While the cancer I have is mostly survivable, discovering a lump and treating it was a jolt I was entirely unprepared for.
It was the beginning of November 2015, and I’d just got back from road-trippin’ through the USA with my good friend, James. I was home and back at my academy – I teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – and everything was normal. I’d had a small rash thing irritating me on my wrist before I went to the USA with James, and since I’d been back it was still there. It’d have been on my wrist for a good three weeks. I decided to book in with my doc to get it checked out and get some cream or whatever. I was booked in for Thursday morning that week.
So, Tuesday night at training, everything was standard – a little tired but nothing out of the ordinary – then Wednesday night at the academy I was a bit sore in my balls/dodger area. I sat out sparring/rolling that night and just watched. I felt a little odd down in the privates but I thought it’d work itself out. That night, I awoke in pain during the night. I woke up and was really sore in my balls. I thought, “Shit, maybe I need to just pass something,” so I got up and had a big pee.
Then, sitting on the toilet, I felt my balls. Then I noticed a lump on my right testicle. And it felt about the size of a small dice. I immediately thought the worst and couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I just lay there thinking, “Fuck! Do I have cancer? What the fuck do I do if I have cancer!?”
The next morning I didn’t tell my girl anything about it. I didn’t want to freak her out in case it was something small and all was okay.
I’ve had two total strangers jumble my knackers today, I’ve eaten nothing, and here I am on the couch, patting my cat, thinking I might have cancer.
So I went to see the doc about my rash thing on my wrist and thought to myself, “I gotta bring up the pain in my balls to her. It’ll be embarrassing but I have to, right?”. So I see her and she gives me some cream for the rash and then she asks me, “anything else?”, like she knows. I say quietly, “Umm…yeah. So I, umm…I have this pain in my privates.” She immediately tells me to jump on the doc’s bed and take my dacks off. So there I am, with my bits all exposed and my doc rumbling all around up in it. She feels my testicle and she says, “Yeah, we need to send you off to have scans of your testicles to get a better examination of what’s going on down there.”
Again, I immediately think the worst. She says to me, “Let’s get these scans done before we move forward, but let’s do it ASAP.” I ask her to please keep this quiet and not tell my girl, ’cause she works in the medical centre where my doctor, is and I’m sure they’re friends. She is a psychologist. “Don’t tell her, ’til we know exactly what it is,” I plead, and off I trot to QSCAN.
When I get to QSCAN, I go for an ultrasound on my balls. I think that’s what it’s called? This lad has me on the bed in the scan room and my bits all exposed again and I’m all embarrassed. There’s jelly all over my particulars and this guy has this thing that looks and feels like a barcode scanner and he’s rubbing it all over my bits, stopping every few seconds to take photos (with the machine) of obviously certain parts of my balls. It goes on for a while. I think…the longer this goes on…the worse the result is for me.
The guys finish up after about 40 minutes in there and says to me, “Right, we are all done. Here’re some wipes. Once you’ve cleaned yourself off, please wait out in the foyer.” So there I was, jelly’d up knackers and all, alone in this room, cleaning my privates with baby wipes and feeling stranded. I left that room, and I knew. I knew it was bad news, that I was going to be diagnosed with cancer.
I got my scans, drove home, and I contemplated what had just transpired for the day.
I woke, I went to the doc’s, I’ve had two total strangers jumble my knackers today, I’ve eaten nothing, and here I am on the couch, patting my cat, thinking I might have cancer…what the fuck am I going to do!?
I had to wait ’til the next day for the results. Those 24 hours were the longest in my life. Well…that’s what I thought at the time.
The worst was yet to come.
After I got home from getting the scans done, I sat and contemplated what had just transpired, and what to do next. I held a part-time job as well as the six days a week I was teaching at my jiu-jitsu academy, and I knew I wasn’t going to work the next day. So I messaged my boss (who also happens to be a good friend and student of mine) and told her I needed the next day off as I “needed to go back to the doc’s again tomorrow”.
I would not go back to work for close to four months.
With work out of the way, I pondered how to not freak out my girl with the vicious events of the day. I knew when she walked in the door that evening, the first words out of her mouth would be “Hi, sweetie! How’s our boy? (Our cat.) How’d you go at the doctor’s today?”. So in she walks – and when she walks in the room, she brightens up your day, because she’s just the sunshine on anyone’s cloudy day – and my answer? “Oh, it was all good. I got some cream for that rash thing on my wrist, nothing too bad.”
I just couldn’t tell her.
So our evening went as usual. Pat the cat, shower, get in our PJ’s and wind down for the night. She started to cook dinner as I sat on the couch to relax. Then, I reckon I lasted all of 10 minutes before I thought, “Fuck it.” We’re too close and honest with each other and we never kept secrets. It’s been that way since day one of our relationship.
I tried, because I didn’t want to upset her before I knew for sure, because she is so beautiful and amazing, but I knew, I fucking knew from the moment I’d woken up that night and felt the lump in my knackers that it was bad, that it was the horrible and petrifying word we all hate to even say – that it was cancer – and if it’s that bad and that’s the diagnosis I’d hear the following day returning to the doctor’s, well, fuck, she deserved to know and she deserved to know then and there.
So, I stood up from the couch, I took a deep breath and I told her what had happened at the doctor’s and what I’d been through that day. I told her that the following day I’d find out for sure what the scans come back as. Thumbs up…or thumbs down.
The doctor handed us tissues then went on to explain that it was testicular cancer. She was very professional and helpful. But I didn’t hear a word she said. Not one.
She immediately started to cry. And when a single tear drops from her eyes, my whole world crumbles, because I hate to see her cry. So we just embraced for a while and cried a little. Then I told her, “Let’s not panic, let’s just wait and see what the results say. It may not be as bad as we think.”
I was wrong.
We ate dinner and went to bed. The conversations that night were not the same.
Friday morning we woke like any other morning. She was up earlier than me and off to work. She works upstairs from my doctor and agreed to meet with me to see the doctor together. I, on the other hand, had breakfast and waited. Now people forget. It’s not like the movies. You just don’t turn up at the doctor’s and walk on in. You have to make the appointment and wait.
My appointment wasn’t ’til around midday. So I was up contemplating the results and my “time” took forever.
I waited, waited and waited.
Then, finally, my name was called, and my girl and I entered the doctor’s room.
She knew we were awaiting the results and she cut right to it – something I later really respected.
The walls of the room tilted in on me. My hands went white and moist, my lips went dry and I instantly felt like I weighed mere grams. I slumped in my chair for a brief second as I noticed my girl look at me and tear up. As she teared up, I “manned up” as they say, and corrected my posture. I pretended I was cool. But I was the opposite. I remember this like it was yesterday.
The doctor handed us tissues as we had a little cry, then went on to explain that it was testicular cancer, and blah blah about how 90 percent of this type of cancer is treatable and I will be okay, I won’t die from this. She was very professional and helpful in her explanation. But I didn’t hear a word she said. Not one.So…umm, what do we do now?”
You don’t think about this, do you? You never think about the thought that one day you – yep, you – might get cancer. And when you do…what do you do? Seriously. What do you do after they say, “You have cancer”? What’s the next step? Where do you go from here? We went home.
We went home and sat on the couch and were silent for about a minute. That minute was the longest 60 seconds of my life. Because both of us just didn’t know what to say to each other. Then we just embraced each other and cried. I think we cried for about an hour straight.
Everything just stopped. Our entire lives had come to a halt.
And nothing would be the same again.