Cancer survivor looking forward to Christmas he thought he wouldn't live to see - The Rugby Observer

Cancer survivor looking forward to Christmas he thought he wouldn't live to see

Andy Morris 24th Dec, 2017   0

A NEW lease of life has been found by a cancer survivor who spent last Christmas in his pyjamas nursing a giant scar down his midriff following surgery.

Paul Smith, from Lutterworth, wasn’t sure if he would survive to see this Christmas after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year at the age of just 26.

Having been ‘to hell and back’, he is now looking forward to spending the festive season with his girlfriend – who has been his ‘rock’ – in their first ever home together.

Now in remission, the Morrisons check-out assistant has taken the brave decision to go public about his ‘nightmare year’ to highlight Cancer Research UK’s Right Now campaign.




The charity’s powerful TV adverts show real patients undergoing cancer treatment 1-2 years ago, followed by recent home videos showing how research has helped them get back to enjoying life with their loved ones.

And Paul hopes to draw attention to the impact cancer research has had on his life – giving him more time with the people he loves.


He had just started a new job at Morrisons in Lutterworth and begun a new relationship with girlfriend Stephanie Facer when he discovered a lump in his testicle while having a shower in August last year.

Steph, aged 24, a nursery assistant, eventually persuaded Paul to go to the GP and, to his shock, the doctor examined him and immediately said she thought it was cancer. Paul then had an ultrasound scan which confirmed he needed surgery to remove his testicle.

He said: “Just over a week later I was having an operation. It was unbelievably quick, I barely had time to take it all in.

“After I was diagnosed my aunt died from cancer and I was worried that would be my fate too. My cancer was aggressive so they had to remove the whole testicle.”

But a follow-up CT scan revealed another tumour the size of a 10p piece in Paul’s abdomen. The cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.

So in October 2016 Paul had further surgery to remove the tumour and all the surrounding lymph nodes in his abdomen. The scar stretched from his chest to his groin.

“Steph made me give up smoking when I was diagnosed, but the treatment was so hard and I felt so sorry for myself that I have to admit I gave in to the occasional crafty fag,” said Paul.

“It was only when the cigarettes made me really sick that I realised how much harm they were doing me. My body just rejected them, and when I vomited the pain in my abdomen was awful. That was the point where I gave them up forever.”

To make matters worse, the surgical trauma left Paul with an oesophageal hernia which has given him permanent dietary issues. He was also left infertile by the operation, though the couple hope to one day have children through IVF, using Paul’s sperm which was banked before surgery.

Now in remission and awaiting more surgery on his oesophagus, Paul is keen to share his experience to raise awareness of testicular cancer and the importance of research in developing new treatments.

“I spent last Christmas in my pyjamas, too broke to buy presents and really sore from my massive scar,” he said. “I went to hell and back with the treatment and at times it felt like the worst nightmare.

“But Steph and I have got our own flat now and are looking forward to our first Christmas in it – a Christmas I wasn’t sure if I’d see.

“I’ve beaten cancer, I’ve given up smoking, I’ve changed to a different job at Morissons, and I feel as though I’ve got a whole new life ahead of me. Steph and I hope to have a baby one day and we feel stronger than ever. We just want to get on with our future.

“My experience means I understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important and makes a real difference to people’s lives. I hope people look at the photos of me now, and me back then, and will be inspired to support the Right Now campaign and help even more people survive.”

Cancer Research UK spokesperson Jane Redman said: “We are so grateful to Paul for sharing his cancer story. Our Right Now campaign aims to show both the realities of the disease and the positive impact research can have on a cancer patient’s journey.

“We’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. But we can’t do it alone. We hope our new campaign will inspire people to take action and play their part in beating cancer sooner.

“There are so many ways to show your support here – from signing up to Race for Life, donating items to one of our shops or giving time to volunteer.”

Visit www.cruk.org for more information. Visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/volunteer/become-a-media-volunteer for more details on sharing cancer stories.

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