When doctors told a man he could have an STI, he reacted the same way that many would.
Ant Bigley, who was faithful in his long-term relationship, accused his partner of cheating on him.
But after a “very difficult conversation”, he realised his wife Dawn hadn’t been unfaithful.
This was confirmed by devastating medical test results, which revealed that the 45-year-old actually had testicular cancer .
In an exclusive interview during Movember – a charity event that aims to raise awareness for men’s illnesses – Ant spoke candidly about his experiences.
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A decade ago, when Ant worked as police detention officer, he was suddenly struck with worrying symptoms.
The Merseyside man’s right testicle swelled up to the size of a bell pepper – and the pain was so excruciating that his employer rushed him to hospital in a squad car.
Initially, doctors thought the problem was caused by bruising so sent him home with painkillers.
This wasn’t enough to clear the issue, so Ant returned to his doctor a few weeks later.
He recalled: “Over the following weeks I began to feel increasing ill, shaky and sweaty.
“The swelling hadn’t gone down either so I went back to me GP who said it might be a varicocele or a cyst and gave me antibiotics.”
When the antibiotics didn’t work, doctors believed an STI was causing the swelling.
This was heartbreaking for Ant, who thought his partner Dawn could be cheating on him.
He explained: “When it still didn’t subside, it was suggested that I might have an STI.
“I had a long-term partner (now my wife, Dawn) and I knew that I hadn’t been unfaithful so I had to go home and have that conversation with her.
“She swore she hadn’t been unfaithful and then she asked me the same question – it was a very difficult conversation.”
After talking things out with Dawn, the dad-of-two jetted off to Greece.
He was prescribed more antibiotics before he flew, but the trip still ended up being the “worst holiday of (his) life”.
Ant added: “It was extremely hot the entire week and I sat on the beach underneath an umbrella feeling absolutely terrible.”
Upon returning home to Southport, the patient received a letter referring him to the Linda McCartney centre in Liverpool.
As this is a specialist cancer treatment centre, it was the first indication that he could have a deadly disease.
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Ant undertook an ultrasound and CT scan, which showed he had testicular cancer.
By this point, the disease had taken such a big hold that malignant cells caused his hip to dislocate.
To take on the cancer, doctors removed the patient’s right testicle and put him on a gruelling course of chemotherapy for six months.
Ant remembered: “The chemotherapy was brutal, horrible. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
“Unfortunately, because of the damage to my hip, I was on crutches for 11 months following the surgery.”
While the treatment was successful, the cancer continued to have impacts on Ant’s life.
He wasn’t able to exercise or continue with his physical police job, so was put on desk duties.
This made him feel isolated from his team and former hobbies – and depression soon started to set in.
Ant said: “It was a very dark time. It affected my relationship with my wife. I withdrew from my family and friends. I stopped going out.
“I had no interest in anything and I couldn’t work out why I felt so terrible. My employer sent me on a CBT course which didn’t help.
“It got to the point where I was suicidal. I had picked the time and place I was going to do it.
“I thought everyone would be better off without me. It was only the thought of my five-year-old daughter that stopped me going through with it.”
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Thankfully, Ant has managed to pull himself out of this dark place.
Five years after undertaking surgery on his right testicle, he was finally able to get the the testosterone replacement therapy he needed to feel like himself again.
The Movember supporter is determined to share his story – and hopes it could help others going through similar health battles.
Ant added: “For a long time, I couldn’t even talk about what had happened to me.
“But then I decided that if I could use my experience to help other young lads who are going through the same thing, then that would be a good thing.
“My message to all young men, is to get into the habit of checking yourself regularly. If you notice something that doesn’t feel right, then go to the doctor checked out.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you feel that that you’re not getting the right advice. There’s too much at stake not to take it seriously.”
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