In 2009, I noticed a small red blotch on the glans of my penis and thought it was just a spot. It started to turn into a lump and concern grew, so after much thought I saw my Doctor who on examination was unsure what it was and referred me to a GU clinic.
Upon entering the clinic I realised it was an STD focused facility. It angered me that my Doctor had sent me to such a place but I stayed and saw a female Doctor. She said it was a genital wart, I could of contracted this decades ago and it can suddenly appear. I was given a solution called “Warticon” and applied it 3 times daily to no effect. I revisited the clinic and was assured it was a wart and it would go in time but the lump started growing and became ulcerated, all the time I kept away from my wife and started sleeping in the guest room so I could hide it from her, citing that my snoring was keeping her awake. I refused to go back to the clinic because I felt ashamed and in this time a second tumor appeared at the base of my glans which grew rapidly.
After hiding this condition for over 12 months I had to show my wife and she was horrified and phoned the clinic. She agreed to visit the clinic with me. We saw a different Doctor and after a close examination he said I had been misdiagnosed. The new Doctor referred me to see an urologist who was very concerned from the very beginning, concluding I would need a biopsy under anesthetic on the 23rd December 2011.
I had my appointment to see the urologist in January 2012 and was told I had malignant melanoma of the penis it was at stage 3 and was very, very rare and required surgery. On February 15th, I was admitted to hospital for a glansectomy and new neo-glans by plastic surgery and stayed in hospital for four days. A week later, I had a serious infection and was re-admitted for IV antibiotics and further tests, again I spent four days in hospital and returned home to re-cooperate.
I was then referred to the dermatology department at the QE Birmingham. It was then that I was told that due to the seriousness of the cancer, I needed further surgery to reduce the chance of it returning and spreading. In June I was re-admitted to Good Hope Hospital (Birmingham) for a partial Penectomy and another neo-glan surgery, after only four days I was discharged.
I am now visiting the QE every three months for a CT scan and up till now they have proved to show no change. At the last visit I was told the CT scans every three months can now stop; which I feel was a glimmer of hope for myself and my family.
At this moment in time I am clear of cancer and can only be given temporary remission and a 50/50 chance of it returning. If the cancer came back on the penis it would mean I have to have a full penectomy, if it became a secondary cancer I would need chemotherapy or radiology to try and stop it. I’m far from being cured and doubt I ever will be but I remain strong in fighting this terrible disease.
In July 2014, I had what I thought were flu-like symptoms. I stayed in bed for a few days and after a few weeks felt normal. Then four weeks later the symptoms returned and were much worse. My temperature was 41.5 and my fever was increasing. An ambulance was called and I was taken to the local hospital A+E. After seeing a few doctors I had an x ray on my abdomen where I had been having severe pain for a month and abnormalities were found. Because of my cancer I was admitted for eight days.
During my stay they did every test they could on all my body fluids and could find no infection, virus or bug so they ordered a full body MRI scan. The scan revealed a brain tumor, three lung tumors, liver tumor and a tumor on my adrenal gland. Upon finding these abnormalities they contacted the QE in Birmingham and I was discharged to wait for the hospitals to meet and discuss my case; a long three week wait had begun.
A phone call to go to see my skin oncologist straight away revealed my worst fears; I walked into the consultant office to be greeted by a Doctor and a MacMillan nurse. I knew my fate. I did not need telling but heard it all the same ‘I’m sorry Nigel but you are now stage 4.’ ‘Terminal,’ I replied? A slight nod of the head was given as doctors do not say ‘terminal’.
I was then fast tracked to medical oncologists and clinical oncologists. My waiting time was minimal. With regard to my prognosis I was told that I had months to live not years and I would be given chemotherapy to try and shrink and slow down all the tumors to buy me more time.
My second visit was to see the clinical oncologist who said cyber knife radiotherapy would be required on my brain tumor to reduce it and this took place on the 19th September 2014.
My next treatment is on Thursday starting the chemo journey which will be 4 x 3 weekly treatments. I have heard to which the side effects are not very nice but I am prepared to put up with this as I really need to stand up and fight for extended life.
The whole journey has had a bad effect on my mind. To this day I still struggle to cope with everyday situations but I feel in time this will go. I’ve had great support from my family which as pulled me through this. I want to help other men know not make the mistake of hiding this as I did.
Since his first visit to the doctor in 2011, Nigel has battled with a series of diagnosis and treatment. He was diagnosed with the rarest form of penile cancer; melanoma and had a series of other tumors to follow in his later years.
Despite battling against the odds and inspiring many men in the process, Nigel unfortunately lost his battle just before Christmas in 2014. He will be sadly missed.