CANCER touches the lives of many, but two brothers have been affected by the disease more than most.
Brothers James and Nick Clarke have battled testicular cancer three times between them in just six years.
James, from Stonesfield, was just 25 when he had his first scare. Now 32, he said: “It was 2005 and I noticed a lump in my testicles in the shower. Being 25 and probably a little embarrassed, I didn’t go to the doctor straight away. But when I did I was sent for an ultrasound, and then I had an operation to remove the lump, which revealed it was cancer.”
He continued: “I was shocked that I had cancer at such an early age – at that age you think you are invincible. But I was treated successfully and got on with my life. But then Nick was diagnosed too.”
Nick, 29, from Wheatley, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in August 2010, just two weeks after James had been given the all-clear after five years of monitoring.
Cancer Research UK estimates the odds of brothers in their 20s both developing the disease is just 15 in 100,000.
A chef at St Anne’s College, Oxford, Nick said: “On the first day of a holiday in America I noticed a lump in one of my testicles. Soon after I returned to the UK I learned I had testicular cancer which had already spread to my stomach.”
Nick needed a course of chemotherapy as well as surgery, but found support from his brother, his girlfriend Sophie, and parents Cilla and Brian, invaluable.
He said: “Finding out I had cancer was terrifying, but I felt stronger knowing my brother had already beaten it and the fact I knew the signs meant I got it checked straight away, which could have saved my life.”
Nick had three cycles of successful chemo.
But the brothers’ ordeal wasn’t over. In 2011, James – father to a two-year-old daughter, Molly – was diagnosed with a different type of testicular cancer. He said: “Learning I had cancer now that I was a dad was a lot more scary for me and I did think about the prospect that I might not survive it a second time around and what that would mean for Molly.
“My partner Jessica (34) and I talked to Molly a little about it, but she was only two at the time. The only thing she might have noticed really was I couldn’t pick her up for a while after surgery.”
James did not need chemo-therapy and like his brother is part-way through a five- year remission period.
Nick said: “I think having cancer has made both of us more determined to make the most of our lives and also to encourage other people to be more aware of the signs of cancer and to act quickly if they have concerns.”
STAND UP TO CANCER
BROTHERS James and Nick Clarke have joined stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, Alan Carr and Davina McCall in offering their support to Cancer Research UK’s latest campaign Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C).
The campaign will culminate in a live variety show on Friday, October 19.
For more go to standuptocancer.org