majority of the time, I even had to be given a drug called Valium because I was feeling so depressed and anxious.
By this time I had had a Hickman line in for several weeks. I felt so ill for part of the time, had a lot of nose bleeds and for one week I had to be fed through a tube because my mouth was full of ulcers. This is a well known side effect of the transplant.
In July I was back in Charing Cross Hospital for a major operation to remove all the glands from the back of my abdomen and one testis. We went back to see my Professor in outpatients and he was able to tell us that all the glands showed dead cancer and that he was going to continue just to watch the shadows in my lungs and liver as hopefully they were dead too.
To begin with I had further CT scans and was seen very frequently but it is more than 6 years since my diagnosis so follow-up is every 12 months.