During the following week I went to work and told them what had happened. And several of the lads there asked me what I had found and what it felt like.
It was at the end of the second week when I went to see the Consultant Oncologist. We sat in his office and I tried to sit as far away from his as possible, but he made me sit down next him. He told me I had got a Teratoma, which is the fastest spreading of the two forms of testicular cancer that you can get. Lucky Me! I would be having a CAT scan to see if the cancer had spread before they could determine how much chemotherapy I would be having. But the long and the short of it was that I would probably have between 4 and 6 lots depending on how well the cancer reacted; my hair would fall out I would be sick and could not go back to work for the next 6 months.
I waited two weeks before my first lot of chemo. Which gave my brain plenty of time to think about the impending misery. I went for my CAT scan. You need to be there 2 hours before to drink a solution that highlights any cancer, which may have spread. Once again you get into a backless gown and lie on a trolley. This moves in and out of a barrel, which holds the x-ray machine. With your arms almost wrapped around the back of your head they start to take pictures through your body. Unfortunately I was later to find out that it had spread and a further tumour was growing just below my ribcage. I would definitely need 4 lots of chemotherapy.
Sitting alone at home for two weeks before chemo started, morbid thoughts went round in my head: I’d got cancer that had spread and if it’s spreading it must be bad. If it’s bad I must be dying.
I shaved my head as a way of trying to take control of my treatment – I did not want to see all my hair on the pillow, But, by the end, I had lost all my body hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes.
All to soon or not soon enough? Chemotherapy began. I got to the hospital first thing in the morning. They take a sample of blood and then leave you to sweat it out on the ward.
After several hours they come and start the usual name, address, age…and then you need to wait to be connected up for the drip. When that time came I had really lost my nerve. Every time they came anywhere near me with a needle every vain in my hand tensed up. After several attempts they gave me a tablet to help calm my nerves. By five o’clock on the first day I had only just been started. For the next five days I would have my chemotherapy. I was happy to meet another gentleman in the hospital who was having the same treatment. His had spread into his neck and whilst in for his first lot of chemo the lump had already started to disappear. This helped to boost my confidence. There were a couple of other people in the ward; two men with brain tumours and sixteen your old with the same; he could not speak, see or eat. In the evening the drinks cabinet came out – whiskey, Guinness whatever you wanted and you got some really nice food. So far so good.
By about the third day my vein had collapsed and the chemo was going straight into my flesh, was burning and really hurt. This meant that they would have to attempt to get another needle in. After five or six attempts they got one in but not before I developed needle phobia in a big way. We decided that I would have to have a Hickman line – which meant no more needles.
I didn’t feel tired or sick but between each bout I was to have a top-up intravenous injection. Immediately after the second one my pubes fell out in one go. I remember just laughing – it was unbelievably comical.
During the second lot of chemo I started to feel ill and was sick.
(Over the next few months a random blog will appear, telling the experience of that day, week or month. There will also be some video clips popping up along the way, certificate 18 in places, just because of the swearing. This is more about me signing off 25 years since I was forced to take a very different footpath to the one I had imagined, If you find them interesting or funny along the way then that’s great.)
It’s been a roller coaster of a journey, with ups, downs, twists and turns…….It’s been 25 years!