This time seven years ago I had two testicles, now I have none, you work it out...
To those that know me, will not be shocked by this statement, but I am late to the party for Movember this year. Don’t get me wrong, I have been growing my Mo since 1st of November and proudly talking about it to anyone who gives me a sideways glance on a zoom call about my hirsuteness. But I have stayed away from writing anything and publishing my usual request for cash and stories for awareness.
It’s been a very strange year in a number of ways. COVID has changed the way we work, shop, socialise — every part of our lives has been affected. It has also pushed other medical stories and work off the front pages and has become the key topic we discuss. As we start to see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a stark reminder that other illnesses haven’t gone away. We can’t focus purely on COVID and ignore the six men diagnosed with testicular cancer every day. We can’t forget that every minute of every day, a man in this world decides he can’t take any more and takes his life. These things aren’t going away whilst COVID captures everyone’s attention.
It's also been a difficult year for me, and that’s probably the reason why it’s taken me so long to put out my Movember stall so to speak. Last year, I received my five-year all-clear from testicular cancer and was discharged from the care of my oncologist. Once I had dealt with the emotional demons that it brought up, I was riding high; I’d been offered a new job; I’d proposed to my girlfriend (she said yes, it was a good story). In what wasn’t my best-timed holiday, I was away during part of Movember 2019 and was kicking myself that I couldn’t do more events to raise awareness‚ but I was in the sunshine after all and gaining a permanent tan line where my Mo was should earn me some brownie points.
And then in the shower, I felt it: a lump in my remaining testicle. We endured the remainder of the holiday rather than enjoyed it, both keen to get back and have our minds put at rest. It surely couldn’t happen again? After conversations you don’t want, and decisions you want someone else to make for you, the verdict was returned. I had cancer again. But not the same type, the more aggressive version. I think having experienced this before, I was definitely better prepared for the battle mentally. I was also lucky, with no vascular invasion I didn’t need chemotherapy this time and I’ve not long received the one year all clear.
But by my side throughout, were my loved ones and of course, Movember, in the form of a WhatsApp group with other ambassadors providing encouragement and an offer to talk if needed, members of the team calling to check-in or dropping me emails; a get well Mo box sent to my house. I learned lessons on how to deal with what was coming both physically and mentally via Movember and whilst I wouldn’t describe it as a breeze, I think I managed it considerably better.
Yes, it’s been a strange year. But I’ve been privileged to be able to share my story and the work that Movember does through virtual events, videos, press articles, podcasts and now, finally, social media.