Mark's TC Story

I'm now 28 years old and back in 1989 I noticed a feeling in my left ball. I had just become a firefighter and was in great shape, running 7-8 miles a day and lifting weights for fun! One day while pulling up my fire leggings the pain became apparent. A few days later the pain was still there. I went to my doctor, and he told me that this was due to an infection in my ball. This quack gave me penicillin and told me that it would clear up. A few weeks later the pain was still there, I went back and was told to repeat the course!!!

Another few weeks passed and I returned and was then sent to the local hospital. A Chinese doctor told me that I was to remain there overnight, this of course was a great shock and I told him that I would rather call back in a few days time because I had made plans to party that night. He replied "Its your goolies we are talking about here--get into bed!".

The next day I was sent for tests and a doctor came round to tell me the score!! He mentioned 2 words to me: TUMOUR and TRAUMA. I had no idea what these were, so he told me trauma meant that the ball had been hit or twisted. I remember asking what the other meant and he said it meant Cancer. I remember as if it was only a few minutes ago telling him to "Fuck off, only old people get that!!" [boy was I in for a surprise!] They brought what must have been hundreds of doctors, students, nurses etc, etc in have a look at their showpiece! We used to joke that they must be in the streets selling tickets.

The day came when I signed the form to let them open me up and if they thought the ball was cancerous, to take it away!! The guy came around and shaved me telling me not to worry that it was all the fashion that year. A guy came around and marked a large "X" above my right ball! I asked him why he did this and he said that it was the ball to be removed. !! **ALERT ALERT**!! The right ball was not the ball to be removed! The guy quickly changed this "X" as he went a strange shade of black as my grip on his throat tightened.

A few hours later I woke up one ball short of a pair!! I kept thinking that it was so funny to shout that it was the quickest that anyone had ever lost a stone!! The doctors came around on Friday afternoon, and informed me that yes the ball had been cancerous but they did not know if it had spread and if it had, then how far!! The results would be there a Monday. What a weekend! Doctors in the hospital can actually prescribe Guinness to help build up a patient. The nurses helped out there, and I had a deeply alcohol dulled weekend!

On Monday the results came through. There was spread into my gut and cause for concern in my chest. I went to see the top man of cancer in the North of Ireland. He told me the sooner I began a series of chemo courses the better. Then he told me that no beds were available, it was funny how similar the shade of black he turned matched the previous guy!!

My parents were lost for words. My dad is, it must be said, my hero. He worked 12 hours a day 351 days a year swinging a sledge hammer in a scrap yard, he was a real tough guy, but he was flattened by it all. No one knew what to say or how to say it. Old women said they were "sorry for my troubles" and one friend actually said "Is it true you have cancer, cause my uncle died in agony of that!". I didn't take offence because I knew that he knew no better and meant no harm!

The chemo started [in for one week out for two for a series of 5] 4 stone of pure muscle, one headful of hair and lot of fair weather friends fell by the wayside. Even in my darkest hour humour still existed! Once totally bald the nurses offered me a choice of wigs, the ginger one looking like mats that you would wipe your feet on! THANKS, BUT NO THANKS!!

In my driving licence I have long hair, so when a soldier stopped me and said sarcastically "there's a great change in you" my wife said quick as a bullet "yeah, chemo has that effect"--I don't think the soldier will ever recover from that. I also had the smell problem, I'd say to people "Jesus Christ, can you not smell that what's wrong with you all??" to the slightest smell.

After 4 chemos I had to go for my first scan to find out the score. The doctor sat me down and before hand said the positive possible outcomes

  1. The spread had slowed down
  2. The spread had stopped
  3. The spread had been started to be reversed
  4. All clear!

My dad who aged a lifetime in a few months went with me to hear the results. I went in alone. The stone faced doc read a chart mumbling "lymph clear, chest clear, abs clear mumble, mumble, mumble" WHATS THE SCORE DOC. WHATS THE SCORE DOC TELL ME TELL ME NOW I NEED TO KNOW!

"Remarkable, all clear, but hold your horses--this isn't the end you need more chemo. We don't want this thing back" NUFF SAID DOC

I went into the waiting room were my dad was sitting very drawn. When I told him the result he punched the air. No money in the world could buy the pleasure I felt when I seen him do this. This moment will live with me forever.

The last chemo came and went. The weekly tests, the monthly tests, the yearly tests came and went and I've been all clear since and I know that I will remain so. I am back at being a firefighter, back to my previous weight but with a little more in the waistline department. There's so much more that I could tell you {the trip to the sperm clinic is a scream but I'll keep that for another time!!}...

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