Paul Hill has kindly shared his story with us for our ActionMan campaign. Funded by Action Hampshire, it’s a campaign to encourage men to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and to contact their GP if they have any concerns. You can read other stories from other men and access all the ActionMan resources here
I first got some pain in my testicles when I was 19. But I ignored it and put it out of my mind. As a typical bloke, I was protective of my crown jewels and didn’t like to think there was anything wrong with me. Also, the thought of being examined by a GP petrified me.
Over the years, the pain came and went. I’d get a load of pressure, like a cramp, and a deep ache. By the time I was 34 there was a sizeable lump and my wife made me go and get it checked out.
My GP asked me if I’d ever had any injuries. I explained that during a rugby match I’d been headbutted down there and had gone down like a sack of potatoes! There are no ways of describing how painful that was. It made me want to throw up. She examined me and said it was scar tissue from the injury which had got bigger and bigger over the years. It was a simple explanation to something which had caused me a whole load of pain for 15 years. But what would have happened if that had been testicular cancer? I wish I’d gone sooner, particularly as both my parents had died of cancer.
I get that blokes don’t want to go and see their GP, particularly if it’s a woman examining you. Also, blokes are generally fixers and we have this pressure to act like there’s nothing wrong. But we have a stark choice, don’t we? Accept that we might have to endure a few minutes of feeling a bit awkward, or risk that if we don’t we may not be there for our families and mates in the future.
Don’t regret not going sooner. If you’re worried, do it now. I used to think that asking for help was a weakness, but now I know it’s the strongest thing you can do.