Wayne Vitta
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Hi my names Wayne and back in 2015 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

 

Not ashamed to say but when I was told, I just could not stop crying. The diagnosis was no sooner than a few weeks after my wife suffered an early miscarriage so life was pretty tough at the time.

 

I was stage 1 so "lucky" in the fact that not much treatment was required.

 

The op was relatively simple and was off my feet for a week or so.

 

The one dose of chemo again was relatively easy. A flu/hangover combo feeling which lasted all but a week.

 

When you read it out it doesn't sound like much, but what isn't spoken about is the the parts in between and the waiting and uncertainty of what is to come.

 

After the op it was a 3 week wait before any other scans were done to check for spread.

 

Those 3 weeks were awful. Days and days of wondering if my body was riddled with cancer and if it was only a matter of time before I would endur weeks or months of treatment.

 

The worst part is nobody knows what to say to you. Most of my pals just stuck with one ball jokes trying to perk me up a bit but everytime I heard the word womble I just wanted to smash their stupid face in.

 

Throughout my life I have used humour to get through things but this was different. I'm a man I'm not supposed to have one bollock, how was this going to affect me.

 

I was working in car sales at the time, a pretty testosterone filled environment. I remember struggling to speak to customers, I'd lost my edge as well as my bollock and I'd look at people selling cars and think "look at that dickhead with his two bollocks selling cars" sounds daft I know but I went through a period of inadaquacy. I hated the fact that this had messed with my head so much.

 

I had targets to hit at the same time waiting for scan results.

Those weeks and days waiting for the results really took their toll. I became angry and aggressive to everyone, even my family which I regret still to this day. 

My fuse had shortened and then one day whilst at work a mate walked up to me and said "Wayne, you're shaking"

 

I stopped for a second looked at my hands and arms and I was just uncontrollably shaking, my eyes welled up with tears and I just ran outside sat in my car and just cried for what felt like hours until there was a knock on my window. My manager came out and just told me to go home.

 

I went to the doctors and was prescribed sertraline, an antidepressant to "help me" 

 

In a way it did but it just numbed my emotions. Again this affected my work and family life.

 

Shortly after me and the family were out on a walk, my phone rang. It was Paul my cancer nurse who just said great news Wayne your scans are clear we'll see you next week to discuss any further treatment options.

 

Id just been given the best news possible and my mind just didn't react to it. I told my wife, she was over joyed and I was just stood there emotionless.

 

"how is that it, how is it all over"

 

One minute I had cancer the next it was gone.

I'd spent weeks preparing myself for chemo. I'd bought a hat just incase because I was dreading hair loss. I don't weigh a lot and was worried I'd just waste away.

 

But all this wasn't going to happen. I was fine. But did my brain believe it, did it bollocks.

 

From that moment on, every ache niggle and pain was cancer, it was back.

 

With appointments 6 months apart I was constantly on the phone to my cancer nurse. "Paul my bollock hurts, I have back ache, I've got a cough"

 

This went on for 18 months before something just clicked. Me and my brain had a chat and we just decided "fuck it" what will be will be.

 

It's a very hard road the first twelve months and all I will say is please talk to somebody if you're having a tough time. I didn't and put myself in an awful position . It was fight or flight and flight won every single time. I'd avoid people, party's and pubs were places I loved and suddenly loathed because I couldn't deal with peoples moaning nonsense as what I was going through was killing me Inside.

 

I'm forever grateful for Philly and everyone at checkemlads for their help and support throughout everything and will do anything I can to help new members to the group.

 

I still have the odd wobble from time to time but just look back on what I've been through and just say "forwards, always forwards"

 

No point going back, there's loads more worse off and I have the opportunity of life which unfortunately some no longer do.

 

Men don't like to talk and I get it but it really is the best thing to do.

 

A 45 minute chat with a random scouser (philly Morris) helped  massively, that and a few sessions with a specialist.

 

Don't suffer in silence fellas. Shout out

Neil BEVAN
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About a month before I found my rogue nut, my ex partner (mother to my children) asked to speak to me.

Her mum's cancer was back she'd had breast cancer awhile back and had only just been given full remission. Obviously this was a shock not just to her but myself as well.

