Malachi’s story: I knew something wasn’t right

Author: Movember

It was March 2009 when New Plymouth builder Malachi Barnes was sitting on the couch, hands down his pants, and felt a mass on the bottom half of his left testicle.

It felt like it just appeared. I went to sleep and checked again in the morning. I Googled ‘lump on testicle’ and it wasn’t good reading, so I booked in to see my GP.

Two weeks later, I’m lying on a bed with a machine rolling over my testicle. I could see the mass on the screen, but the radiographer said it could be anything.

I then saw a general surgeon, and his “gut” feeling was that there was nothing to worry about - it should go away with some antibiotics.

In May 2009, I headed off to London. For around two months, I knew that something wasn’t right. I felt off most days, but thought it was just the unhealthy lifestyle I was living.

Then the lump started to change. It felt like it was getting bigger, and I knew I needed to make my way home. I arrived back in New Zealand in late August, and just two days later I was back with my GP booking another ultrasound. The lump had grown by about 5-10 mm and I knew then that something was seriously wrong.

After surgery to remove the cancerous testicle, I was booked in for an MRI scan as a precaution. I went back the following week for the test results and remember walking into that office expecting to hear the ‘good news’. The doctor then sat me down and said something I will never forget. The cancer had spread and I had another four tumors. One on my pelvis, two in my abdomen and one on my lung. I thought I was a dead man. My bloods were now through the roof, and I could be facing up to six months of chemo.

“In May 2009, I headed off to London. For around two months, I knew that something wasn’t right. I felt off most days, but thought it was just the unhealthy lifestyle I was living.”

 

The day after I got back from Palmy, my wife and I started dating. It was just five days after my first round of chemo. She will never know how much starting a new relationship and the happiness that came with that helped with what I was going through.

I had a 90 per cent chance of beating the cancer by Christmas, and that’s exactly what I did.

For years I would struggle with anxiety when I had a check-up coming up. Now, eight and a half years on, I often think about what I’ve been through. I no longer have check-ups and after losing my sperm count completely for about three years, I have two boys.

Thanks to my oncologist Richard Isaacs and his team, I have the chance to enjoy life with my wife and boys.