I started to think something was wrong a couple of weeks after going into lockdown in March 2020. I’d found a lump in my testicle and had aches and pains in that area. Stupidly, I came up with excuses as to what it was and didn’t say anything until the end of May.
I went to the doctors and got a scan the next day as the hospitals were only dealing with urgent cases because of Covid-19. The scan confirmed I had testicular cancer and I had surgery the following week.
The consultants told me straight away, and throughout, that it was treatable. That helped me keep a positive mindset, but I’d be lying to say I was positive the whole time, especially because I had the extra worry of being treated during Covid-19.
Due to having to keep myself safe and shield, I was stuck between the four walls of the house or the four walls at the hospital. When I was in hospital, I had something to do – there was a sense of achieving something because you’re having the treatment every day and getting it done.
But because of coronavirus and visiting restrictions I spent a lot of time by myself. My parents could still visit but they needed to pass a Covid test each time, and sometimes only one would be allowed in. Usually, you can have lots of visitors so my friends and rugby teammates could have come to see me.
On the Teenage Cancer Trust unit, there’s chill out zones to distract you when you’re going through treatment. They have Xboxes and musical instruments. Depending on what you do in your spare time, there’s always stuff to keep you busy.
It’s a bit of normality rather than being stuck around hospital machinery. You don’t feel like you’re in hospital. Something small like having Sky Sports and being able to watch the rugby made such a difference.
The staff from Teenage Cancer Trust come round and speak to you. They take care of things like liaising with schools. When you’re feeling tired you don’t want to think about emailing your Head of Year. They do that for you, which makes life a bit easier.
I also got chatting to other young people on the unit. You’re all going through the same thing, so it bonds you almost straight away.
During treatment, I didn’t have the energy to walk. Now I can go for a walk again. It brings back a sense of normality. It’s something so simple but it helps to have a bit of freedom. You take it for granted. Once shielding was lifted, I saw my nan for the first time in months. We didn’t do anything special, we just watched Countryfile, but it was nice.
The new strain of the virus really worries me. It’s scary how transmittable it is, and it concerns me that other young people will have to go through treatment by themselves. It would be lonely for them if they’re by themselves for that amount of time and it would be mentally tough. Hopefully they can increase the Covid tests and allow people to still visit.