Sunday, 21 October 2018

FAKE PLASTIC BALLS – WHY MY BOYFRIEND HAS SILICONE TESTICLES AND HOW THE F*CK THAT WORKS


I've shared a whole lot about some very personal things in my life recently and this post will be no exception. For those who need bringing up to speed, meet my boyfriend Jack (click to check out his instagram!), he's a musician, artist and all round wonderful person.

Oh, and he also technically has no balls.

Jack had testicular cancer. Twice actually.

While our relationship is still quite new, Jack and I were friends for some time before becoming a couple. We became close friends shortly after his second surgery. He was very open with me though, meaning that while I wasn't around for much of it, by the time he became my boyfriend, I was pretty clear on what had happened already. He'd gotten cancer in one testicle first and had that removed and replaced with a silicone implant, then later developed it in the second one and had the same surgery all over again to replace the second one. All of this I knew, he'd been very forthcoming with all the details so I knew exactly what had happened and how things worked. One time though, while waiting for him to go in for a routine appointment at the hospital, he told me that before he had the second surgery, leaving him with not one but two 'fake plastic balls', he was looking online for information on how things worked afterwards, things, to put it simply, meaning sex, among other things. He told me that though there was a lot of information out there about losing one, there was very little about losing both testicles.

What struck me immediately with this was that so much of what Jack had told me during both our friendship and the beginning of our relationship was things that he'd almost had to just figure out on his own. It was just shocking how little honest information there was out there outside of medical sites about how things are going to work 'down there' after having both testicles removed. I'm not going to go too much into the details of the actual cancer, it may be something to come back to another day, but for now, I wanted to talk about what it's like to be in a relationship with a guy with no balls.

The two biggest changes when having both testicles removed is that the body no longer produces testosterone, therefore testosterone replacement therapy will be essential for the rest of your life - the other is that the guy will of course be infertile. It's such a scary concept for young men and while testicular cancer is rare, it's still one of the most common types in young men, which is why it's so important that it's talked about. For us, the fertility thing isn't an issue. I'm certain about the fact that I've never wanted children and Jack is very much the same. It's not something I'll go into too much, because as someone who isn't concerned about that aspect, I don't feel particularly qualified to talk about the physical and mental difficulties that could cause.

The testosterone thing though I was pretty curious about. I knew that everything still worked down there, but I hadn't really considered how. At the time of writing this, Jack applies testosterone in gel form to his back once a day, this will soon be administered via injection which will be much more convenient than him having to apply every day. This couldn't be done right away simply because the dosage needed to be tested to ensure what he was getting was right. This replaces what isn't being produced by his body any more and basically everything down there is business as usual. Literally.

As his girlfriend, I can honestly say that what Jack went through has had very little effect on me and my relationship with him. Sex works in exactly the same way as it would with real balls, something that is of course a worry for guys going through the same thing. I won't go into graphic detail, because I know I have family that read my blog - but for us at least, there's been absolutely no worries in that department. Something we have both been asked by friends is how we felt about our first time together. For me, it didn't really occur to me at the time. Perhaps because I knew already that everything worked as usual in that department, or perhaps just simply because it wasn't the first thing on my mind when it came down to our first time together. I'm not entirely sure, but I can honestly say, any anticipation I felt was purely down to being with someone new for the first time. As for Jack, I think just knowing that I wasn't concerned meant that he wasn't either. It's something that'll be incredibly personal to anyone in a similar situation, but for us, it was all about confidence and feeling comfortable with one another.

Rather than anything being a problem or an issue, there are just a couple of things that we need to be aware of or things that need to be done every now and then. One thing is the testosterone - it has to be applied to his skin so I therefore can't touch the area until it's all properly soaked in, just because as a female, I don't need testosterone going into my system! This of course will no longer be something to think about when he moves onto the injections. The only other thing is that Jack does have to have fairly regular trips to Hospital - usually in London - to get checked over. Instead of seeing these as an inconvenience though, we both take the day off work and head up to the city, get the appointment done and then spend the rest of the day doing fun things - never a wasted moment over here!

Both Jack and I are fully aware that everyone is different and people going through the same thing won't necessarily have the same experience that Jack did. Of course, finding out he had cancer and going through the necessary process to get that sorted wasn't pleasant. It was something he very much had to process in his own mind, but something I hugely admire about him is his attitude to the whole thing. As much as it was a shock in the beginning of course, with the help of our wonderful NHS, he was given a plan and he dealt with it. He described the situation as a 'faff' more than anything else. Even now, he talks very openly about the situation, wanting others to be aware of it, not for him personally, but for themselves. He went through it and he got through it and it's important to us both that others see that and maybe think to go home and check themselves.

I, of course, can't speak for the Women with partners going through the process of cancer treatment or in the early stages because I wasn't there for that. But as someone who has entered a relationship with someone that's already been through it, I wanted to make the point that actually, it's really okay. Like I said, the fertility side of things certainly could be for some people, but for me and for us, I can genuinely say it doesn't affect our relationship day to day in the slightest.

While I don't want to be at risk of downplaying what is, of course a serious topic, I do want to get across that the 'after' part of testicular cancer isn't necessarily as scary as it may seem. I wanted to write this post very much with Jack's input so that the information I was giving was factually correct, so I hope that some of what I've said has been thought provoking if not directly useful. It's so important to check yourself and know your own body and be aware of any changes - because while the idea of having cancer is undeniably frightening, the risks that come with ignoring warning signs are much worse.

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