Who would see my daughter go on her first date, get married and have kids?….not me.
Who would see my son ride his first bike, attend his first football match, pass his driving test?….not me……
Who would tell my wife she is loved every day?….not me.
Cancer was inside me and my first thoughts were that I was going to die…I’d seen firsthand what it had done to my mum and dad and now the same was going to happen to me….it broke my heart.
To cut a long story short, it was cancerous, but thankfully it hadn’t spread and the tumour was stage 1 seminoma and not the more aggressive one.
I only had a short dose of chemo thankfully. My specialist did say that if I had the aggressive one, because of the delays in getting operated on, I wouldn’t have been here now! Wow, I could have died because I delayed going to the Doctors because of my macho image and also because the Doctors didn’t have a clue what I had. This made me angry. From that day I vowed to make sure no other bloke had to go through the emotional roller coaster that I had been through….I wanted to raise awareness of this young man’s cancer.
I became a media volunteer for Cancer Research UK and did lots of newspaper and magazine interviews about my experience and now and again I also appeared on some TV programmes for them. I was doing what I had promised….talking about it openly and spreading the all important message of regular self-examination. This was fantastic but I wanted to do more, something huge and unique. I found that using humour had helped me through my battle, especially with my male friends who just didn’t know how to talk to me about my cancer….until we started using humour and this worked a treat….no more walking on eggshells around me.
Humour is the key in spreading awareness further afield I thought to myself.
Early 2008, my best mate Richard Miller and I, started planning something called The Testicle Tour. At the same time I was writing a book about my cancer experience. I was very busy! The Testicle Tour is all about raising awareness but by using humour to get the message across. Our fist big event was to travel all around England and visit place names that had reference to the male genitalia or testicular cancer….so places with cock, ball, willy, prick, nut, etc in their title! In June 2008 we set off in a branded Mercedes car and 2 weeks later we had travelled 4000 miles and took in over 90 place names. At each place we stopped and talked to the locals and also had our photo taken with the village/town sign, along with our 2 extra companions…..2 big pink fluffy testicles!
We visited places such as Cocking, Cockermouth, Prickwillow, Willy, Nutley, Bell End, Balls Cross, Lickey End and the best one of all for testicular cancer….a village called Lower Swell. At the end of the tour I did a publicity stunt on Trafalgar Square in London. I sat in a bath of nuts for 5 hours…..why you may ask….well to promote the message that the best place to check your nuts is in the bath! This proved a huge success as it had never been done before and we gained lots of publicity from this and the tour around England. Part way through the tour we were invited onto a National TV show on ITV and I did a 10 minute live interview about my story and our tour and I was also the 1st ever testicular cancer survivor to drop his trousers on national TV in front of millions of viewers to conduct a self examination live on TV! Also just before we set off, my humorous book One Lump or Two was published and it’s available on Amazon Kindle. Be warned though, it’s quite rude in places!
Not only did we raise loads of awareness but we also raised £20,000 for male cancer research. However our biggest highlight was having a chap get in touch to say he had seen us on the TV and he later had a rummage and found a lump down below…..thankfully it wasn’t cancerous but our tour had made sure we had achieved what we set out to do…..make blokes listen and take notice. We couldn’t stop now, we wanted to do so much more with our big pink fluffy testicles….so we did. Richard and I have done numerous talks about testicular cancer to schools, colleges, clubs and companies. A year after the tour around England, we did a 10 mile walk around London with around 20 other survivors and their family and friends. There was 60 of us in total and we all had a big fluffy testicle with us.
As you can imagine, everyone took notice….well, seeing 60 large fluffy testicles coming towards you certainly grabs the eye! We’ve also done 5k runs with the testicles on our backs, we do penalty shoot out games at football clubs during half time….but we don’t use a normal football…..no way, we get the chaps to use one of the big fluffy testicles instead. And boy do they remember our message….it’s not every day you get to score a goal on your football clubs ground, in front of thousands of people….but using a testicle instead of a football.
We’ve also climbed the mountain in Wales (Snowdon) every year for the last six years with the big fluffy testicles on our backs! We meet up every August with lots of other survivors from across the world and along with our family and friends we climb the mountain to honour those we have lost to the disease….and to raise awareness of course.
It’s not every day you’ll see giant pink testicles being carried up the biggest mountain in Wales!
I think our biggest achievement to date was setting a new Guinness World Record in May 2010 and to this day we still hold it…..we are currently the world record holders for organising the biggest gathering of men checking their testicles in a public place! We got 207 men together to achieve this and we had thousands of people watch us and we got so much publicity that we certainly helped spread the awareness message that day!
Two years ago I was recognised by my local community for the voluntary work I have done with regards raising awareness and I was awarded a Pride of Tendring- New Year Honours award. Then not long after this, I was honoured to be chosen as an International Hero of Hope by the American Cancer Society for my survivorship advocacy for Relay For Life here in the UK.
Then in August 2010, I began working for the charity that developed the chemo drug that helped save my life and hundreds of others. Cancer Research UK. I support local fundraisers in my community where I live and to me it’s not a job…it’s a mission….to make a difference and to say thank you to everyone who raises money to help keep more families together. There’s no other job where I get to meet people who helped save my life. That is mind blowing.
In Sept 2007, something wonderful happened. My daughter Ruby was born…….6 years after my diagnosis. Just goes to prove the old one ball still works! So not only was my life saved, another life was born from it. Awesome!!
So to this day I’m still raising awareness, giving talks to schools and colleges and getting hundreds of people to meet my big pink fluffy testicle. I’ve even done talks at events in different countries! Portugal and Ireland have had the pleasure of meeting my fluffy testicle! It’s strange to say it, but my cancer battle has turned my life around…..I could have collapsed, but I didn’t. I want to help others and see the day when all cancers are cured. It will come and with my fellow TC brothers who are all doing great work around the globe, it will happen. I’ve met so many wonderful people and done things I would never have dreamed of doing.
My TC brothers are friends for life.
Never have I met such a determined, passionate bunch of guys. And you know what, if I didn’t have cancer, then none of this would have happened. I’ve turned my life around for the better from something so horrible. And I won’t stop talking bollocks either….it’s now a way of life for me! Am I ballsy? Too bloody right….we can all be ballsy even if we haven’t had a personal cancer experience…..whether it’s raising awareness, trying something new, telling someone you love them or planning that dream vacation……go on try it, just do it…..say “I am ballsy”…….you will bloody love it!
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STAMP OUT CANCER Now! is not affiliated with the LIVESTRONG Foundation or the Testicular Cancer Foundation. This is an independent fundraiser. We are listed as a Grassroots/Community Fundraiser and all of the net proceeds from the items in the online store will be donated to the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the Testicular Cancer Foundation. All donations through this website are not tax deductible, as this is an independent fundraiser and not a foundation. Remember TWO Check™