November is Men’s Health month or Movember - did you know men are dying on average 5 years earlier than women and for largely preventable reasons.
A growing number of men are facing life with a prostate cancer diagnosis and globally, testicular cancer is the most common cancer among young men. Movember aims to raise awareness of mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. Since 2003 the movement has funded more than 1250 men’s health projects around the world, challenging the status quo, shaking up men’s health research and transforming the way health services reach and support men.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide If you’re a man over 50, you should be talking to your doctor about PSA testing. If you’re Black, you need to start that conversation at 45. And if you have a brother or father with prostate cancer in their history, do it at 45.
Testicular cancer is the #1 cancer among young guys. Yet 62% of those who are most at risk don’t know how to check themselves. Good news is it’s easy.
The best thing you can do for your nuts is to give them a feel every month or so – get to know what’s normal for you. That way, if anything changes you can act on it. See below for a video on how to check your pair
I'm very grateful to my colleague who has kindly given me permission to share his story of testicular cancer.
Load Of Old Bollocks - by John Wild
When you’re a 27 year old man there are few things that you think are beyond your reach. Me for instance I had got married the year before, we were saving for a mortgage voraciously (including a brief step living with the in-laws) and things were looking amazing. As summer was turning into Autumn and we were gearing up to visit family in America for Halloween, I was feeling fairly good about the state of the world. Sadly it was about this time that I started to feel something off, the odd twinge down below, the occasional ache in the unmentionables and the overarching sensation that this just feels normal. Having taken part in the Movember for a few years before hand, despite the fact I CANNOT grow a moustache for love nor money I have long been a proponent of checking my equipment is in good order; and that’s when I found it. Not large and glaring, not a huge visible neon sign, just a subtle little bump where there hadn’t been one before. A tiny aching bump on my testicle.
So I did what any 27 year old man with any inkling of medical training would do. I left it and thought nothing of it. It's probably a cyst or something it’ll go away and it will take care of itself. I’d had a varicocele previously and this was just something as benign as that. I’m 27 nothing bad happens at 27, we don’t get hangovers let alone cancer, we are functionally immortal arn’t we? 2 weeks later as I progressively therapeutically palpate my testicle hoping that this obvious benign mass will go away, and that the increased aches, swelling and fairly constant feeling of being kicked in the nethers was a psychosomatic illusion brought on by the fact this WAS DEFINITELY NOT CANCER. I Relented. In a cold sweat in the bath, feeling the now pea sized extra testicle on my testicle I knew that this was not a cyst. I picked up the phone and called my doctor who miraculously had an appointment free when I was off. Nervously and with some embarrassment I dropped my pants in front of a man whose first name I didn’t know and allowed him examine me and tell me i'm obviously just overthinking it. It wasn’t the examination or the cold hands throughout that made me feel uncomfortable, it was the hard swallow before the conversation. “I'm going to refer you for an ultrasound that will be done within the fortnight”. The 2 week wait. Cancer, he thought it was cancer as well………Shit. As an ED nurse I will say one thing, I’m not patient. The waiting was worse then the knowledge this was more likely cancer. Not only that the feeling of being kicked in the bollocks was also being complemented with an increase in nausea which is so commonly partnered with the act.
When explaining my situation to some helpful Colleagues I was met with both concern and comedy, with more than one offer to “have a feel” or to see if they could successfully transilluminate it with a pen torch. When booking in for an ultrasound, I knew I was going to find out, and I was going to find out today. Going through the motions I made my way to the darkened ultrasound room and lay on the trolley whilst a kind and reassuring sonographer performed my scan. So I asked the question I didn’t want to know, “does it look like cancer to you?”, she replied with compassion and softness “I can say it doesn’t look like a cyst, It does look like a tumour”……… Double Shit As I walked back to the department, I was met in the corridor given a copy of my notes and sent to the ward to see the urologist who confirmed I had joined the ranks of the cancer club. Talks were had with me and my wife about the operation and the success rate, the risks of a GA and the expected time for the op 4 days later. We left in silence like we, the world had shattered and that was noise enough for the day. I rang my sisters who both initially thought it was a sick joke as I tried to meet it as I meet everything difficult, with dark humour and logic. The tears were loaded with support and disbelief in a mix that siblings give in dark times. The weekend was filled with conversations and pints with friends, tears and a significant amount of mounting dread. The operation was, albeit life-saving, completely routine, uncomplicated and despite looking like I had taken the kicks to the old chap I had felt over the past month, fairly easy to recover from. I was out of the cancer club. I avoided chemo and radiotherapy, and I was given a clean bill of health. My membership lasted 4 days, 4 days longer than I ever dreamed but non the less officially i'd spent less time officially having cancer than people spend in a tory cabinet position. The more I thought about it, and still do, is that the only reason I was so lucky to avoid the genuine hard side of the disease is the speed of diagnosis. I have known people who have had the awful ordeal of waiting who have not had the fortunate circumstance of a quick scan, or who have been delayed or the worst one of all, who have left it far too late to do anything about it. I will always refer to myself as a fake cancer patient, the cancer was definitely real, however having not had to go through the treatment like so many others, to just simply have a testicle out and that be it. I felt like I was somehow not a real patient.
As much as I was and am thankful, it feels almost like a kind of survivors guilt. The only redeeming factor for me was the notoriety it gave cancer that year. The Department raised over £1500 for Movember, we had terrible tashes all month but more importantly people started checking. Leading to one nurse finding what would later be breast cancer, and more importantly being successfully treated for it. I suppose the TL:DR of this entire thing is that cancer is always something we should look to beat, It’s an insidious enemy that we are slowly building the tools to destroy but still need to find before we can eliminate it. Waiting around for something to fix itself which will invariably get worse could have led to significantly different outcomes for me. Men doubly so are the biggest culprits for employing ignorance as a barrier. Ignorance has to stop being an excuse. Since my operation I have since been discharged from follow up and have a gorgeous little boy who genuinely fills my life with joy. My tashes get (slightly) better year on year and life is still good. I will still show anyone anytime how they should examine their testicles and provide people with the awkward explanation as to why I have a moustache tattooed on my arm. IF you’ve gotten this far or just skipped to the end.
CHECK YOUR BITS BOYS AND GIRLS. It saves lives.