BY TOBY PORTER
A young man has been battling social stigmas around cancer by having a celebratory ‘ball-voyage’ party to celebrate the removal of his testicle.
Twenty-six year old Justin Robertson from Wimbledon was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago and made the decision to tackle his illness head-on.
After telling his friends about his diagnosis they joined together to discard the stigmas surrounding testicular cancer.
They all helped to take the fear away from his diagnosis and threw Justin a ‘ball-voyage’ party.
Justin said: “At the age of 24, I never imagined I was going to be walking around with one ball.
When I told my friends, they were incredibly upset but very quickly after that, they decided to throw me a party and they called it the ‘Ball-Voyage Party’.
“They prepared hilarious catering – round doughnuts, scotch eggs. And we had a playlist featuring the likes of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball and Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire.
“Despite what was potentially a terrifying situation, everyone had a really good sense of humour around it and that made me feel much more comfortable.
“And as soon as I was really open with them, then they were open with me. It gave me so much strength, knowing that I had this unit of people that were all going to be there for me, through whatever.
Gradually, by telling more and more people, the stronger I have felt.”
Justin is only one individual trying to buck the stigma as Macmillan Cancer Support launch a campaign to make sure that people seek help from cancer support charities.
Macmillan has warned people that many people face deteriorating health as they are
too ashamed to seek help because of cancer ‘taboos’.
Justin said: “I put off an important conversation with a medical professional for a long time.
“But I also put off really serious conversations with close friends and family, who would have been with me and supported me if they had known – people who would have offered to come to that clinic with me, so I wouldn’t have been on my own when I was getting the news.
I’m just really thankful I did have that have that chat when I did.”
Many people suffer from anxiety and depression, sex and relationship issues and bowel and bladder problems as a side-effect of their illness.
A poll for Macmillan showed these common side-effects are seen as taboo by the general public in London.
The poll also revealed that one in five people found it difficult to seek help for these side-
effects due to feeling embarrassed.
Archana Sood, Macmillan information and support manager at Kingston Hospital, said: “It’s really sad that despite dealing with a serious illness, people are too embarrassed to ask for help with the associated physical and financial problems as well as their mental well-being.
Patients that I work with can often experience problems with incontinence, erectile dysfunction and relationships.
“I find these are some of the topics that people feel most embarrassed to broach, but not
addressing these issues can have a huge impact on physical and emotional health, and in some instances, even treatment outcomes.
“We all have a responsibility to talk honestly about how cancer affects people. Unless we, as a society, get over our embarrassment, people with cancer will continue to struggle alone with serious issues.”