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‘I could have died of stubbornness’

Rob Hall, from east London waited 18 months before seeking medical help after noticing a lump on his right testicle.

He said nothing to family or friends – or even his GP – about his symptoms. During this time, his lump grew bigger and harder. Rob, 30, from east London admits he was the classic example of a man refusing to confront cancer in the hope “that it would just go away”. He first noticed something was wrong in autumn 2002. He had been taking a shower when he noticed something amiss. “It was a small round lump at the bottom of the testicle and it was slightly hard. I put it straight to the back of my mind. I supposed my dismissive attitude was a kind of in-built defence system.” Two months later, Rob examined his testicle again. He didn’t notice any major changes, although the lump had noticeably hardened. He said: “I suppose I knew deep down that I should get it checked out but I had a lot of stress in my life at that time and I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I would have illness to deal with as well. “So I carried on refusing to confront the problem.” ‘I blurted it out’ Rob talked himself into thinking the lump could be a harmless cyst. But by September 2003, he found himself closely monitoring his testicle on weekly basis. The lump had reached the size of a pea. “At that stage I really wanted to tell someone about it,” he says. “My mum is a receptionist at a doctor’s surgery, so she would have been the natural choice. But what bloke feels comfortable talking to his mum about his balls? “I didn’t feel able to tell my dad either and I couldn’t imagine discussing it with my mates over a pint.” By December 2003, Rob knew he had a major problem. But he once more found an excuse not to go to the doctors’ – he didn’t want to ruin his family’s Christmas. Finally Rob chose to talk to his mum Theresa in the New Year. “She had just come back from a holiday with my dad. She was half way through telling me about the trip when I just blurted out that I had a lump on my testicle. “She asked me if I wanted her to have a look but, stupidly, I was too embarrassed. So she told me to make a GP’s appointment the very next day. She said it wasn’t for me, it was for her.” Rob’s GP referred him to a specialist for ultrasound scans which revealed a malignant tumour. Within a week, Rob underwent surgery to have his right testicle removed. ‘Check immediately’ Because he had delayed seeking help for so long, it was feared that the cancer might have spread beyond the testicle. He said: “I endured a week of agonising uncertainty before I was given the news that it hadn’t spread. “I felt so relieved. I had been preparing myself for the worst. If it had of spread, I don’t think I would ever have forgiven myself for waiting 18 months to get myself checked out. “My advice to any man who finds a lump in his testicle is to get it checked out straight away. “I could have died of stubbornness and I’d hate for that to happen to someone else.” Since learning about his ordeal, Rob’s male friends have all started checking themselves on a regular basis.(Source: BBC News: May 2004)

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Posted On: 28 May, 2004
Modified On: 3 December, 2013

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