 

Fast forward a month I found something while doing my check I won't lie and say I checked weekly maybe a month had gone past without checking properly, no lumps, my left testicle was extremely hard to touch and had no feeling.

I gave it a day or two thinking had I knocked it or something. 

 

GP was great told her what I'd found, she had a feel and explained about getting ultrasound.

 

Ultrasound was done spoke to a consultant who after having a feel said 90% chance of cancer. 

At this point my world fell out of my arse. I'd  spoken to work  before this appointment and as soon as I told them I was signed off work. 

 

The wait... Is terrifying, I woke my wife up one night crying because I was scared of having a canula put in. I'm scared of needles, she calmed me down held me and said she was by my side all the way. I can't describe how good them words felt to me. From being told to having the op was over a week, a week of waiting of worry. 

 

The op was postponed by a day not great but it is what it is. 

The op happened I had a new left nut, unfortunately surgeons don't have a sense of humour I asked for one with a squeak (for the wife of course) my only response was a glare, I'd like to point out I was scared so I went with stupidity and humour to help me. 

After the Op I was sent home feeling a little bruised and battered but relief opbollockoff was over with. 

 

I had a little over 3 weeks from Op to finding out my fate, during this time I had a Ct scan It was fairly quick after the op so I was still wearing my scrotal support not the classiest undies I've worn but god without it it would hurt. 

 

Classification day! 

Driving to the hospital I can't say I remember the journey I think we were both in auto pilot. 

I was 'lucky' stage 1 non semanoma I was offered surveillance or one high dose carboplatin. I took the carbo.

More tests...  

 

I got angry very angry to the point I screamed obscenities at some guy for not saying thank you when the wife let him cross the road, looking back I'm really ashamed of myself for this behaviour. It was at this point I spoke to my line manager and her words of your not coming back to work till you've spoken to someone, I get free private health care (I am very lucky) so I made a call to them and spoke to someone and asked for help, I got some counselling set up for after my chemo. 

 

Counselling it helps honestly talking to someone helped me. 

 

Chemo day! 

It's along day I'm considered lucky I only needed one dose but I was technically cured before the dose. My only regret is not ringing the bell, I didn't feel like I deserved to as I was already in the clear. 

The bell is a symbol not just for you that you've kicked cancer a new one it's a symbol to the others that you can win that you can beat this. If only I could go back and slap myself and ring that bell! 

 My only side effects were like a 5 day hangover not sleeping a little nauseous and just permanently tired. 

 

Back to work 

I was looking forward to going back to work. 

I'm a shift worker for a cross channel operator so getting back to work felt good I was phased into work slowly my first day back I wasn't allowed to do anything but check my email and check all my paperwork was in order! I had only been at work for an hour, welcome back kind of thing  a few questions until someone blurts out, you were off sick? 

And having to explain it all she was fully mortified. 

The weeks roll by and work is getting harder not the actual work I'm still not allowed out on my own in case I have an accident it was talking about my cancer day after day it's draining. Luckily I'm still have counselling. I'd like to point out that not one person was malicious in what anyone said it was the questions every day, I wanted to go to work to be Neil not Neil the cancer victim. 

 

 Now I've had more counselling since but I think that's more down to covid and being stuck indoors Alot I think it's brought up memories which are to close for comfort for me.

 

Things that I do now I meditate, it works for me if I'm having a bad day I over think things and stress myself our I know I won't sleep so I over stress some more, it's more the centre my breathing kind of meditation, also I've found a herbal tea for the evening, I don't know if the tea helps but I think having a routine works for me. 

 

Cancer can be a very lonely place, I have a loving supportive family yet there was days when I couldn't see the help, it's the dead of night and you can't sleep and the worms start digging in remember your not alone, people care for you. 

 

This group is an eye opener I never thought of joining, till I found out I had cancer. 

 

I'm currently having more good days than bad days am I back to normal no far from it I still have little motivation to do things, I'm happy to sit in front of the TV or play games. 

 

First image is me being stupid on surgery day and the second one is chemo day again me being stupid with cake. 

 

I really hope this helps. 

