Testicular cancer is unusual compared to other cancers because it tends to affect younger men. James was just 27 years old when he found himself in front himself of consultant urological surgeon, Mr Asif Muneer, facing a confirmed diagnosis. This is his story.
"During our meetings before the procedure Mr Muneer couldn’t have done more to comfort and reassure me – I truly felt as though I was being cared for personally and not just as another patient".
James first noticed that something was not right while away on holiday, “Thankfully I have always been conscious of self-examining, but when I started experiencing symptoms, including a dull ache in the affected area and lower abdomen, I knew that something was wrong. I didn’t know what to do and naturally, I thought the worst”. Upon returning home, James booked an appointment with his GP. Despite having researched his symptoms online he did not fully appreciate their severity and did not think to request an emergency appointment. James saw his GP some two weeks later and, after an examination, was immediately referred to UCLH.
On his first visit to UCLH, James met his consultant urological surgeon, Mr Asif Muneer, who examined him and performed a scrotal ultrasound. This procedure confirmed the worst of his fears - that James had an aggressive form of testicular cancer and would need to have the affected testical removed (an orchidectomy procedure). “The news came as a shock. I struggled to absorb the news at first and didn’t fully appreciate the procedure that would be involved. Mr Muneer explained carefully why it was necessary and reassured that I would be able to function completely as normal with the remaining testicle”.
James was immediately listed for surgery. At this point he met clinical nurse specialist (CNS) Clare Akers, “Clare Akers was fantastic. She provided me with a direct point of contact at the hospital and kept everything moving extremely quickly. She took her time to explain the whole process and answer all of the questions I had”. Within the month James had successfully had his operation, “The whole pre-operation process was very well planned and took place promptly. During our meetings before the procedure Mr Muneer couldn’t have done more to comfort and reassure me – I truly felt as though I was being cared for personally and not just as another patient”.
"Although I didn’t experience any problems after the operation, my CNS Clare was always at the end of a telephone if I needed help or reassurance".
James spent just one night in hospital after his procedure, “During my stay the hospital staff were all extremely friendly and caring. It came across that patient care was the most important focus – I didn’t feel rushed to vacate the bed; the nursing staff wanted me to feel as comfortable as possible before discharging me. Staff took their time to discuss what I should do and what I would experience during recovery - and what to do should I experience any difficulties”. James’ recovery went very well and he experienced very few side effects, “Although I didn’t experience any problems after the operation, my CNS Clare was always at the end of a telephone if I needed help or reassurance”.
After a follow up appointment with Mr Muneer, James had his care transferred to Barts Health NHS Trust for further follow up and treatment, including a course of chemotherapy. “I was reluctant to tell my family about the cancer, and I hadn’t told them about it prior to surgery. I wanted to get all of the facts clear before telling them. When I found out that I needed chemotherapy, I couldn’t keep it from them any longer as the hair loss would have been obvious. My family and I are really close so I guess I felt as though I was protecting them. It was such a relief to have them know what was going on with me; it was much easier than I thought”.
James’ treatment with UCLH has now finished, but his journey will continue at St Barts, “One of my main concerns about chemotherapy was that it would be extremely debilitating. The oncology (cancer) doctor told me that there was no reason I couldn’t go on a holiday that I had been looking forward to for so long – I just had to take extra precautions in terms of UV exposure. There have been no real long-term changes to my life following my treatment. The chemotherapy has not limited what I can do, just the intensity that I could function during treatment, and for a short period afterwards".
Since leaving UCLH, James now looks to the future, “I am very much looking forward – I immediately booked a couple of trips with family and friends once I had been given the all clear from my first post-treatment scan”.