It’s OK to be scared about cancer – Pete’s story

It’s ok to be scared about cancer


It really is normal to be scared about cancer. I was and I still am despite 2 encounters. Here’s what happened to me


1. Quite by chance I noticed a lump in my throat in the bathroom mirror while checking my teeth. I thought my Adam’s Apple had moved as it wasn’t central. Eventually I was sent for tests and was told that I had 2 goiters (or lumps) in my thyroid. I had no idea what that meant and so eventually looked on the internet. Bloody hell – this could be serious. After 18m of ultrasound scans and needle biopsies I was told the lumps had increased in size and it was recommended that I have the entire thyroid out. This was arranged quickly and, as they still didn’t know if it was cancer or not, bits of the thyroid were sent away for analysis. It was a hell of a surprise to be told a few weeks later that there were cancerous cells present and I then had a weekend in hospital having radium ablation treatment to kill off any remnants. All quite unpleasant and I now have to take levothyroxine every day which carries out the function of the thyroid. All in all a great concern as I’d spent 18m being told all tests were “inconclusive” – but it turned out it was cancer.


Two years of uncertainty, a fairly big operation and a weekend in hospital – yes I was bloody scared. Now I have a check every 6 months and 5 years later I’m still free of cancer in the head and neck area.


All very unpleasant and I was scared – but kept thinking about the alternative. The alternative is much worse. So, to anyone in the same situation, it’s ok to be scared – but it’s something which must be done and can be done; and it’s not painful. Also, you get a scar on your neck which is also a topic of conversation (until it fades after a year or so) and you can make up some great Frankenstein stories !!


2. Lying in the bath and, thanks to Balls to Cancer, I was having a “fumble”, and ……………what the hell is that ?? There’s something there in my scrotum which shouldn’t be there. What is that? It’s a swelling which shouldn’t be there and hasn’t been there before. Testicular cancer ???  I check the internet – it can’t be as at 62 years old I’m too old. A benefit of being 60+ at last. So self diagnosis led me to think it was varicoceles. Phew


I went to see my GP and he agreed, but to be sure sent me for an ultrasound scan. This showed it was not varicoceles so now I’m worried again. The radiologist said it might be a hernia and so I get to see a consultant urologist. He isn’t sure at all so I have another ultrasound scan to check kidneys, check for a hernia and check the left testicle again. This time the radiologist says it could be a hernia but she thinks it’s a third testicle which could have been in my abdomen for all of my life and has now descended into the scrotum. Now I’m sent for a CT scan and there’s going to be a case conference to discuss what to do, what it is, what it might be ………. CT scan shows no hernia and so I’m told by the Consultant that it’s best to have a “small” operation to remove the lump and have it tested.


Oh no, not again I thought. Just like with my thyroid they didn’t know what that was, removed it tested it and it was cancer


The operation is planned for a week later which adds to my apprehension – why so urgent ?? It takes place on a Friday afternoon and they remove two lumps and the testicle. Now I wait for the results of the tests they’re going to carry out. As I’m coming round the surgeon visits and tells me he doesn’t think it’s cancer


Ten days later I get a letter to say that the lump was a “benign fatty lump which requires no further investigation or treatment” What a relief. Logic told me it couldn’t have been cancer at my age, but nevertheless I had been very worried.


The incision wound hurts like hell and it’s recommended to take 6 – 8 weeks to recover, but that’s ok as it’s not cancer


So, 2-0 to me


It’s ok to be scared about cancer. I was, and still remain concerned that I might get it again one day. However I have great faith in the Health Service and the skill of the staff.

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