Shared By: Roger B., Alabama
This story of misdiagnosed penile cancer was submitted by Roger B. from Alabama.
“In 2015 I noticed a small red blotch on the glans of my penis and thought it was just a spot, but it started to turn into a lump. I started to get concerned so after much thought I saw my doctor who on examination didn’t know what it was and referred me to a clinic for sexually transmitted infection testing.
Upon entering the clinic, I saw a female doctor, which was a bit awkward. She said it was a genital wart and I could have contracted this decades ago and it can suddenly appear. I was given a solution to help remove the “wart” and applied it three times daily with no real effect. I revisited the clinic and was assured it was “just a wart,” and it would go in time. Unfortunately, the lump started growing and became ulcerated.
During this time, I chose to keep this from my wife and started sleeping in the guest room. I used the excuse that my snoring would keep her awake, when really, I was ashamed, lost, and didn’t want her to worry. This lasted for months, and roughly six months later, I noticed a second “wart” on my penis- which seemed to be growing even faster than the first.
Finally, after a year, I filled my wife in on what was happening and showed her myself. She was horrified, and immediately began making phone calls to numerous specialists in our area. She vowed to help me through this and could not understand why I did not tell her. We saw a new doctor together and after the initial exam, he was confident that I had been misdiagnosed with an STI. I had an immediate, same day biopsy, and my new specialists rushed all of the results.
I was referred out to another urology specialist who had dealt with more malignant melanomas on the penis, as mine was said to be around stage 3, very rare, and would require extreme intervention. I was admitted to the hospital within the next week to have a glansectomy- which I had quickly learned meant that my glans penis would be removed and recreated. After the removal of my glans penis, there were plans to craft a neo-glans penis, which would help me to feel normal once again.
Unfortunately, during my recovery from the neo-glans being added on, I developed a massive infection which was far worse than the recovery from the plastic surgery. I was in the hospital for nearly three weeks dealing with the infection and getting control of my body again. The neo-glans healed very well, and all of my doctors were hopeful.
Roughly three months later during a doctor exam and check-up, they noted a growth on my penis in a new area, away from the neo-glans and previous surgery. After the biopsies were done on the new growth and proven to be another cancer, I was scheduled to have a partial penectomy and another new neo-glans attached after removal. This visit went very well and I did not pick up any infections.
I spent part of 2017 and 2018 having regular and routine visits with my urologist and dermatologist to help watch for new developing cancers or relapses. Losing my sexual self was difficult, but something I have adjusted to. Thankfully, I was left with enough penile muscle to retain feeling and partial function. I now rely on devices and medications help with my intimate and sexual needs & I am grateful to have my wife- who has held on to ever corner on this seatbelt-less ride.
While penile cancer and the multiple surgeries forever changed who I was and my life, it really did become more about finding and molding this new life I still had into something I could live with. I have been lucky to have knowledgeable doctors and specialists who all worked to help me learn how to work with my new and lost functions, and who helped me to understand how important the mental side of healing was as well.”
Q- “Were there stand-out symptoms or signs of your cancer?”
- “Yes, I had a small, wart-looking growth for nearly nine months before I had it checked out.”
Q- “Do you have any advice for others?”
- “Absolutely do not wait to get something checked out if it wasn’t there or shouldn’t be there- anywhere- on your body. And always tell your wife right away. I still catch hell for leaving her out of the loop for the first year.”
Q- “Now after your surgeries and recovery, are you still able to be intimate and fill your sexual needs?”
- “Yes, often. While we did have to learn how to work with my new body which took months, we have really found our way, and I would say are now more connected than ever. I would advise others to never give up and reach out for help in any way you need.”
At Reclaiming Intimacy, we love to share Stories of HOPE to help others feel like they are not alone, and to help share valid treatments, tips, tricks and suggestions with others possibly going through the same thing. These stories are not sold or shared other than on our website and social media outlets.