A BRAVE man has spoken about his battle against testicular cancer.
Andy Merritt, of Llwyn Onn, Wrexham, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in March 2011, when he was just 26.
The supermarket team leader needed surgery to remove a testicle before starting chemotherapy treatment to reduce the chance of the cancer returning.
Mr Merritt found that having seven weeks off work during the chemotherapy left him feeling low.
“It was a bit of a struggle during the treatment and, the longer it went on, the worse it got,” he said.
“At the time I didn’t really think I was feeling down about it and I didn’t want to upset my partner Vicky, but then I would lose my temper and break down for the day.
“I felt like I wanted to deal with it myself and not be a burden on other people.”
Once his treatment had finished Mr Merritt was well enough to return to work, but he still struggled.
“I thought I would find it hard physically but I wasn’t expecting to feel down in myself,” he said.
“I would want to go home early and I wouldn’t want to be there as I felt safer at home.
“People were being careful around me and I wanted them to treat me like they had done before.”
Mr Merritt started feeling better with support from Vicky, by sharing his experiences on the Macmillan Cancer Support’s online community and by talking to an acquaintance who had also had cancer.
He said: “It felt nice to speak to someone who had been through it before.
“He probably doesn’t realise how much he helped me.”
Mr Merritt was told that the cancer was in remission in August 2011.
More than two years on, he and Vicky are now married and have a 10-month-old son Ewan.
Mr Merritt’s latest six monthly check up earlier this month went well.
“I’m doing really well,” he added. “I think lots of people helped to pull me through, including Vicky and a very good family around me.”
Macmillan Cancer Support said a survey has found about 16 per cent of people living with cancer in North Wales experience loneliness as a result of the disease – affecting an estimated 4,300 people.
The loneliness can cause people to drink more, struggle to leave the house, have problems sleeping or have dietary problems or skip meals, the study also found.
Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “It’s hard enough for people being hit with the devastating news that they have cancer, without having to suffer the additional effects that being lonely brings.
“This is a growing problem which is only set to get worse as the number of people diagnosed with cancer in Wales doubles from 120,000 to 240,000 in the next 20 years.
“From the results of the recent Wales Cancer Patient Experience Survey, we know that not all people living with cancer are getting a key worker, an assessment and written care plan and the information and support they need.
“Macmillan Wales would like health boards and the Welsh Government to ensure these things are available to all cancer patients, as outlined in the Cancer Delivery Plan, to help them to face cancer with all of the support they need.”