As part of our series for Men’s Health Awareness month, this week we are shining a light on cancers affecting men. Over 50,000 men will be diagnosed with a male-specific cancer each year. Some of whom will be treated at The Royal Marsden, the specialist cancer hospital founded in London in 1851.
That’s why for the past 6 years, Orlebar Brown has proudly supported the Father and Son Day charity which raises money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. This year, the proceeds of the appeal is to be used to help fund counselling and psychotherapy for staff at the hospital. By giving the staff the help they need to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their own mental health, we can ensure that they can continue to provide the best possible care for their patients.
Last week we spoke to Declan Cahill, consultant urological surgeon at the hospital about his work. This week we speak to Tim, a civil engineer from London, about what it is like to be a patient of this ground-breaking hospital.
How did your first diagnosis come about?
I was taking a shower and I found a lump on my testicle. I went to the GP, who sent me for an ultrasound scan in January 2016. And that's how I was diagnosed. The doctors told me that although I did have testicular cancer, it was at a very early stage, so it was still very treatable.
What happened next?
Eventually, I ended up having an orchidectomy, which is the removal of a testicle. After that, I was transferred to The Royal Marsden for aftercare. After you have surgery like this, you are checked every 3 to 6 months to make sure the problem doesn’t return. You have blood tests and scans and mine picked up a growth on my abdominal lymph node. Unfortunately for me, the initial treatment hadn’t quite got rid of it. So, they offered me chemotherapy or surgery using a new robot they had. The surgery made more sense for me, so that is what we did.
How does robotic surgery work?
It is done over 3 to 4 hours using something called the Da Vinci machine. It is a way to do surgery with just tiny incisions. It's interesting in that when you go into the operating theatre you don’t see the surgeon in front of you. He is at a separate console, which controls the machine. Also, you don’t lie flat, you are sort of in an inclined position.
How were you after the surgery?
This demonstrates how good this machine and surgeon is because I was able to get up and move about in a day. I was in hospital for only a day and a half. If it had been normal surgery, I would have been out for a week or so. The doctors are all very confident in the technology – and you can see why. That gives you as a patient confidence too.
How was it being treated at a specialist hospital like The Royal Marsden?
I can't praise them highly enough. Everyone there is so incredibly patient and kind. They welcome your questions, even if they're stupid. And you know, they are honest with their answers. Also, the level of care you get when you are in for treatment is just without comparison. I have such admiration for the surgeons and the people who invent new technologies like the Da Vinci machine. They are always trying these new things to make it better for patients.
What advice would you give men about cancer?
I think my first piece of advice is to wash down there properly. I say this rather than checking yourself daily because, with the best will in the world, at times you can forget to check, but you are unlikely to forget to wash. The second thing is to make sure that if you find a lump of any sort you get it checked. Go to your GP and be adamant about getting an ultrasound. And get this done within two weeks. I think I waited a bit too long. I think it was over the Christmas period and it took three weeks. Getting checked sooner might have made a difference. This has taken up four years of my life so far now. And it will be even longer still.
Orlebar Brown is pleased to support the Father and Son Day charity campaign to increase awareness of male cancers and raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity