Tuesday 28 March 2017

Daffodil Day: Survivor of testicular cancer (35) urges Irish men not to “make a balls” of their health

John Walsh was diagnosed with Testicular cancer aged 35
John Walsh was diagnosed with Testicular cancer aged 35
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

An Irish man who survived Testicular Cancer has opened up about his experience with the disease and urged Irish men to take their health more seriously.

John Walsh (35) from Tipperary was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 just months after his wedding, when he became concerned about an extremely swollen testicle.

“I never thought the dreaded C word could affect me.. I got  married in August and I would be a fairly fit guy so the idea of it just hadn’t crossed my mind,” John said.

“However, one morning I did notice one of my testicles was swollen and it felt abnormal. Although I was a bit reluctant I did head to my GP. I thought it was just a bad infection.”

“I was given antibiotics to treat an infection but in three days the swelling hadn’t gotten any better. In fact, it had become worse. It was at that point I became really concerned and my doctor referred me for an ultrasound and following on from that made an appointment with a specialist.”

“Obviously it was a very scary time and suddenly I was in a situation I never thought I would be in,” he said.

Despite the process, John admitted he was stunned when his doctor diagnosed him with testicular cancer.

“I just didn’t take any of the information he was telling me in. Afterwards I went out to the car, where my wife was waiting and she asked me what he had said. I actually couldn’t remember much, it was all a blur.

A procedure to remove John’s affected testicle was scheduled immediately, but he revealed that telling his family and friends about his diagnosis was a more difficult experience.

"I received some lovely words of support from Tipperary hurler Noel McGrath who I used to work with. Noel went through the same process last year and his encouragement was a huge boost to me”

“My parents and family and my circle of friends are so supportive, but Irish men have this idea that we shouldn’t talk about the things that we really need to be talking about – like testicular and prostate cancer.

“I have a good relationship with my father but he’s a bit old school. As you can imagine it was weird to suddenly talk to him about my balls! I was embarrassed that I had a tumour in my body, and was embarrassed to talk about this. I told myself to get a grip as this is something I certainly didn’t need to be embarrassed about.

“While I didn’t tell my whole group of friends, I told a few of the guys and they were very supportive. They visited me down in Tipperary and it actually opened up a conversation about these things that hadn’t been there before,” said John.

"Lying in a hospital room with two other patients is when it really hit home. A 44 year old man from Cork with three kids and an 85 year old former teacher suffering from prostate cancer. This disease doesn’t care for anyone."

John urges Irish men to regularly check their testicles and to seek medical attention quickly if they are concerned.

“I have to get CT scans every 6 months for the next five years of my life and regular blood testing but I don’t care. I would prefer to be sitting in a hospital room then a coffin.

"I would like to say if anyone is worried or scared to talk about it they can give me a ring or meet for a coffee at any stage for a chat. If I can help or change one young man's life it would be brilliant.

“If you go to the doctor's you are bigger than the man who chooses to ignore the problem. Don’t be a hero. Doctors don’t care. Because they’ve seen it all before.  I was lucky and got it seen to straight away. Others wait. Don’t make a balls of it,” he said.

To support Daffodil Day call 1850 60 60 60 or text DAFF to 50300 to donate €4 to the campaign. Donations can be made online at www.cancer.ie or you can download the Daffodil Day app from app stores in Ireland.

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