A couple of weeks ago, things took a bad turn. I discovered a lump, in one of those places that you don't want to find lumps. So I went to see a doctor, who sent me for an ultrasound, which I had last Wednesday. The ultrasound was interesting - that gel you see getting slapped on pregnant women is really cold. The ultrasound guy didn't like what he saw, and told me that there was definitely a tumor there, and he wanted me to see a specialist soon. Would later that day be ok? I declined, and said that I'd go see my GP first.
So I made another appointment with my GP, for that evening. As things turned out, I didn't make it. The train was delayed on the way home, and I was too late for the appointment. The receptionist wouldn't let me see him at 5:40. Damn. So I made an appointment for the next morning, and went home. After about 20 mins, the receptionist called me, and told me that my doctor wanted to see me NOW, and apologised for not letting me in. Then my doctor called me, and asked me if I could come down to see him. I have to admit, I was scared at this point. I've heard all sorts of things about the NHS and its legendary effeciency, and this didn't fit what I was expecting. However, I also knew that they didn't fuck around with Tescicular Cancer, so I was prepared for the worst.
I haven't mentioned Testicular Cancer before now. That's what I was thinking, and that's apparently what the doctor and ultrasound guy were thinking too. TC is the most common cancer in men aged 20 to 34. Nearly 2000 cases are diagnosed every year in the UK, and the cure rate is abnormally high - 90-95% of all cases diagnosed early are completely cured.
I got to my GP, and he told me that he had made an appointment for me to have an operation the next day, and that they were going to remove one of my testicles. Half an hour after that, the hospital rang me and told me to come in there and then, and that they were waiting for me. So off we went, I had some tests done, and they scheduled me to be at the top of the emergency list the next morning, meaning I was going to have my orchidectomy at 10am on Thursday. Apparently they don't do a biopsy on tesicles through the scrotum, as there is too much of a risk of spreading cancer cells to the endocrinal system, which is located in the scrotum itself. The operation itself was a blast. They gave me a cute anesthetist to look after me, drugged me up, showed me the operating theatre, drugged me up some more and then did the operation. The thing is, I was talking to the anesthetist about something, and then she somehow got replaced by a different voice, and I was in recovery. I got taken back to my room after about an hour, and Anna was there :-) I was drousy as hell though, and needed to get some sleep, so she left me at some point. Next day, I had an ultrasound to see if the cancer had spread anywhere else. After that I got to go home. It was a simple procedure really, and it didn't hurt that much. Now (the day after I came home) it hurts when I move, laugh or cough, but the rest of the time its just a dull ache. I took the bandage off earlier, and the scar is about 4cm long, low on my groin. Oh, and they shaved half my pubic hair too. Not all of it, HALF of it, so I look stupid.
The next step is to get the pathology report back, and see the results. That'll happen on Monday week. At that point, I'll know if the cancer was just an in-situ tumor, or if it is benign, or malignant. They took some blood from me too, so they can look at the levels of AFP (Alpha Feta Protein), BHCG (Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin), and LDH (Lactate DeHydrogenase). Raised levels of these indicate the presence of some cancers (teratomas and mixed cancers), but not others (seminomas for example). If I do have cancer, and need follow up treatment, then AFP, BHCG and LDH levels will show how the treatment is progressing. But I need the pathology report first.
This all went really fast, and I'm not sure yet how I'm adjusting to everything. The loss of a testicle isn't too bad - the other one will make up for it in terms of sperm and testosterone generation. And I don't feel any different without it. I didn't want to have a prosthetic one fitted because... well, I guess that's just me really. I'm not so concerned with my self image that I would go around with a silicon ball. The next week is going to be a bitch though, waiting for the pathology report. I hate waiting for anything, and something as important as this is not fun. Also, the ultrasound found some calcification in the second testicle, and I've just found out that this is indicative of teratoma TC. So there's a good change that I'm going to have to get chemotherapy or radiotherapy. I'm not too worried about it at this point, I think I just have to wait and see what the report says. I'll update this page when I get that though.