I find myself in the strange position of sharing an intimate and life-changing experience with Nigel Farage. We have both lost a testicle to cancer. However, this is where our shared experience ends.
His tumour was not recognised and he was misdiagnosed, it appears, several times, before a private doctor identified the condition correctly. In his autobiography, he deliberately mentioned that it was an “Indian Doctor” who was responsible for one of the mis-diagnoses. As if being “Indian” automatically meant that you were less capable of doing your job effectively.
He used the experience to criticise the NHS, as if the failings of doctors within the NHS were somehow caused by the NHS itself, instead of being their own individual failings. He was 21 when this happened, he is only 4 months older than me, so this happened just around 30 years ago, in 1985. I developed my cancer in 1998.
I think a lot changed between those dates, in terms of the awareness of Testicular Cancer among GPs. By the time mine appeared, my doctor was able to refer me to a consultant immediately following me turning up to see her, and I was operated on the following day after seeing the consultant.
Since then the prevalance of Testicular Cancer has continued to increase and it’s now the most common cancer in young men. It’s treatable, as long as it is caught early enough. I was lucky in that I didn’t feel embarrassed about going to see my GP fairly quickly when I realised something was wrong.
After the op I then had chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial which lasted ten years. During that time I made regular visits to see my consultant who was one of the leading experts in Testicular Cancer in the country. So I felt extremely well looked after.
I had a very positive experience of the NHS during that time, although since then with other family members I have seen different sides to our Health Service.
Some say having Cancer changes you life. I would say I had a minor brush with Cancer, especially now having lost my dad and brother to terminal forms. One thing that having Cancer did for me was it led me to immediately give up smoking. It was just an obvious thing to do, I didn’t really think about it. So now when I see Nigel Farage with a fag in his hand – and he seems to use it as some sort of totem, a way of saying “I’m one of you” to his followers – I think, what an idiot. You’ve survived one cancer scare, why invite it back?