At 26 years of age Christopher was diagnosed with testicular cancer after finding a lump which then led to him undergoing intensive chemotherapy which he said was a struggle both physically and mentally.
Christopher Skillen first noticed symptoms n November 2019. Christopher said, he felt a pulsating sensation in his groin and then was able to feel a bulge under his skin in the same area. “At first I thought it was a swollen lymph node or a hernia, so I left it for about two weeks thinking the swelling would subside.”
Christopher’s local GP red- flagged his case and moved him to the top of the list to see a specialist. After a CT scan about a week later he then received his diagnosis of stage two B non- seminoma.
The next step was ten weeks of intensive chemotherapy. Christopher said this consisted of four, one week -long treatments in hospital with two- week intervals at home. The first week of receiving the treatment was a long and boring experience Christopher said. “However, the first week of the intervals at home were extremely tough mentally and physically. I felt constantly lightheaded, always with a thumping headache with no ability to concentrate on simple day to day tasks or conversations. My sleep was regularly interrupted by some form of discomfort, one of those discomforts was a stomach- ache and being bloated. It would be safe to say the first week at home after treatment was easily the worst”, he said.
During his treatment in hospital no one was allowed to visit which he found quite annoying, but he says he was very fortunate to be able to get his treatment done and dusted.
Christopher said during the COVID-19 pandemic the wards were very empty which was due to many of the patients’ treatment being postponed. Christopher believes due to his young age he was less of a risk had he contracted the virus and was therefore able to receive his treatment.
Christopher said his family and friends were very supportive through the whole process. “The staff in hospital were very friendly and helped me through the week when I couldn’t have loved ones around”, he said.
Thankfully, Christopher has now been in remission for one year and seven months. He said his immune system was still very low after treatment and he had to get his bloods done monthly. Through time this has gradually decreased with him needing them done less often.
Christopher said, “after treatment I really had a new outlook.” Rock- climbing and hiking are just some activities he enjoys and appreciates all the more now. Christopher wanted to highlight the importance of getting checked if you have a concern. He said, it’s better to know sooner rather than later otherwise he wouldn’t be here today.
If you have any concerns or are currently receiving treatment Macmillan Cancer Support run a helpline that offers support which can be found at
https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-supportor by calling 0808 808 00 00.