For 51 years Curtis’ visits to a doctor were very few. Unless absolutely necessary, he stayed clear of any doctor.

Early Misdiagnosis
In the spring of 2009 Curtis started having a burning sensation when urinating. He went to the walk-in clinic and was given an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection.

After two weeks, symptoms persisted, so he went back to the clinic. It was then he was diagnosed with penile warts and given Aldara cream for 16 weeks.

Still, things proceeded to get worse to where his foreskin was next to impossible to pull back, very painful with intermittent bleeding.

So he went back once again, and was given Nystatin cream and told to continue with the Aldara. Things never got better. Being one who didn’t go to doctors, and having done so and had been given instructions, he continued with what he was told to do.

Late evening on September 25th, 2009, Curtis awoke and was bleeding profusely from the penis. With several attempts to stop the bleeding we proceeded to Emergency at the Colchester Hospital.

A tourniquet was applied to try and stop the bleeding, which only acerbated the situation; with his elevating blood pressure from the uncontrolled pain, the bleeding persisted.
Finally with repeated doses of pain meds things subsided, only to have Curtis crash, where he had to be bagged.
When his breathing returned, his pain had subsided some, and so did his blood pressure and bleeding.
Urology at QE2 was called for consult  Blood work was taken as well as catherization attempted but failed.

In the morning of the 26th  when a bed was available, Curtis was transferred to the QE2 in Halifax.

Upon arrival he was examined by an urologist and was diagnosed with having penile cancer. X rays were taken.
A total penectomy was scheduled the very next day.

On September 26th, 2009, Curtis underwent a total radial penectomy and perineal  urethostomy. Though things were explained, everything had happened so fast, not much registered. At a time like this, pamphlets or information that we could have   had inhand would have helped so much. Doctors   must realize that most men don’t “talk” on these   things; talking or asking anything is difficult. As   well as the ability to take everything in at a time like this is impossible. Literature or anything would be   beneficial.

The operation lasted 1 1/2 hours and everything went well. Margins were good, although Curtis had some trouble with elevated blood pressure during surgery. He was sent for a cat scan a few days later and was told pathology would be back in approximately 3 weeks. Curtis kept a light, jovial attitude, though at times I seen how all the changes affected him so; he was vigilant in wanting to beat this.

Curtis was seen by internal medicine for his hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes….all diagnosed upon coming into the hospital. On the 4th day post op, the catheter was removed and Curtis went home with antibiotics. In two weeks he was told he could return to work. But with everything that had happened  and all the changes, Curtis took 4 weeks and started his regime of cutting back on salt, fats and sugars to control his hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes. He wanted to try all he could be get back to being healthy. In three weeks he had his diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure under control.

Almost 10 months after being diagnosed with Penile Cancer Curtis died. So many obstacles he fought through and never lost hope. In the picture below in which Curtis himself had taken, a verse he lived by rings true; “Courage does not mean that we do not know fear, Rather we carry on in spite of being afraid. Courage does not always roar or never shed a tear, It lets us face life without allowing hope to fade.”
While walking in the hospital hall one day on 5b, shortly after hearing the news of his cancer spreading; Curtis said these words, “I hope the doctors learn something from my case to be able to help the next guy” Those words have rung in my mind since then and probably always will. I guess in some small way this website that I’ve created is to help facilitate that wish… that someone whether it be doctor, healthcare professional or person/family or cancer patient, while  reading here might gather something from his experience and learn. To be able to help the next guy will give Curtis’  sickness, pain and suffering some meaning.

If there is anything you have learned here that will help you or your loved one, Curtis’ wish will be fulfilled… Thank-you,

Melanie Bates.

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