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Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK


Testicular cancer: A survivor's story

Colin Usher suffered from testicular cancer

Colin Usher was lucky. His testicular cancer was caught early enough for treatment to be successful.

But Colin admits that he discovered he had a problem purely by "by chance".

He said: "I wasn't really aware of anything concerning testicular cancer. My family background was heart disease and stroke so I got checked out regularly for those."

Then one evening as he was getting undressed Colin realised that a lump that had developed in one of his testicles really did require medical attention.

"I was aware of it being there several weeks beforehand, but it just never occured to me to do anything about it, but on this particular evening I thought: 'Hang on, something needs to be done about this'."

Colin contacted his doctor the following morning, and things began to happen fast.

"Within a couple of hours he had given me a referral to the Royal Marsden Hospital, I had tests over a period of a couple of days and less than a week later I was in surgery.

"At that stage I had one testicle removed. They did a biopsy on that, and after about ten days - ten very long days - they gave me the result to confirm that it was malignant."

Cancer had spread

[ image: Colin underwent three months of chemotherapy]
Colin underwent three months of chemotherapy
Colin then had to wait for the results of further tests to establish whether the cancer had spread to other parts of his body.

Because he had delayed in going to see a doctor, it was bad news.

"It turned out that the cancer had spread to my lung and it meant that I had to start a three month course of chemotherapy," he said.

Colin's chemotherapy treatment consisted of four three-week cycles. In the first week, he would go into the Royal Marsden Hospital to receive anti-cancer drugs each night for five consecutive nights.

Then, for the second and third weeks, he would go into hospital for half a day for blood tests, and if necessary a top up of drugs, known as a push through.

"For the first couple of times I got a little bit sick, but that was eventually controlled with drugs," he said.

"I also felt completely shattered as the treatment reduces the number of red blood cells quite a lot. I was given a couple of units of blood and that was a real pick-me-up.

"Psychologically you have got so much time on your hands when you are strapped up to the chemotherapy machine that it is very easy to become very negative about your situation, but I tried to stay as positive as a I could."

At the end of three months tests revealed that the tumour on Colin's lung had completely gone.

Gradually re-adjusting

He is now gradually re-adjusting to normal life, and has gone back to work on a part time basis.

However, he stills very tired, and suffers from a numbness in his hands and feet. Hopefully these symptoms should fade with time.

He will undergo regular checks at the Royal Marsden for the next five years before doctors give him the all-clear.

"My message to other men is to get informed, and to discover how to examine themselves," he said.

"If you find a lump, no matter what size, then go along and get it sorted out. The vast majority of lumps are benign."

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