Man has third of penis removed after irritation from pants turned out to be cancer
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A young personal trainer has had to have more than a third of his penis removed following what he believed to be 'irritation caused by his pants' which turned out to be penile cancer.
Fitness fanatic, Joe Merrall said that he initially felt 'less of a man' when surgeons told him that they would have to remove the entire head and some of the shaft of his penis last month on 18 January, following the shocking diagnosis just two days before Christmas.
But after sharing his concern about his adapted love-life with exes and his female pals, Joe was reassured when they joked 'I'd still go there' and commended him for his bravery.
According to the NHS, penile cancer is a rare form of cancer that mostly affects the skin of the penis and the foreskin.
Treatments for most penile cancers that are caught very early can include creams and laser therapy. Any later and treatment can require surgery.
Roughly half of all penile cancers are caused by certain types of a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) and those who are over 50, smoke, or have problems pulling back their foreskin (known as phimosis) are more likely to contract it.
Three weeks on from his operation, Joe's chuffed to know that he will eventually be able to have sex again, but faces an anxious wait to see if the cancer has spread and will result in further surgery.
The 39-year-old cancer survivor has shared his ordeal to spread awareness and encourage blokes like him to regularly check themselves and speak to their GP about anything that's concerning them.
Joe, from Auckland, New Zealand described the moment he received the shocking diagnosis, saying: "When I got the diagnosis I just went numb, I couldn't really hear what the doctor was saying. It was like in the movies where everything goes quiet.
"The doctor ran through all the different scenarios, which included a total penectomy.
"I told my younger brother as I was staying with him at the time and we started making jokes. I was kind of laughing but then I went to lie down on my bed and cried."
Joe said he went through a 'self-pity cycle' for a couple of weeks, drinking himself into a stupor to numb the pain of his diagnosis, but after a while he realised that it wasn't helping and decided to pull himself together.
"Surgery has significantly changed the way it looks. I thought no-one was going to touch me with a 10ft pole after that [the diagnosis] as they'd think I was a freak.
"I told a few exes and female mates when opening up to them about feeling 'less of a man'.
"They said it was brave to talk about it and that 'I would still go there'. I was like 'that's fantastic'."
Joe said he first became concerned when he noticed a small pea-sized lump on the left side of the head of his penis so booked an appointment to see his GP as soon as he could. A doctor examined it by taking a swap and issued anti-fungal cream as they suspected it to be thrush or an STI. However, the lump began to spread and covered his urethra making it excruciatingly painful to urinate, so he decided to seek specialist help in October which led to the devastating news in December.
Describing the 90-minute surgery, Joe said: "In total they took more than a third of my penis.
"It looks weird the way they've sewn it up. My [urine] flow is all over the show. I'm still adjusting but they may well tidy it up at some stage.
"I'll be able to have sex again, but it's still quite tender."
Joe urges anyone reading this to get themselves checked and to go to the doctor about anything they believe not to be normal.
You can donate to Joe's fundraising page here.
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media