A few weeks ago something big happened, my boyfriend was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was pretty scary. We soon found out that testicular cancer is actually the most common form of cancer for men in their 20s. A month later we’re kind of on the other side, we even joke about it (a lot, Adam has managed to make cancer induce an eye roll). So he’s here today to share the story with you…
I was diagnosed with testicular cancer on May 16th 2014. Nothing quite prepares you for finding out something like that. There was no zoning out with my heart beating in my ears, no emotional breakdown and no existential crisis.
The first thing I asked was about cosmetic replacement testicles. Clearly, the gravity of the situation had yet to hit. To be entirely honest, I still don’t think it has. Telling people was more of an experience – a whole spectrum of responses.
Most people were shocked and sympathetic. Others made jokes, which was comforting in the warmest way possible. A few have had previous run ins with the malignant beast growing in my sack. My mother cried. But everyone was supportive and that meant the most at the end of the day.
After all, there’s an attitude surrounding Cancer. Even the word sounds unnatural. But it was always something foreign, something that happened to someone else – a distant relative, some famous person, others through a LCD screen.
My only experience with cancer before this was a grandfather by marriage, a great man claimed too early and a genuine soul. In fact, cancer’s the reason I moved to Auckland and most of you met me. So, thanks Cancer?
Fun facts aside, I was old enough at the time to understand death and dying and all the macabre stuff like that – but the disease part was a foreign concept. How can your body just decide to do itself in and kark it, right?
The worst part was watching the deterioration. I didn’t see much of my grandfather once his ‘treatment’ started, but the few times I did were difficult. Through futile chemotherapy and the general destruction of the cancer, watching someone fade like that before your eyes – and so quickly – was simply the worst.
So yeah, it’s been a fairly weird and daunting experience.
The testicle itself looked otherworldly. Just before the scrotal lobotomy, it was comfortably bigger than my palm, and hung down with its own tumourous mass. It had been steadily growing for around a month before I got it checked out, becoming firmer and firmer every day.
My first visit to a medical professional was less than satisfactory. After waking in the early hours of one morning to a burning, aching pain, my flatmate drove me to Middlemore and I knew something dodgy was going down in my nether regions. After being gently caressed by one of the doctors on watch, he told me it was an STD – more specifically, chlamydia.
Well, what a misdiagnosis that was. After finishing the two week cycle of antibiotics he prescribed, nothing had changed. In fact, my Boy had grown bigger during that time. With growing concern, a visit to my GP saw unanswered questions, a trip to Auckland’s Urology clinic and a day of fondlemania.
There was no external lump, nothing that would indicate anything growing in or around my testicle. I did the regular checks in the shower, when the warm water makes them saggy and mobile. But there was never any sign. It just began growing and hardening. So, guys, if this shit starts happening to one (or both) of your boys, don’t sleep on it. Get checked out.
Finding out when I did was the best news. Following an ultrasound – which would have been pleasant, and even erotic, under different circumstances – the surgeon told me the signs of growth seemed to be contained in the one area. We got it early, and it hadn’t spread.
I couldn’t think of anything worse than being doomed by my own sexual organ. Kinda ironic; my procreative device was out to kill me.
My surgery was scheduled for a week and a bit later, on Monday May 26th. I’ve never felt more vulnerable than being stark naked (bar medical gown) with several strangers in surgery getups, cleaning medical equipment and looking down at my crown jewels. But the anaesthetist wasn’t lying when he told me he was injected a “cocktail of chemicals” into my arm.
I woke up around two hours later with no memory and a single ball. In all fairness, the surgery was the easiest part of the whole ordeal. The procedure is called an inguinal orchidectomy, and if you’re about to Wiki that – sorry for all the penises.
Basically, the surgeon makes an incision into the groin region of the affected side and removes both the spermatic cord and testicle. They kinda push the whole thing up past your penis, keeping your scrotum intact. Then you get washed and stitched and bandaged and wheeled into a lovely white room, where they wait for you to wake from your drug-induced stupor.
Since the removal, there’s been a lot of pain. The medications been fun necessary and it’s involved a whole lot of doing nothing. When I finally got a good glance at my genitals, it was surprising to see that it didn’t look any different.
Sure, when you feel it, there’s a notable absence of testie. But at room temperature, the sack looks normal and untouched. When it’s hot and things start Dali’ing, it looks like a clock pendulum swaying gently in the breeze.
I have my appointment with a specialist soon to discuss the results of my biopsy and to see if it’s spread anywhere else, and whether or not I need radio or chemotherapy. This is the worst part, the possibility that these treatments may be necessary. I’ve seen what they do and I’m in two minds about what to do.
But I get to keep the testicle in a jar. Silver linings.
Want to see it pre lopping? Don’t say I didn’t warn you…