Cameron’s Story

Making Choices for my Wife’s Cancer Care

My wife is a cancer survivor. Often, she mentions how challenging it must have been for me to manage the situation as her husband and caregiver.  Being a caregiver is a difficult task, and I hope that by sharing my story, I can help other people currently struggling through a similar, difficult journey through cancer.

Just a little over three months before my wife was diagnosed with cancer, we had our first baby, a beautiful little girl that we named Lily.  We were thrilled and overjoyed to be new parents, but less than four months later the diagnosis was made and our world fell apart.  My wife had mesothelioma.  The joy, hope and dreams were ripped from us. But, seconds after the diagnosis, the physicians began discussing medical options and the reality was clear – I had to help my wife make difficult choices regarding her care from this point forward.

Anger and absolute fear raged in me for days. But, as time went by, I learned to accept the situation and find the strength needed to face these challenges successfully. This strength was driven from the love I have for my family. I managed to mask my fears and be the source of hope and positive energy that we needed during this time.

As the days went by, my list of tasks became overwhelming.  I suddenly had so many new responsibilities, and I struggled to keep up with everything that I was expected to do.  I had to continue to work my full time job, care for Lily and my wife, our pets, our home, arrange for medical care and doctors appointments, travel arrangements – the list went on and on. It was during those first days that I learned to manage priorities and take care of the important things first. Not only did I learn to prioritize, but I finally opened up to the assistance of family and friends; these special individuals made this time manageable. After I learned to accept their help, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.  I still felt overwhelmed on some days, but with the generous support of our family and friends we managed to make it through day by day.

There was one particular hardship that was especially difficult for me to endure. For two months, I was separated from my wife and daughter, and was able to see them only one time. My wife and I traveled to Boston for her extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, and we left Lily in the care of Heather’s parents in South Dakota.  After her surgery, Heather went to join Lily at her parents’ house to recover and prepare for further treatment, while I returned home to keep working.  They would stay there for the next two months, and sadly I would be able to visit them only once. I traveled more than 10 hours through a snowstorm to see them one Friday night after work. I was only able to spend a day with them, before I had to get back on the road to be at work on Monday morning.  It was a short visit, but I cherished every moment of it.

My wife’s struggle with cancer was the most difficult time of my life, but it taught me so much.  I learned the importance of accepting help.  At first I tried to do everything myself, but if I hadn’t learned to accept the offers of assistance from our family and friends I never would have made it through.  I also learned to never regret or second guess the difficult decisions that we were forced to make during this time.  Rather, I learned to be grateful for the ability to make decisions at all.  They gave us some small amount of control over a situation that often seemed completely out of our hands.  In the end, Heather defied the odds that come with a mesothelioma diagnosis, and is cancer-free today, over seven years later.  I hope that these lessons that we learned can help those currently struggling through a difficult battle with cancer.

Terry’s Story

I started to get pain in my left testicle in 2005, I had a slight lump so I went to see the doctor and he said it was probably just a cist and not to worry. He couldn’t feel anything. I went again several times and he said the same thing. He said the pain of removing a cist would be worse. I knew my body so decided to go to another doctor who happened to be female and said she would send me for a scan instead. The scan showed a tumour and I wasn’t suprised. They removed my testicle and I then found out it had spread so had to have bep chemo. If the doctor had sent me for a scan in the first place then I may not have had to have chemo. I personally didnt think the chemo was as bad as I thought it would be. The worst things for me was the hair loss, digestion problems, swelling of hands etc (side effects), loss of taste and my nails hanging off. But I am still here thanks to Cancer Research and the Clatterbridge team. I consider myself extremely lucky. I am now a dad, married and am healthy 🙂 Terry

Adamo’s Story

I am basically ( so far) as testicular cancer survivor. Just over 7 months ago, yes just after Christmas, I went to the GP with an ache in my balls, there wasnt exactly an irregular feel to them, but its just gut male instinct told me to swallow my male pride and go and see. Anyway within 4 week of that initial appointment I had been to the hospital 5 times, been on cancer shrinking drugs for 2 weeks and right at the end found that the sickness was impossible to deal with so the decison was taken to remove both my balls.
I said earlier SO FAR as it is only 4 weeks since the op and a long way to go before that magic time of REMISSION and ALL CLEAR – but so far so good – OK the PCT was very good and speedy – only trouble is they dont fund prosthetic balls on the NHS – anyway better look like a dead chicken with than the alternative of long term suffering and eventual death I say.
Anyway – pardon the phrase – but in a nutshell thats my story – I really admire all taht you are doing and will support you in any way possible – I know you are sticking local right now – but your goial and dream of national / international is going to happen – just let me know what I can do for you and it will be done – if you have posters leaflets anything to help spread the word then email me them, send them, and I will pay to have them reproduced and make sure Essex knows you exist. Without the work of charities / people like you I can only have nighmares about what my life would be like. At 39 yrs old I know have a whole life ahead of me.

Gareth’s Story

A woman who fought for the right to use her late husband’s sperm to conceive is to start IVF treatment on Wednesday.

Rachel Wyke, 23, ofWalsall, was denied help on the NHS because she is a widow, but an anonymous couple are paying for her £3,500 treatment.

