The symptoms started two days before Christmas.
What began with discomfort and minimal swelling ended six months later with surgery and a question of whether my husband was still a man.
There are certain parts of the male body, that when removed, also take with them a sense of manhood. Look no further than the characters of Theon Greyjoy and Varis on Game of Thrones. Each character is portrayed as either weak or effeminate due to their lack of male genitalia.
This idea has been communicated to men for years.
Due to this misguided message many men delay having certain health concerns looked at by a professional.
While in the middle of holiday preparations my husband had commented that he may have “pulled something” in his groin. That night he tossed and turned in pain and considered a trip to the emergency room, but ultimately decided against it as the pain slowly subsided. The next morning his right testicle was swollen and tender. He agreed to see the doctor, after the holidays had past.
A couple of weeks later, and after a few reminders, a doctor visit was scheduled and the swelling was attributed to an infection. He started a round of antibiotics and was told “Welcome to the man club.”
After the antibiotics ran their course it seemed like maybe things were improving, but they weren’t.
A few months later his testicle had ballooned in size and was causing him constant discomfort. Another doctor appointment was made, ultrasounds were had, and a specialist was brought in.
The specialist took one look at the affected testicle and scheduled surgery. Two days later I was being told my husband had made it through surgery just fine and that they had removed a sizable tumor, along with his testicle.
Days later we had confirmation that the tumor was malignant. My husband had testicular cancer.
His attitude was positive about the cancer. Multiple doctors had said it was the “best” type to have as the cure rate is high. For 2016 the American Cancer Society estimates that 8,720 cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed and out of that number only 380 men are expected to die.
Cancer runs in my husband’s family. His mother is a breast cancer survivor, and her father had passed away years ago from prostate cancer. Weeks later we would learn that there was a not so distant uncle that had died from testicular cancer.
The cancer diagnosis wasn’t the notable cause of concern for him. The loss of his testicle though, that was a different story.
Within two days of his surgery he began making comments regarding his perceived loss of manliness. He questioned if he was still man enough for me. I was adamant that he was, but my comments were largely unheard as he dealt with his body’s loss.
His parents were both there through the surgery and his father called almost hourly for the first few days of his recovery. During one of these conversations his father was distraught and questioned why the diagnosis wasn’t made earlier. I had wondered the same thing too.
What I realized was that my husband had been lax about his initial follow-ups. He didn’t want there to be something wrong with his testicle that it would need to be removed.
Cancer was one thing, but the loss of his testicle was like removing certain privileges from his man card. He was convinced that he would be perceived differently.
Based on the comments from male friends and family regarding his loss I understood this was not only his fear, but many men’s fear. The noticeable cringing and discomfort came after they heard about the loss of his testicle. Cancer was a disease that could be fought, but loss of a testicle, that was a final outcome.
After his experience my husband told almost everyone to get checked out if they had any of his symptoms. During a talk with one of his friends, she mentioned that her husband had swelling in his groin but had refused to go to the doctor.
Even after their talk her husband was still in denial of needing to make a doctor appointment.
My husband was that person too. He didn’t want to believe something could be wrong, especially “down there.” Even though he’s lost a testicle, his man card is still intact.
He’s still dealing with his own thoughts on this, but his health and vigor is what makes him manly to me.
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