This is Part 3 in a series. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
I don’t think I have ever been so devastated in my life and I never want to be again. I’ve never had to use the word devastated before, but that’s what I was. I’ve lost my left ball for fuck’s sake! I cried until I couldn’t breathe and then I cried more. My body hurt like hell from the surgery and my lungs were gasping for breath and still I couldn’t stop. At the time I couldn’t think straight and even when I could, I couldn’t get my head around it. Why would they do that? I’m only sixteen. My body hasn’t got enough testosterone to make me fully a man. One ball, that’s like half a eunuch / half a gelding – good for nothing. What if my voice doesn’t finish breaking properly? Will I LOOK lopsided? I’ve only just got most of my body hair, will that go too? Of course, I don’t want kids now, but I might, later. I haven’t even slept with my girlfriend – will I ever get to do that? Oh, Tasha! I’ve read in books sometimes that “he cried like a little girl” but I didn’t. I bawled and screamed and cried and sniffled just like a guy whose life has been cut off, just like his left nut, before he’s had a chance to do all that bloke stuff. I must have passed out again then, what was I gonna I tell Tash?
The doctor and Mum explained it to me more once I was fully awake, but it felt like the worst nightmare ever. I was trapped in it and couldn’t get out. Instead of a cut in my sack, I had stitches and pain just above where my pubes had been. That’s a story in itself, the shaving there. So, pain and stitches on what they called the ‘bikini line’ – yeah right, bikini line! But I’m getting a bit off track. It turns out that when I was fully under, the doctor had another grope around and didn’t like the feel of my left ball. Great. So, for some reason I still don’t fully get, they cut me to the left of my dick and pulled the whole ball up through there. When he saw it, the doc went straight out to Mum in the waiting room,
“Ms Brown, I think its cancer.”
I reckon he probably told her more than that. All the technical stuff that she has always known more about than me; the fact that the cyst had overtaken the whole epididymis on my left nut and that the reason it stayed enlarged was that as the swelling from the knock to the groin was going down, cancer was coming in and taking its place. Mum reckons that there had always been the concern that my cyst might go cancerous, but we hadn’t talked about it – Mum’s a ‘don’t borrow trouble’ sort of person.
Right now though, she wasn’t borrowing trouble, it was standing in front of her and Gary in surgical scrubs offering to give her the lab results just as soon as he’d finished cutting my nut off, stuffing what was left of me back in, stitching me up and dissecting the traitorous, disloyal, backstabbing thing. I don’t blame my mum, I wouldn’t have wanted to hang on to a cancerous nut, but shit it scared me when I first felt it gone. What is the world coming to when you can’t trust your own gonads?
Later, after my chemo, I was allowed to wear a beanie to school. A teacher at the Junior School called me on it when we were over there for the some assembly or service. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it definitely had the words “disrespectful” and “inappropriate” thrown in for good measure. I could have done it any number of ways, but I thought, damn it, she’s being so rude to me, getting up in my face. So I snapped,
“I’ve had cancer!”
I felt like adding, “Bitch” but managed to stop myself. I made her feel like shit though, which felt pretty good actually. She knew who I was, I suppose stories like mine are too good to stay secret, not that it was ever supposed to be a secret.
“Oh, you’re Sam,” and she walked off, no sorry or anything. Bitch.
After my surgery and chemo, I started riding my bike again – had mates ask about that – the pressure on my groin was obviously not a problem when I stopped catching the bus and started riding to school. Mates are funny like that; maybe it’s a guy thing. We are always, according to my sister, giving each other stick about being a man, or not. She’s probably right though, way back in Primary school I remember playing footy with my mates and it was a badge of honour to be able to walk after a good hit to the groin. So most of them knew a bit about what was going on, but not much, and while I reckon they cared, what could they do? I had a third nut, and then that I’d lost my nut in surgery. Not much chat, guys don’t do that,
And that’s it. Miss reckons that girls would have laughed and cried about it together and talked about every little feeling. I don’t get it.
One thought on “Nuts, a ball and other four-letter words. A young man’s journey with testicular cancer. Part 3”
Oh yes: that final bit about how men (young/old/historic/now) don’t talk about the emo stuff. Very true. It’s the go-go-zone. The mine-field that most blokes learn to tip-toe around. But here’s the thing: it’s not genetic. It is learned. None of us take a diploma in it – but it seeps in via a million pores, from birth.
Same about all the other traditional Male-Messages boys absorb. I could give you a near-infinite list!
Curiously – I haven’t blogged about my thousands of hours of men’s groups and retreats. What I’ve witnessed; what I contributed to; none f it. I wonder why?
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