BANGOR, Northern Ireland
Youngest of four children, I have two brothers and a sister. I was brought up in Donegal Town, the ideal place to spend a childhood. Educated at boarding school in Coleraine, where I was an adequate scholar. My school sporting activity was confined to running, both cross-country and track. I learned very early that I had absolutely no aptitude whatsoever for ball games, I was long-sighted and therefore unable to focus down quickly enough to see a ball coming towards me. Best running performances were 64th in All-Ireland Cross-Country Championships  and a Marathon in 3h 22m 20s in 1969.
Cycled as a boy, taught by my father, and when I was old enough, rode his big Humber Roadster, a real heavyweight tank of a bike but so comfortable. Adult inactivity followed apart from some running, London Marathon in 1982 in 4h 18m despite a damaged Achilles tendon. In August 2000, at the age of 50, took up cycling again on doctor?s advice following cancer treatment, but do more cycling on stationary and spinning bikes in the gym than on the very dangerous roads round Bangor.
Worked in the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum 1970-71; returned to full-time education ?71-?74; taught History ?74-?75 and in 1976 returned to the Museum as an Education Officer until March 2000 when cancer interrupted the ?career?. On my return to work in April 2001 I moved from the frenetic world of museum education to the calmer life of a researcher and writer.
All in all a charmed life ? a good satisfying job which has continually thrown up wonderful opportunities and fascinating challenges - one of the best being asked to be responsible for planning and writing the permanent exhibition of the Museum?s fine bicycle collection.
Single, never married, no children. Since 1998 I have been my elderly mother?s principal carer.
General Cancer Type: Testicular
Specific Cancer Type: Choriocarcinoma
After four months of misdiagnosis, promises of tests that never quite materialised, arguments with doctors, and eventually by-passing the [UK] National Health Service and paying privately for consultations and tests, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer on 16th May 2000, three and a half months before my 51st birthday. I was told that I should be in hospital the next morning as the theatre was booked for 4pm that afternoon to remove the left testicle and my chemotherapy was booked to begin on 29th May.
Because of delayed diagnosis the cancer had spread to the abdomen, lungs and the lymph glands in my neck, an MRI scan confirmed it, thankfully, hadn?t spread to my brain. My bHCG was 182,325 instead of less than 5,and anything over 50,000 automatically classifies you as being in the most serious category.
The tumour in the abdomen was the size of a grapefruit and caused some serious complications. It was pressing on every organ down there, especially the intestines causing some serious bleeding which went unnoticed until post-surgery blood tests showed my haemoglobin level had dropped to about 6.4,[dangerously low]. Blood transfusions followed and an extra four days in hospital.
Chemo began on 29th May as planned, in spite of the fact that I collapsed and had to be rushed back to hospital as blood levels had again dropped. As soon as the chemo hit the abdominal tumour all hell broke loose, first night I bled about seven pints of blood and emergency transfusions began, so while chemo drugs dripped into one arm, blood dripped into the other - two wheely poles, two pumps, two bags and two tubes. The following day I was moved to a bigger hospital with 24-hour operating theatre capacity and that night apparently I bled about 10 pints and was rushed to theatre in the early hours of the morning. I was later told that I was really not expected to be alive at breakfast time. After a very strict ?Nil by Mouth? regime my weight dropped to 135lbs but at least the abdominal problem was dealt with. By comparison, the rest of my 4xBEP chemo regime went smoothly and uneventfully, and finished on 17th August. By Christmas my blood markers had finally returned to normal, surgery and stem cell harvesting were judged to be unnecessary and life began to return to normal. Returned to work in April 2001, after 13 months' absence, and in June suffered a severe bout of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, quite typical and very unpleasant but I got over it with some professional help.
Currently in follow-up, six-monthly check-ups. A fuller account of my cancer ?adventure? is available at http://tcrc.acor.org/stories/andyand.html - soon to be updated.
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