Updated July 1, 2003

Martin and his Orb

March 2002

Prosthesis, a Falsie, or even jokingly called an Orb. This is why you have chosen to read this Personal Story. You've probably had TC, Testicular cancer, losing either one or both of your testicles. I know too well it is not easy to accept even the loss of one, for that is a basic attack upon your manhood. Two can be devastating. So I welcome you to read on.

I can only give you my point of view, as a man who found his partner before I knew TC existed and had many years with her before the surgeon's knife was sharpened. If you have yet to find your partner or even the physical look is paramount to you, then I hope what I write will be of help. It will give you an insight of the worrying first few weeks and a few simple adjustments that will take place. But please bear one thought in mind. Being a man comes from your heart. I know. It took quite awhile for me to come to terms with my demons, and it is up to each of us to come to terms with theirs.

In 1994, at the age of 44, I lost my first testicle due to cancer. I was devastated as I said, but as time passed, I accepted having only one. The memory of two was also lost, so to me it felt normal.

Eight years on, due to a non-cancerous reason the second was removed. It was an easy decision, as it had given me great discomfort on and off for several years. But nevertheless, I had to face the reality that I could no longer naturally produce the balance hormone testosterone. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) was with me for the rest of my life.

I also decided to get a single prosthesis, as I wanted to have something there and as I have said, I had no memory of having two. So five weeks ago, at the age of 52, I became the owner of a Mentor Testicular Prosthesis. These first few weeks have been difficult, and at times I have questioned my thinking. Was I doing the right thing? Despite all my research, I had questions but no answers.

So let's get to it. One way or another your Prosthesis is in place, and you are moderately sore. At first you may think that you have been given what King Kong rejected, but this is because the scrotum wall has thickened due to the surgery. The Prosthesis is initially secured at the top and bottom. After a few days I became concerned that I had been given a far greater size than I could live with. The fact that it sat almost wedged at the base of the penis didn't help. But after around four weeks the top dissolvable stitch goes away and the swelling starts to subside. This leaves the only anchor point at the base of the scrotum, allowing natural movement, i.e. lower when you are hot, higher when cold and also during lovemaking. Well you don't want the thing bashing around out of control, do you. Or do you?

Anyway, the new baby look is starting to fade as the hairs return. Wearing something snug and cotton is a good idea, so that scrotum to leg chaffing does not happen. Everything I had was uncomfortable as the elastic tightened on the scar from the orchiectomy. Besides, in Australia we had a spell of very hot weather, and everything else was just plain too hot. All I can say is that weird remedies come out of 'strange' events. I wrapped a handkerchief around my scrotum then tied it at the base of the penis. Not something for the fashion conscious but when you are one size down from King Kong it doesn't really matter. absorption of the perspiration and comfort was my main objective. And boy it was comfortable.

As I said, after a few weeks the swelling goes down and the prosthesis starts to sit normally. If you have only just had one removed, then it will sit in a position you are used to. Having one or two removed earlier, the scrotum retracts in adjustment, so don't be impatient, a normal look will take time. One final thing I have had to get used to. Being not connected by any blood vessels, temperature is controlled by body heat. But beware that it does take longer to cool down and longer to warm up. Not uncomfortable, but a strange feeling.

So in conclusion there are several types of prosthesis on the market. Silicon with a liquid type centre which I have heard are more flexible, but more prone to rupture. The Mentor is more solid and from my research is far safer. [Editor's Note: Only Saline filled implants are readily available in the US. Martin has a silicone elastomer prosthesis.]

So, you may ask, am I happy with my implant? Honestly? NO.

It is heavier than a real testicle, and it feels like an egg shaped golf ball. A foreign object and almost mechanical. But it is still the early days, so this is how I feel now. We may be friends, but never mates. But I ask you to ask yourself one question. Do you want something in your scrotum? If your answer is no, then be happy with your choice, knowing that you can always change your mind. If your answer is yes, then accept what is safely available on the market at the moment. Know though that you can always update when there is something better, or at any time you can have it removed.

June 2002

Four months have passed since I took possession of my new prosthesis. It is the right time now to give you an update. I wrote my original story with doubt. It was early then and, perhaps, unfair to help you in your decision. But now my comments can be objective, so you the reader will be able to decide on the path that you would like to take.

When I wrote earlier I hated having it as much as I hated not having anything at all. True, I have only one, to replace my last remaining testicle. To remain, as I thought, the same after losing my first to cancer. But it will never be the same, only different.

After the hype and newness had gone away, realisation set in. My hormone levels were low, and that intensified my self doubt about the decision. It was foreign and strange and not like a real one. Obviously I cannot comment on what it would be like having two false ones, or even just one to compliment a remaining real one. But now I know one thing. Acceptance, or rejection, is all up to the individual.

Physically? All is well. Maybe I have been lucky, for as yet I have had none of the 'phantom pains'. My new 'friend' sits as my old one used to. It never objects and now never gives me a feeling of discomfort. Only every now and then I retract into a deep thought, that this man made object keeps me from the realisation that I have no testicles of my own.

Sure, I am in my middle years and I have learned that life has too many hurdles to create more for oneself. Nobody can be more harsh or critical to you than yourself. But after a while what you have, in any of the variants connected with testicular cancer, is naturally accepted and the memory of what you once had, fades into history. Time is the healer and manhood is in the heart and, provided that your hormone levels are kept in check, then a fruitful life is ahead of you.

In finishing my postscript, I would like to share with you the comments of a person whose dear friend had had breast cancer, losing both. She elected to have two implants to retain the physical look. It took her nearly a year to accept them as her own, for she always felt that they were on the outside of her body. In effect, visitors. It was only when she embraced them as her own, completely, with all their advantages and all their faults, her life became complete.

This is what I have done. Surviving cancer, a new prosthesis and now testosterone implants. Life will never be the same. Just different. So you have had your 'Time Out'. This was when the shock, the surgery and treatment of your cancer took place. The struggle, to find the emotional help, to cope with the adjustments to be made in your life. And most importantly the acceptance of whom you are now. And 'Time To Move On?' Exactly that. You are still alive, a winner in the battle against cancer. Regardless of having or not a prosthesis, able to function as a man. And with all this combined, the ability to adjust.

June 2003

It has now been one year since I wrote the 'postscript,' and I thought it would be important to finalise this Personal Story.'

I would say that it took nine months for everything to settle down, for it to sit as it should sit and to make any mental adjustments automatic. I no longer remember the days when I had real ones, yet I am aware that the one I have now is not. But the priority associated to it has now diminished and it is no longer the focal point in my life. To sum up, time is the key factor. In the beginning life became different, but given time, normality, as you see it, will return.

Am I still happy with it, you may ask? Well, it is better than nothing I suppose. I would still prefer some real ones, that is, if I could remember what they were like. But at the end of the day, Orb is now part of me, and I would not be without him.

Martin Yalden
Melbourne Australia

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