Pulling The Flag

My Fight Off The Field

(Headline picture courtesy of Leanne McOmish)

November 2016, It was Monday just like any other day, get up have some breakfast and then get ready for work in the afternoon, just like anybody else would!

But before work I had a hospital appointment, an ultrasound to be more precise. I thought I was going to be routine like one I had a year ago, to be told I had a harmless cyst, from what my GP had told me. Only to be told that I had the start of testicular cancer, in my right testicle!

I went numb for what seemed like forever, one of the those rare times I had been left speechless.

I had been through this before, as my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer nearly four years ago and has been given the all clear a year a go. However, being on this side of the wall was a different experience and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone!

Everything went so fast.  All the hospital and doctors  appointments, within in ten days of being told what I had, I was in for surgery at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

I was there to get the testicle removed and so they could do a biopsy to determine how far the cancer had developed and to see what type of tumour it was!

I had CT scan days before the surgery to see if it had spread anywhere else. The day of the surgery, I was told it hadn’t spread which was the best news I had heard and my wife, family and friends were all relieved to hear that news.
I had numerous appointments after the surgery, with my GP and Oncologists at the hospital, were we would start discussing the next course of action.

They offered me a six week course of chemotherapy (2 to 3 week cycles).

I thought about it. Thoughts ran through my head, firstly when most people think of chemo, the image you get is people lying in bed, looking really ill and weak, barely able to move.

To be honest, it really scared me a bit. I decided to go for it! If I had to go through months of being ill, having a low immune system and feeling sick, to make sure this wouldn’t come back and to get a longer life with my wife, family and friends, then I would do it!

A few things kept me going strong through it all. I had a strong support group around, which had my family, friends, the Flag Football community and most importantly my amazing wife Lisa.

I had set goals at the start of the year of were I wanted to be at certain dates during the year.

My chemo finished in the middle of February. At the start of March I was playing Flag again, which made me really happy. I didn’t think It would be the Chargers last games (for at least a while).

For people that had seen me that day, I made up for all the time I had been sidelined by cancer. I don’t think you could see any Charger blue or yellow on my uniform as I was dying around in the mud, to make tackles, diving to break up passes or just slipping face first in the mud to make first downs!

That’s how much playing those 2 games had meant to me, I wasn’t caring how muddy I got or how tired I felt, I just kept going till I could barely move no more.

Sadly, we decided we didn’t have enough players to compete this season and the Dunbeth Dragons got in touch and offered a few of us a temporary home for the season, whilst we rebuild, just to keep us from going game rusty.

I only played two gamedays for the Dragons and totally appreciate everything they done for me, including organising a standing ovation for me on the 1st gameday in Airdrie.

 

That touched me and showed me that it doesn’t matter what team you play for, everyone that plays the game, is just one happy family, that fights quite a lot lol.

The Thursday after that gameday, I went for one of my check-ups at the hospital for results of another CT scan that I had done. This time it was to get told that there is no more cancer in my body and I was in remission.

I had beaten cancer!

My next goal is to get the West Lothian Chargers playing numbers back up and playing competitive flag football in time for the 2018 season.

Hey, if I can beat cancer, I’m sure I can do it?

It’s just not the physical pain I went through, there is also a mental pain I went through and that’s one thing a lot of people don’t see. Just because you have physically healed, the mental scars it leaves can stay with you for a long time or even for ever.

But if you surround yourself with the right people and listen to them, it makes the battle that much easier to fight!

So please to all the guys out there, if you feel something strange down there, don’t be embarrassed about it and leave it, go see your doctor straight away and get it checked out!

Nine times out of ten it will be nothing, but don’t let it be that one chance you don’t go for and it turn into something bad.

Always be safe and get it checked!


Picture courtesy of Jimmy Thomson

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