Monday 19 August 2019

Colm Tóibín in powerful reflection on his 'one sad, lonely ball' after cancer treatment

Colm Tóibín
Colm Tóibín
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Author Colm Tóibín has revealed his diagnosis and treatment for testicular cancer.

The award-winning author (63) was in LA last year when he first realised that one of his testicles was swollen and had become increasingly painful.

Last June he made an appointment with a urologist in Dublin, who "seemed concerned" and carried out a series of blood tests and an ultrasound on his testicles.

His consultant put him on antibiotics in the meantime and the swollen veins in his testicle disappeared but he noticed that one of them had also gotten harder and bigger.

Writing in the 'London Review of Books', Tóibín described how the decision was made to remove his right testicle as further tests were carried out.

"A week later the phone rang and I was told that I had a cancer of the testicles that had spread to a lymph node and to one lung," he wrote.

"Instead of seeing the urologist, I would now need to see an oncologist.

"For a few days I comforted myself by pretending that, because of my abiding interest in the mysteries and niceties of being, I had to see an oncologist. Nobody except one of my fellow Irish novelists thought this was funny."

The only option open was chemotherapy, namely four week-long sessions of it with a break of two weeks in between each session.

It was also discovered that the cancer had spread to his liver and he would need a more intensive course of treatment.

After being released from hospital, he spent the weekend of Pope Francis's visit to Ireland in August 2018 'drinking morphine' to get through the pain.

Tóibín, who's best known for 'The Master', said that by the end of his treatment he barely recognised himself as he talked to his reflection in the mirror.

"It would take a while before his hair and his eyebrows began to grow again. It would take him even longer to get used to having only one sad, lonely ball," he wrote.

Irish Independent

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