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Men's Health Awareness Month
November, or Movember, is the month people across the world come together to raise awareness of men's health issues, including prostate and testicular cancer and mental well-being.
As part of it we’d like to share the story of James Thorp, a PhD student from Lancaster, who received a cancer diagnosis during the summer in the midst of the COVID lockdown which was already making life incredibly difficult for many people across the UK.
James said: “I was struggling mentally with lockdown already and then I found a lump. Doctors confirmed it was testicular cancer, caught early, but that they needed to operate.”
“COVID made things harder because I had to attend appointments on my own. The nurses and consultants were all wearing extensive PPE which made it harder to communicate and I didn’t want to take up their time talking them to them about anything other than the physical impacts of the treatment. I also didn’t feel like I could talk to my family because I knew they were already so worried about me.”
The diagnosis began to have an impact on James’s mental health, so, his nurse put him in touch with CancereCare and he started receiving telephone counselling with David, one of our professional therapists.
“It felt like a weight had been lifted. It was also really good to be able to talk to someone about my cancer without us both being in loads of PPE,” said James.
Following successful surgery, James continued to have counselling sessions with David to help him during the recovery process which James found difficult to cope with.
“I was catastrophising, always imaging the worst about situations, but David helped me to think things through and together we could work out practical ways to alleviate the uncertainties I had. We didn’t always spend 45 minutes talking about cancer. We talked about other things that were on my mind too, like the COVID restrictions or my dog Willow needing an operation of her own. It was all part of feeling better,” he added.
James has now resumed his studies and is hoping to spend Christmas with his mum and sister at home in Glossop. He is also urging others to seek support if they are worried about their physical or mental health: “Don’t hesitate to get help. If you find a lump, go to your doctors, but if you need support mentally too, reach out.”
CancerCare is here to support anyone affected by cancer or bereavement. Our services are provided free of charge and counselling is still available during lockdown restrictions. For more information call our Helpline on 03330 150 628, text: 07860 018 278 or email: CancerCareCan@cancercare.org.uk.