Her husband, Gareth, who died from testicular cancer in 2003, froze his sperm when he found out treatment for his illness may leave him infertile.

Mrs Wyke is due to start her treatment at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

She said her husband had signed a consent form before his death at the age of 23 in December 2003, just a few months after they got married.

Mrs Wyke said: “I’d already lost a husband. Why lose a child that we’d always wanted?

“It’s really expensive to go private and I do wish the NHS would fund it for more couples and also single people as well.

“I just think Gareth wanted me to be happy. He said he would be really happy for me to go ahead with it.”

She added: “I’m really excited and really nervous. Gareth’s sperm quality isn’t that good so that’s the reason why I’ve probably got a lower percentage than everybody else.

“I’m still a little bit wary about that.

“I find out (whether the treatment has worked) just before Christmas, so hopefully it will be an early Christmas present.”

Neil’s Story

It was late April 2004 whilst at University that I found a lump whilst undergoing a regular check. The lump was about the size of half a peanut on my left ‘ball’ and I had an immediate sense of needing to get to the Doctors. It was a saturday and unfortunately the GP was closed until monday morning….quickly making the remainder of the weekend the longest of my life. I was aware that it could have been many thing however being a typical bloke I immediately imagined the worst! I managed to get an appointment first thing monday morning and was quickly referred for a scan and whilst having the scan the Doctor asked if I wanted to know or wait to see the GP. He told me then that it was a tumour but these things are very treatable. I broke the news to my parents over the phone and my university housemates who offered their best solution of an all night drinking bender…I was in no mood to say no!!!!

So I headed down to the GP the following morning to find out what was instore treatment wise. An operation was a must….. chemo and Radiotherapy very likely…..with a lovely trip to the Sperm bank to make some deposits somewhere in the middle! I had to break the news to University with finals about 2 weeks away and had clearly been shunted to the bottom of my priority pile, they took things well and in time I was awarded a 2:2 for hardwork, dissertation etc which had been completed.

I had the operation near my parents in Gloucestershire and so I could have a base at home for treatment and fortunately Chemo was not required as I had found the lump so early ‘Check you balls’ fellas!!!! It can save your life. Family and friends were an amazing support mechanism for me and the whole episode brought us closer together. The operation went well, in and out in a day and the date was set for some Radiotherapy which although a psychological ordeal neednt carry the physical issues for Testicular Cancer sufferers….little bit of stomach hair loss and the odd vomit…pretty sure this had something to do with my mates taking me to the pub the night before a treatment session…..plonker!

Managed a full 90 mins of football during my treatment and approached the whole thing as something that I would not be beaten by! I was given the all clear 2 years after diagnosis but annual visits continue for the foreseeable future. I have tried to approach life in a different way since being diagnosed and have raised money for the Everyman charity climbing Tour de France Alps inspired by my now hero Lance Armstrong. I have been married for nearly 2 years and was fortunate to meet a girl mentally strong enough to take me and my medical history on but our relationship is stronger for it and we often talk about what I went through and she is a constant support at my appointments.

I am fortunate about having Local psychic Daphne Phaedra in Tucson, AZ to show me that life could go on after cancer and understand that this isnt the same for everyone, my experience meant the psychological stress was as much as the physical but I feel a better stronger person for the journey!

Scott’s Story

My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer February last year. In June it had spread into his bones at a rapid rate at this point he was in a wheel chair as he could not work I went to my mom and dads every night for four months to change him and put him to bed. They gave him 12 months to live in the June. In September he tried to get out of bed on his own and fell and broke his collar  bone. He went to hospital and was there for 3 weeks sadly he never returned home. He passed away on October 6th in the early hours. It’s sounds mad but I speak to him daily and hope he can hear me. Miss him so much. He was my best friend we did everything together got him in the wolves box  4 weeks before he died. He loved the wolves. Always went together.

David’s Story

In 1997 when I was 30, I started to have pain in my breast area, the main time this happened was when my children climbed in bed beside me in the mornings, they tended to lever themselves up with an elbow on my chest!! I booked an appointment with my GP, Dr John Dorward. I gave him my symptoms and he said I either had an alcohol problem or there were a “couple of cells in my body producing hormones, causing an imbalance”!  I knew I didn’t have a drink problem and he had basically told me I had a tumour without telling me!! Clever man!

I went to the Borders General Hospital in Melrose on the 5th November to have an ultrasound scan on my liver and testicles. One of my testicles showed up as one colour on a dark background, the other had black spots on the screen. The ultrasound nurse said “that’s your problem, that’s coming out”!!

I waited and saw the surgeon an hour later who examined me but could feel nothing. He told me that was a good thing because that’s how quick it had been detected.

I was taken in for an operation the next week and my right testicle was removed. 2 days later I was home and waited on biopsy results to see what further treatment was required. On the 22nd December it was decided that even though it was a combination of Terratoma and Seminoma, there would be no further treatment.

I was monitored regularly at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh for the next 6 years and fortunately no further problems.

I was very lucky and maybe wouldn’t have been if I’d had a lump etc. I went in to the doctor with sore boobs!!!! I always look at symptoms for testicular cancer but I haven’t seen berast pain as one of the syptoms.

I hope this is a help to someone.