'A macho attitude won't help' - mixed crop farmer on testicular cancer diagnosis
Cancer is a scary word but when "testicular" lands in front of it, some men find it even harder to accept.
Instead of acknowledging the lump found in the shower and talking to someone, anyone, about it, some will ignore it and hope it all just goes away. Others demonstrate an innately macho, almost stubborn, attitude against going to the local clinic and asking a doctor to inspect their private area.
But the truth is, problems manifest in silence.
Julian Hughes, a mixed crop farmer from Kilkenny, is not one of these men. Last May, the 32-year-old noticed that something "didn't feel quite right". At first he thought it might have been caused by an awkward knock playing rugby but after three weeks without change, Julian took action. He has never looked back. He recently got the six-month "all clear" and describes the rewards of early detection as "exponential".
"I went to the doctor on a Thursday, got a scan on Monday and hadn't even arrived home by the time my doctor called and said there is something here that warrants further investigation," he said.
Despite this extremely difficult blow, Julian's determination to beat the illness suddenly kicked into overdrive when he found out his wife, Valerie, was pregnant with their first child.
"On the morning the doctor said I had cancer we didn't know that Val was pregnant but I just had a feeling that she was. I remember going down to the farm and looking around and saying I really want to be here when my child is born to show them around the place," Julian told the Farming Independent.
Ten days later he underwent an operation to remove the cancerous lump. But he wasn't out of the woods yet. "They removed the cancerous testicle but found it had jumped up my body so there was a lymph-node, cancerous in its appearance, around my spine behind the two main arteries to my heart, in a very difficult spot," he said.