Stefanie Inman-Shore and her partner Matt reveal why they haven't given up on their dream of being parents and why the Movember movement is a lifesaver
We were at a party the day before our lives changed forever. I distinctly remember Matt being off and he wouldn’t tell me why. The next day my 28-year-old fiancé admitted he’d felt a lump in his testicle while showering the day before – the party was officially over.
Matt’s dad, grandad and uncle all survived testicular cancer, so it wasn’t an unimaginable shock for him to discover the disease. But it was for me. Aged 30, both my auntie and nan had died from cancer, so I knew it always tried its best to destroy lives and I was terrified of losing Matt.
Days after his first GP appointment in August 2017, he was fast tracked to the hospital for tests (Matt was insistent given his family history). I thought the worst, especially when hospital staff brought up the word ‘cancer’. Doctors found the disease in both testicles and the only option was to have a bilateral orchiectomy, which was both testicles removed. It was incredibly scary to see the man who’d I’d been engaged to for 10 months become so vulnerable, but I did my best to be the strong, dry-eyed support he so desperately needed.
One thing I’ve never been able to forgive myself for is not being at the hospital appointment when Matt was told he couldn’t have biological children. I’d just started a new job and he was adamant I didn’t take any time off – I think because it was one part of his life he could control. It’s my biggest regret and my voice still breaks when I relive it. When I eventually got hold of Matt he sobbed down the phone, saying he’d let my parents down because he couldn’t give them grandchildren. My heart broke for him and our loss.
In November, Matt – who I met through my job in sales back in 2015 – had one session of chemo (I spent mornings cleaning sick out the shower, which was lovely). Now he’s in remission and will be on testosterone injections for the rest of his life, but he’s lucky the cancer was caught early and hadn’t spread.
Because we haven’t had a child, I don’t know what it’s like to miss one – but I know what it would be like to miss Matt, and that’s an unthinkable thought. At first he thought I would leave him, but we are a team. Always.
We married in April this year, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it was an incredibly emotional day. When Matt thanked me for standing by him I allowed myself a little weep. Today, we are actively looking into adoption and sperm donation, an overwhelming and exciting option. It’s definitely not been easy, especially as after Matt’s op he found being around children really hard, and he cried when we went into a family pub and saw kids running around.
How has cancer changed us? We’re far more open with our feelings, and this has extended into our friendship group. All of Matt’s mates now regularly check themselves and express their emotions regarding health, work or money stress.
Since he was diagnosed, Matt has raised £26,000 for the Movember Foundation, through a variety of fundraising projects. This month, he’s taking part in the MoRunning Nottingham event on 17 November, and he’s even training for his first half Iron Man next year.
Matt, you’re my hero, and I wouldn’t want to do life without you.’
Matt: ‘Having cancer made me a better human being’
‘To be told I wouldn’t be able to have children of my own made me break down in tears. I thought with today’s technology it would be straightforward to freeze my sperm and use it later in life, but that wasn’t the case.
Even now when my wife and I are out walking and there are children around I feel guilt, even though it is out of my control and we have exciting plans in place to extend our family. I’m currently leaning more towards using a donor, instead of adoption, because I want Stef to experience the beautiful process of pregnancy.
Cancer has stripped me of so much, but strangely, it’s given me more in return. I’m a better human being with more perspective because of it.
Please remember, cancer doesn’t care if you’re 25 or 85 – it will try to kill you. You can take that power back by doing regular checks.’
Did you know?
- Movember is the leading charity dedicated to changing the face of men’s health in the UK. Globally, men are dying six years earlier than women due to health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide.
- According to Cancer Research UK, men whose fathers had testicular cancer are around four times more likely to develop it and those with a brother affected are around eight times more likely to develop it.
- Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men aged between 25-34. Although the outcome for most cases is positive, a 95% chance of survival is of no comfort to the one in twenty who won’t make it.
- Movember returns today with its annual month-long fundraiser, challenging men across the UK to grow a moustache and raise vital funds. Mo Bros can sign up at movember.com and start with a cleanly shaven face on Friday 1st November.