A YOUNG father from Anglesey has spoken of his battle with testicular cancer with the aim of raising awareness of the disease.

Richard Williams was only 33-years-old when he found himself facing a confirmed diagnosis, just six months after he and his wife, Sara, discovered they were expecting their first child.

Richard, from Llanfair PG, first noticed that something was not right when he began experiencing a dull ache in his right testicle.

"It was in October last year that I started experiencing symptoms," he said.

"The ache was there for around three to four days and I started to experience lower back pain. At first my GP thought it might have been an infection but when I started experiencing severe swelling I was referred for an ultra sound scan at Ysbyty Gwynedd."

Six days after his scan, Richard visited the Urology Department at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

Tests confirmed the worst of his fears – he had testicular cancer and the affected testicle would need to be removed. As a result, Richard was immediately listed for surgery.

At this point, he met Uro-Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist Linda Williams.

“Linda was brilliant, she was very reassuring," Richard said.

"She provided me with leaflets on testicular cancer when I was diagnosed which was really helpful as I didn’t really know much about the disease.

"She took the time to explain the whole process and answer all the questions I had."

Following surgery, Richard was transferred to the Alaw Unit, for further follow up and treatment, including a course of chemotherapy for three weeks.

"The chemotherapy was gruelling, I lost my hair, and I had tinnitus, nausea and suffered from extreme fatigue," Richard said.

"It was tough, it felt like the worst hangover ever. But I had great support from my oncologist, Dr Anna Mullard, who is incredibly caring and very supportive."

Dr Mullard has praised Richard for speaking publicly about his experience to raise awareness as she believes it is a topic that needs to be raised.

"Testicular cancer is not common, with an annual UK incidence of 2,400 men, we can expect to see between 40 and 50 new cases per year in North Wales," she said.

"This is a cancer of young men, it occurs anywhere between 15 and 45 years of age but nearly half of men are under the age of 35.

"In most cases (90%) a lump will be the first clue that there is a problem, but not always, sometimes it can be a pain, ache or dragging sensation.

"It is very easy to check for changes like these and I would urge all men of any age to make checking their testicles a regular habit.

"Richard is a very brave young man, having to cope with surgery, chemotherapy and the birth of his first child all at the same time. I am honoured and humbled to have met him."

Luckily, Richard’s treatment finished a few weeks before his daughter, Anni, was born and he was able to be by wife Sara’s side during the birth.

"Looking back now I am glad that I went to the GP when I did - that few seconds of embarrassment saved my life. My cancer was caught early and luckily it hadn’t spread to any other part of my body.

"Since my diagnosis I have spoken a lot more openly about testicular cancer with friends and encouraged them to check themselves more often.

"Dr Mullard recommended a friendship and support group, ‘Checkemlads’ which is online. I found them extremely helpful to get me through it all.

"It was a shock when I was told I had cancer as you never think this will happen to you, but it can.

"I hope by sharing my story it will encourage other men to be more aware of any changes in their body and to seek medical help straight away as it could save their lives."