Dan . 24 . Scottland
My name is Dan and I'm from Scotland. I was diagnosed with stage 2 testicular cancer in September 2017.
Before I was diagnosed, I was extremely healthy, had a high level of fitness and was mentally strong. There’s no real reason why I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It doesn’t individually chose its victims. It Just unfortunately happens.
Testicular cancer isn’t something we need to fear. We just need to keep on top of ourselves, by checking and examining for anything unusual.
It is highly curable, however it is also known to spread quickly therefore it is important to take that initial trip to the doctors as soon as possible!
I originally had an operation to remove the lump, followed by several scans which showed it had spread to my lymph nodes behind my abdomen, which resulted in me having to have chemotherapy.
I remember sitting with my consultant for the first time, being briefed on chemotherapy and the potential side effects which at the time thought was one of the worst things I’d ever heard. I didn’t want to accept I had to go through chemo because I didn’t physically feel any different. It was hard to accept I actually had cancer so I asked if I could see the outcome of my scans and have them explained to me.
After seeing my scans and speaking with my consultant, I realised I had no option but to accept that I had to have the chemo. Although I didn’t physically feel any different the scans proved to me I had to be treated. After having the chemo I can honestly say it wasn’t nearly as bad as I initially thought it would be and it was definitely worth fighting through it. If I spoke to someone about there experience going through chemo before going through it myself my mind would have definitely been more at ease!
Chemotherapy was something I had very little knowledge about and being told I had to go through it was one of the worst things I had imagined at the time! The potential side effects and time spent in hospital, I knew my life was away to change drastically and wasn’t sure how it would affect me long term.
I was used to living an active life so the thought of not being able to do that was the thing that got to me the most. My appearance was about to change, my hair was guaranteed to fall out and I had images of me loosing a lot of weight and becoming very frail. All these thoughts can have a massive impact on you mentally.
One of the hardest things is knowing how much your appearance is going to change and worrying about the conversations you have to have with family and friends about your diagnosis. I found the best way to deal with this was to actually speak about it and let everyone know exactly what I was going through. Once people were aware it was a great relief and felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I also received an incredible amount of support which really helped keep me positive. Cancer is out of our control and is nothing for us to be ashamed of. Its important we try our best to stand up to it and not let it take over our lives.
Because I was used to living such an active life, I still went to the gym and trained as much as I could. I believe my fitness, healthy lifestyle and strong mentality made a huge difference. We can’t rely on these factors stopping us getting cancer but it certainly helps get through the treatment!
My side effects were, a lack of energy, nausea, metallic taste in my mouth, hair loss (but kept my eyelashes and eyebrows, winner!) sensitive finger tips, mouth ulcers, and mentally and physically drained at times. The best way to describe it was having a really bad hangover, with no hair and mouth ulcers. Nothing we can’t deal with! These side effects didn’t occur everyday. There was days I felt good and was able to live my normal life. There is so much medication in place to help with these side effects. Life in hospital was not as bad as I thought it would be. I initially dreaded the thought of spending 4 whole weeks in hospital but after my first weeks experience, my opinion changed. It was the complete opposite of what I thought it was going to be. It was a very uplifting ward thanks to the staff and local charity, Friends of Anchor. The high spirits in the ward and all the services provided by friends of anchor made a massive difference and helped keep my morale high through out my journey. Friends of anchor also funded ground breaking research to improve diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients. This is why it’s so important to support this local charity!
A lot of people don’t like to speak about their diagnosis or use cancer support facilities because they may feel its a sign of weakness doing so. This is not a sign of weakness! Its being intrigued on the unknown and gaining knowledge that you may benefit from! From my experience, it was good to openly speak with others about it. It played the whole thing down and meant I was still able to get on with the things I enjoy doing. I used Maggie's Aberdeen, which is a cancer support building, throughout my treatment for somewhere to chill out and grab a coffee after appointments. This helped me relax and take my mind off it all because it was a completely different environment from the hospital and a very relaxing building! All the staff are so welcoming and friendly. It really did make a difference having this support throughout my treatment, even if it was just to grab a coffee and chill out. I would advise anyone who is affected by cancer to use facilities like this if available. Holding it all inside may feel like a massive weight on your shoulders and may result in you hiding away from life where as if people know and your open about it theres more chance you’ll just get out there and get on with it.
Getting diagnosed with cancer can feel like the worst thing ever has just happened to you but you’ve got to try and look past that and stay positive. I am now in remission and have been finished treatment for 8 months. Despite my fitness levels decreasing massively because of the chemotherapy, I now feel physically more fit then I was before in most aspects of fitness! I am 5kgs heavier and looking just as healthy as I was before my diagnosis, if not more. Im now much more motivated as a person, I want to do better, I want to live life to the full and make the most of every day. This shows the positive effects it can have on you. A journey through cancer doesn’t have to be negative. There will be tough days for sure but when is there not in day to day life. Its about grinding through the tough days to enjoy the good days even more! It can be mentally tough at times. Don’t be afraid to admit it and speak about it, theres professional help out there for everyone. Some days you may sit and think why me, but you’ve got to think, why not me! It can happen to anyone. Be strong, positive and fight to get through it.
Its really important we don’t shy away from cancer. It can happen to anyone. Being diagnosed with cancer has made me realise how many people are affected by it. Ive had a positive experience through cancer and want the same for everyone else who is affected by it. The work the staff do on the wards is incredible and the support you get from the local charities is also amazing but its so important we do our bit to keep this support in place. Its saving lives everyday and it could be one of your loved ones affected next so lets do what we can to ensure everyone has the best chance of getting through it by raising awareness and raising money for local charities! They really do make the difference!
Having the support from family, friends, medical staff, charities and my work really made the difference. All this support had a massive effect on keeping me positive throughout and I fully believe that my positive energy helped me through my journey. You’re in really good hands going through a cancer diagnosis. Trust your medical staff, take it day by day and believe you can get through it!
I want to use my experience to help others that are affected by cancer in whatever way I possibly can. Hopefully this message gives people that little push to take that trip to the doctors if they are in doubt about anything at all.