A couple's surfing holiday in Cornwall brought shock waves after an emergency trip to the doctor led to a cancer diagnosis. As part of World Cancer Day, on February 4, Ellie Higham discusses how quickly things progressed for her boyfriend Liam and is urging people to spot the signs
Liam Cryer was in St Ives for an autumn surfing holiday with his girlfriend, Ellie Higham, when he revealed he was worried about something.
After a trip to a GP in the resort, the 24-year-old joiner from Lytham was told he had a tumour, and he needed to go home immediately to see his own consultant.
A week later, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
To mark World Cancer Day on February 4, Ellie, 22, wishes to share Liam’s story to encourage men and women to see a doctor if they think something is wrong.
She says: “Liam had a huge lump which he had not told me about for about a week before we had gone away.
“When we got there, he didn’t want to go surfing in the sea, which we do most years.
“I managed to get out of him that there was something wrong, but he still wouldn’t tell me what it was.
“When we got to the cottage, he broke down in tears. He was worried about his lump, but he would not show me.
“We were about eight hours away from home and I didn’t know what to do. I told him to ring 111 as I could not look at it.
“It took a lot of persuading because he was embarrassed but I told him, they have heard it all hundreds of times and they are professional.
“They told him to go to a GP and, after a Google search, we found a walk-in centre.
“When we got there, we were told we had to book an appointment, so we did for the next day.
“The doctor identified a tumour on Liam’s testicle, but could not say if it was cancer. He shone a light on it to see if it was just a cyst but it was solid so was definitely a tumour.
“He told us to go home straight away.
“We went to our GP who booked Liam in for an ultrasound a week later. They called with the results later that day to say it was cancer.
“We were devastated. It was such a shock as we had gone on holiday and came home with something more serious.
“Saying the word has such bad connotations, but in reality it is not that bad for Liam.
“He will be fine after treatment, but when you hear the word it is not nice. I was trying to be brave for him and I didn’t want him to see me cry.
“A week after diagnosis he had surgery to remove the tumour and we thought that would be it, but a couple of weeks ago we were told he needed three months of chemotherapy.
“By April he would have finished, and we will go from there.”
As Liam as been receiving support and treatment from Rosemere Cancer Centre, in Preston, and Ellie has decided to take on the Stanley Park 10k run in Blackpool on February 23 to raise funds.
She adds: “The one good thing to come out of this is that Liam is determined to raise awareness of testicular cancer and the importance of younger men checking themselves for lumps and, if they find something, not bottling it up like he did.
“Liam is very sporty and fit. If this can happen to him, it really can happen to anyone.
“Unlike Liam, I’m not really that athletic and I hate running, but I want to give something back for the care and treatment Liam is receiving, which is why I am doing a sponsored 10k.
“We were both meant to do a 10k last October, but we had to postpone it due to Liam’s diagnosis.”
With Liam cheering her on, Ellie, who works for the Department for Work and Pensions, is confident she will cross the finish line to collect the £442 she has already been pledged by family, friends and work colleagues.
To boost her donation, visit www.justgiving.com/ellie-higham
For more information on what is being done to raise awareness today, visit www.worldcancerday.org/