My name is Gavin Teehan. Ten years ago I discovered that I had testicular cancer. Not the greatest thing in the world for a young man to discover, a young man who had just celebrated his 30th birthday.
So began my journey of being a cancer patient. I hadn’t planned it, far from it. For a start, I had never ever worried about my general health. I had been fit & strong for as long as I could remember. So when I got this pain, I did what most men foolishly do & ignored it. Thinking back, I had ignored it for a little longer than I would admit to myself. I now regard my 30th birthday as when I admitted to myself that I had a problem. In truth it had been bubbling under the surface for some 9 months.
I went to see my family GP Dr. Tom Duggan. After a brief & slightly awkward conversation, I left the surgery thinking that my problem was little more than a varicose vein & that medication would clear it up in no time. What I didn’t realise until months later, was that I had testicular cancer. The medication that I took for the varicose vein problem masked the symptoms. Over the course of the following months however, my body started to let me know that something wasn’t right, but I continued to ignore the signs. Thinking back, I recall having massive temperature swings. I couldn’t quite put a reason on this & began to make excuses like diet, sleeping patterns, general lifestyle to reason away the way that I was feeling.
Gradually though, over a couple of months, the signs were getting clearer, louder, more frequent & I started to feel constant pain in my testicle, coupled with a mild nausea, as if I had been kicked in the balls but couldn’t quite get myself together after it. When I now think back, knowing what I do today, I feel like a right idiot. I knew that I wasn’t well, yet continued to act as if nothing was wrong. I simply hoped that the pain would pass & that I could get on with being me.
Finally, after months of persuasion by my amazing wife Belinda, I decided to go back to see Tom. We chatted about life in general, the stresses & strains of the daily grind and then all of a sudden the mood radically changed. I think at this moment I realised that I might be in trouble. Tom’s usual jolly, upbeat demeanor noticeably shifted to one of concern & worry. The subsequent call to a colleague, to ask a favour to have me seen as an emergency case didn’t help my stress levels & before I knew it I was on my way into St. Vincent’s to have an ultrasound on my left testicle.
The ultrasound was carried out by a doctor who having seen the images on screen immediately asked me if I would mind getting one of his colleagues to give a second opinion. This second doctor appeared on the scene very quickly & having looked at the ultrasound images had absolutely no hesitation in stating to me, “you have cancer Mr. Teehan, I hope you don’t have any plans for the next year”.