It was just before my 28th birthday. I kept having pains just above the base of my penis and that's when I noticed the lump. At first I though it was a strange place to have a lump but doing the job I was doing (delivering and lifting heavy goods) my immediate thoughts were 'oh it's a hernia'. Back then checking your testicles was something that never crossed your mind because it was a taboo subject. It just wasn't discussed. I made an appointment with my GP and at the surgery I explained what I've found and that I thought it was a hernia. Following the consultation with my GP he referred me to Mr Nigel Allen, a specialist at MSG. On the day I attended MSG Mr Allen called me into his office and I started to explain where the lump was and how long it had been there. After a quick examination Mr Allen sat me down and said it wasn't a hernia but he wanted me to go for a scan. This was arranged and the scan went well. A repeat visit with Mr Allen was then arranged quickly and that's when I started to worry. I was told it wasn't a hernia it was a testicle. I was puzzled as to how and why it was up there and not down where it should be.
He explained that the scan showed a testicle, a quarter of the size it should be and the van deferens cord was twisted. This caused concern as it was unknown how long it had been there and the likely hood of it turning cancerous was high. A CT scan was arranged followed by another appointment. This appointment was more serious.
The CT scan showed the testicle was effectively dead and could turn cancerous if not removed or treated. The choices were a course of treatment followed by scans to check on its progress or complete removal of the testicle. My decision was instant. Removal. I didn't want the risk of maybe it will maybe it won't turn cancerous. Besides, I had another one which I was informed was doing the job of two. The idea of having a prosthetic was discussed and rejected.
An Inguinal Orchiectomy took place followed by a week's bed rest and just under 3 month off work. Because of where the testicle was Mr Allen had to cut the muscle and nerves to extract it. To this day the top of my left leg and groin area is still numb.
When i hear people joke about checking themselves I tell them my story and their facial expressions change and the joking stops. Yes, I've had all the jokes made about me, been called Womble and all the banter that goes with the workplace (and there's a lot) but what matters is that I'm still here and thanks to people at MUG and other charities, awareness is improving, the stigma associated with self examination is going away and talking about it is no longer a taboo subject.