Harry's Story

My Life in Pictures

Diagnosed with testicular cancer 1992, I had surgery to remove the offending organ. As is the way with this type of experience one’s outlook on life changes somewhat and you end up going off the deep end and doing out of character’ things.
Mine was - that at the age of 32 I was getting my first tattoo, which was on my right shoulder. I was and still am very proud of my first tattoo, (for the tattoo anoraks it was a tiger on my right shoulder), however after a while I began to feel lopsided and felt that I needed another tattoo on my other shoulder to ‘balance things’.
I had now succumbed to cliché with “It’s a long road to your first tattoo but a very short one to your second”
Over the years it has become a tradition for me to get a tattoo annually – I suppose it’s a statement saying ‘I’m still here’, and that’s how it continued until 2007, when I was diagnosed with cancer again, this time with invasive bladder cancer, requiring me to have chemotherapy and radical surgery to remove my bladder, prostate and lymph nodesand the creation of a ‘stoma’ which means I have to wear a bag – basically I had my insides re-plumbed.
It’s a lot to deal with and I would never say I am happy with it however I have learned to live with it. (This next line should be read in a whispery voice) I’ve heard that some people give their stoma’s names and speak to them. (You can read normally now), I must say I’ve never felt the need to do that yet and I don’t think I would know were to begin or what to call it. It would be a bit like the pressure on parents when picking a baby’s name and making sure it’s the right one in order not to offend anyone, maybe there’s a book out there called ‘Popular Stoma Names’ I will have to check out Amazon on that one, however back to reality.
Chemotherapy was like having a hangover for four months and surgery was tough, enough said, I want to live in the now and not the past. So here I am with a few limitations, a ‘new me’ if you will. So applying the tried and trusted mantra of all cancer survivors ‘Take it one day at a time’ I resolved to turn the BIG C into the small c (did you see what I did with the words there-good- no –never mind).
One of the ways I have chosen to do this is once again through the medium of tattoo. My wife and I devised, dreamed up, designed what ever you want to call it, a tattoo that poked fun at my condition and brings a smile to my face every time I see it. It’s a tattoo right beside my stoma bag of a road sign with the words ‘Waterworks Bust – Use Diversion.’
So the tradition continues and I am still here.