 

Thanks 

 

Neil Bevan 

Ian Merrington
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After I was introduced to the Macmillan nurse who asked “do you know why you’re here, and why you are having these scans” my world fell apart. I knew about Lance Armstrong, testicular cancer, spread through his body, onto his brain…. I’d always been strong, fit, well – I did ironman triathlon, I didn’t smoke, didn’t drink (lots), ate well… how can this happen? would I ever see my daughters grow up and get married? what about my wife, how will she cope? Yep. I knew I was in properly, and utterly screwed.

So they scan you, book you in for surgery, and send you on your way; to wait at home. Those were the darkest days. Not knowing what I faced, what would happen – I felt so alone. I was desperate, and didn’t know where to turn. I tried Macmillan – and tried again, and the one useful thing they did was point me at checkemlads. I can’t say how much a difference it made; knowing there were men who had got through it, knew what it was like, reaching out – I cried. Getting a text with a phone number, and a message to call – any time, day or night – it was a point of light in a very dark time. 

Being slightly older (mid 40s) I perhaps didn’t worry so much about the surgery; I was more concerned on would I be able to get back to training. This was a real period of waiting for news on results, and then an appointment to find out what next, and then more waiting. There were many dark and lonely nights, mind racing, worrying, scared, not knowing. The stress, and worry and concern is so hard to describe.

After surgery I felt like I’d dodged a bullet when I was finally told I would go on surveillance, and I slowly moved on with my life. Only to find out only a few months later that it was back – I cried again.

My wife will tell you I was a nightmare. The oncologist was telling me I needed chemo, or otherwise I’d die. I asked if I could ride my bike, go running, what about swimming? I was in denial. I was going to smash this, bring it on! 

Only I didn’t. The chemo hit me like a wall. I struggled with the chemo, and would not have got though without my family around to help. And the team at checkemlads helped me and my wife get through; day by day. The love and support we found was incredible. Slowly, day by day, we dragged ourselves through it. The folk who reached out started as strangers, but those men were true gentlemen; they stepped up to offer support and care at a time when there were few others who could. 

And now 5 years on I have slowly, check-up on check-up, scan on scan, and blood test later blood test, crept through the very long period of surveillance to make it to discharge. It’s been a life changing event. I don’t think anyone who goes through this level of trauma remains unchanged. Hopefully it make us see how precious life is – and to seize each day. For me talking helped, linking up with those guys in checkemlads helped, and now I hope that I can help those who were in that same dark place I was at; because when I was in that hole it was a very deep and scary place - and these guys reached out to help, and at times climbed in with me.   

Martyn Blackburn
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I was diagnosed in August 2005, 5 days short of my 40th Birthday after 18 months of misdiagnosis, scans consultations etc etc. Finally went in for the op, then a course of radiotherapy, all went OK was in the system for the ride until they kicked me out after 5 years and got the all clear.

Back then in the grim dark times there wasn't a lot of support out there, all I could find was a small forum on the Orchid Cancer website and that wasn't well visited, I did post on there to try and reach out to anyone going or had gone through the same thing but think I only had one reply and that was the end my online experience!

I come from a long line of North Country forebears and like my Dad before me, I buttoned it all in and shut it away like most people of my generation did.

All went tickety boo for many years and I built up a decent small construction company with a good pal of mine, we had a fleet of 7 excavators and at our peak we employed 17 blokes and weathered the usual ups and downs of a business of this type, I'd always led from the front and both of us worked on site and I enjoyed being in the thick of it all

Until one morning over 4 years ago, I woke up one morning and didn't want to go to work anymore, then I crashed and burned, couldn't function at all.

Managed to get into counselling and it was like the floodgates opening! Once I started I couldn't stop, it's very enlightening pouring your heart out to a complete stranger, don't get me wrong my wife was and is a complete rock in my life but sometimes you need to offload to someone else without burdening your loved ones with all your crap?

It's the same old cliche really, don't hold it all in, let that stuff out. I was lucky, I my mate bought me out of the business and nowadays my son and I work together just doing private jobs and I'm in a much better place now, a lot poorer but a lot happier! 

If anyone has the inclination, have a listen to 'Samaritans' by the band Idles, the lyrics especially resonate very strongly with me (mind you so does wanderin star by Lee Marvin does so don't trust my judgement!!)