A father-of-two was forced to have his penis amputated after a ‘harmless rash’ turned out to be a rare form of cancer.
Neil Walker, 54, from Bristol, realised something was wrong when discolouration on his genitals was not fading. After being told it was nothing to worry about and prescribed a steroid cream by his GP, Mr Walker insisted on further tests.
He was finally diagnosed with penile cancer in September 2014 and underwent an operation to amputate the tip of his genitals. Yet, when the cancer returned just a few years later, he had to have the entire organ removed.
Due to the cancer spreading, lymph nodes in his groin also had to taken out. This left Mr Walker with a severely weak immune system that saw him on ‘death’s door’ while he battled sepsis four times in just one year.
Now recovered, Mr Walker, who urinates out of a ‘make-shift hole’ behind his testicles, said: ‘I have been left feeling completely de-masculinized and I know that if I had caught the cancer sooner, I’d still have my manhood.’
Speaking of his early symptoms, Mr Walker said: ‘I noticed a rash on the head of my penis and I was given steroid cream by doctors at first as no one thought it was anything too serious.
‘It wasn’t until I returned again a month later that I was referred to the hospital and was told it was penile cancer.
‘As soon as they told me I was shocked, because I thought it was just a rash but suddenly I was entering a battle with cancer.
‘It didn’t even click in my head that I’d need amputations and would eventually lose my penis.’
Just three months after being diagnosed, Mr Walker underwent his first surgery to remove the tip of his penis. Doctors managed to re-create the head of his genitals by taking a skin graft from his leg.
Mr Walker said: ‘When I had the first amputation I wasn’t as sad because they managed to recreate the head of my penis with skin from my leg.’
Despite his optimism, tests revealed the cancer had entered the lymph nodes in his groin, forcing him to go under the knife again to have them removed.
Mr Walker, who is married to his wife Amanda, 48, said: ‘This left me with nothing to fight off infection from the waist down, so I began contracting sepsis four times a year and constantly being on death’s door.
‘Then, after thinking I was doing okay and completely on the mend, I noticed another rash on my penis in August 2017 and I knew the cancer had returned.
‘In this time, I also lost my eyesight in both eyes because of thrombolysis, which has caused complications with my further cancer treatment.
‘In March this year, after more biopsies, I had to have my entire penis amputated and I now urinate out of a make-shift hole behind my testicles.’
Now he has overcome the ordeal, Mr Walker is speaking out to raise awareness of penile cancer symptoms.
Mr Walker, an ex-firefighter, said: ‘With something like this, it’s better to be safe than sorry and always get checked out.
‘I know it can be embarrassing to go to the doctor’s clinic and show them something so intimate, but it could be the difference between saving or losing your genitals.
‘If I had seen a specialist faster, there could have been a chance that I wouldn’t have lost my penis.
‘And although it makes me feel very embarrassed and less of a man, I hope that my story can stop someone else from going through what I have.’