Thursday, 9 December, 2010

Cancer survivor to become a father... with sperm he had frozen 16 years ago

A cancer survivor who had sperm frozen 16 years ago - when he has first diagnosed - is to become a father.Christopher Stone, aged 33, was just 17 when he was told that he had testicular cancer. And now, after repeatedly battling the disease - he is looking forward to the birth of his first child, conceived through IVF. Christopher, from Heeley, Sheffield, was told the most effective treatment was to have an operation to remove the affected testicle - a procedure that doctors initially believed had been permanently successful. Before the operation, samples of sperm were collected and stored to ensure that Christopher had the option of trying to have children at a later date if he chose.
The disease returned on several occasions over the following years, most heartbreakingly in 2006 when Christopher was told he had testicular cancer again and would need a second operation.But today his check-ups have been reduced to once a year, and he and his wife Fiona are looking forward to the birth of a baby boy in January.Christopher said: 'It's absolutely amazing. We've been under the care of the Jessop's hospital and the second lot of IVF was successful.'Physically I feel fine and, although it's still worrying each time I go for an appointment, it feels now like we're turning a corner and looking forward.'Once the baby is here in January it will definitely feel like a new chapter - we're really excited and just can't wait!'
Christopher was only a teenager when he first became concerned about symptoms that suggested something was wrong.
'It was pretty horrendous for a 17-year-old boy to think about and to deal with,' he said.'And then to be told the only effective treatment was to have the operation - well, that's a tough thing to get your head round at any age, but especially at that time in your life.' Doctors believed they had caught the disease before it spread, but months later Christopher was told he would also need chemotherapy at Weston Park Cancer Hospital in Sheffield.Christopher had started a degree in IT at Sheffield Hallam University, but was forced to give it up because of the demands of his treatment.But, soon after the chemotherapy, things started to look more positive, and he married college sweetheart Fiona when he was 20.Just two weeks after the wedding, Christopher faced another setback, with news that doctors had found tumours in his stomach. The couple spent their honeymoon in the North General Hospital while he had surgery, only to discover he needed another operation six months later to remove benign tumours from his throat.
After these setbacks, Christopher began to move forwards. He returned to Sheffield Hallam University to complete a degree in business information systems before getting a job.But by the summer of 2006 he noticed the all-too-familiar symptoms again, and he was given a second testicular diagnosis.Christopher said: 'It was 10 times more devastating thanwhen I was 17. Having to undergo that operation again was heartbreaking.' After a course of radiotherapy, Christopher was finally given the all-clear and now his follow-up appointments have been reduced to annually.He has been backing the Movember fundraising and awareness campaign for men's cancer - where supporters grow a moustache throughout the month of November.