Cancer survivor from Great Cornard rallies community to join charity campaign against disease
A father, who thought he would never have children because of testicular cancer, is urging people to support the Stand Up to Cancer campaign.
Paul Thompson, 35, was diagnosed and treated successfully for testicular cancer three years ago.
Before beginning chemotherapy treatment, he had his sperm stored so that he could have a child by in vitro fertilization or IVF.
He and his wife, Caren, of Applegate Mews, Great Cornard, are now the proud parents of two-and-a-half-year-old Alfie.
Paul, who works as a delivery driver, is rallying people to make a stand against cancer by getting sponsored to wear outrageous, funny or unpredictable clothing in Stand Up To Cancer, a joint fundraising campaign by Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.
Paul is hoping that, by sharing his own experience, it will motivate others to get involved in he campaign’s fortnight of fundraising, which runs from October 11 to 25.
He said: “Having a family has always been important to me. I never thought I wouldn’t have children and, when I met Caren, we both decided we wanted to try for a family as soon as possible.
“Before I started the first lot of chemotherapy, I was advised by Addenbrooke’s Hospital to have my sperm stored at a sperm bank in Cambridge.
“From the start of IVF to my son being born, it was just 18 months. We had only one cycle of IVF. I know we were very fortunate compared to what some people go through.”
Paul feared he would never become a dad after being diagnosed with cancer, aged 29.
He said: “I was getting pain in my groin area and I left it, thinking it would go away.
“I mentioned it a few times to Caren who told me to go to the doctor. I eventually did. I explained my situation and the doctor thought it might be a water infection and prescribed antibiotics for four weeks.”
Paul thought the antibiotics would quickly kick in and he would soon be back to full health, but the pain in his groin grew steadily worse.
“After about five weeks, it was still there, so I went back and saw a different GP,” said Paul.
“He sent me for an ultrasound and then it all snowballed from there. They found a lump which was cancerous. I had my testicle removed at the beginning of December – within six weeks of first going to my GP.
“When they told me it was cancer, it was one of those situations when I was just not responding; it just wasn’t sinking in. I was so scared. I just didn’t know what to do.
“Caren was wonderful, though. Without her, I’m not sure I would have coped.”
Paul began chemotherapy at Addenbrooke’s and then went back for regular check-ups every two months.
His recovery was going well until a routine scan revealed a lump in his lower abdomen.
“I went in for another CT scan the following day and it confirmed the lump. They arranged for me to have more chemo. I had no idea what was going on. It was all so fast-paced.
“The second time around, the chemo was much stronger. The first time, I didn’t really suffer from sickness, just hair loss, but, the second time, I had hair loss and sickness and it was quite horrible,” he added.
After chemotherapy and surgery, Paul was told the lump was not cancerous. But then came the worrying news that the treatment may have left him infertile.
He added: “It was really special becoming a dad, but really scary at the same time. But now I wouldn’t change anything. Alfie is blond with blue eyes and is mischievous and into everything. He’s just the best.
“He’s just started nursery. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. We call him our miracle baby.
“I’m so grateful for the treatment that saved my life. That’s why I’m giving my heartfelt support to this vitally important campaign.”
To get involved, visit www.su2c.org.uk.
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