Lincoln Chipembere – Making every shot count
Despite Lincoln Chipembere having to delay his wedding due to a testicular cancer diagnosis, he took it in his stride with the extraordinary support of his fiancé.
Lincoln Chipembere (29) lives in Midrand, Gauteng.
Last year May, Lincoln noticed swelling of one of his testicles, so he went to a GP. The doctor asked him if he played any sports to which Lincoln explained he played soccer recreationally, most Saturdays, with his friends. The doctor told him to avoid any sports as he thought it could be bruising and antibiotics were prescribed. However, when Lincoln went back for a follow-up, there was no improvement and stronger antibiotics were prescribed. After the third visit, the GP referred Lincoln to a urologist.
The urologist did blood tests and Lincoln’s alpha fetoprotein and beta Human chorionic gonadotrophin (tumour markers) levels were high.
“He told me I had testicular cancer and if he doesn’t remove it I would die and that a bilateral radical orchiectomy was booked for the next week. I was to go downstairs for a CT scan before coming back next week for surgery. I walked out of there so confused and panicked as he didn’t explain my diagnosis properly nor what the surgery entailed. I remember phoning my fiancé in the parking lot and telling her about his poor delivery of my diagnosis. I sat in my car for an hour, to get in a better space of mind before I drove,” Lincoln recalls.
Lincoln explains that he was going to go ahead with what the urologist suggested but thankfully it was his fiancé who done research on testicular cancer and showed Lincoln what a bilateral radical orchiectomy entailed.
“I wasn’t fully informed on the extent of this surgery and was in no position to make a decision on whether I wanted this surgery or not,” Lincoln says.
For this reason, Lincoln’s fiancé suggested he go for a second opinion. This urologist explained that a bilateral radical orchiectomy wasn’t the only option; he suggested only removing the affected testicle and explained the surgery in detail. He also asked Lincoln about whether he would want children in the future and explained that if he did, he should consider the banking of his sperm. Chemotherapy was also explained in that if the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, it would be needed after surgery, and he would be referred to an oncologist.
The 29-year-old felt much more at ease after the consult with the second urologist and decided to go with his suggestion. He underwent a radical orchiectomy in October 2021 and due to his tumour markers still being high, Lincoln started chemotherapy (three 21-day cycles) in December.
Before starting chemotherapy, the oncologist also informed Lincoln about banking his sperm and referred him to various facilities that could assist him. Since Lincoln is engaged to be married and they want children in the future, he took up this option and banked his sperm.
The side effects that Lincoln experienced from chemotherapy were hair loss, weight gain, discolouring of his nails and hands. He adds, “During treatment, I also struggled with my emotions. Like if I was unhappy, I was really unhappy.” Thankfully, his fiancé was aware of this and contacted The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and he was contacted via the CANSA Tele counselling.
During the last week of Lincoln’s chemotherapy, his mother came to South Africa from Zimbabwe to offer him support which Lincoln appreciated.
Financing cancer treatment
Due to Lincoln being on his employer’s choice of medical cover, which is a medical insurance, none of his cancer treatment was covered and he had to pay for his treatment (around R300 000) privately.
“My fiancé and I were supposed to get married last December. However, we decided to delay the wedding and use the money that we saved for my treatment. My mom and fiancé also helped to pay for treatment as well as Nyaradzo Funeral Services. I’m so grateful for all their financial support. It will take a while for me to recover financially,” he explains.
The urologist also offered Lincoln the option of a testicular implant but due to the extra cost of this, Lincoln declined.
Lincoln is considering changing to a medical aid in the future that will cover his follow-ups.
Ensuring his mental well-being
Lincoln says there is some embarrassment in telling people where the cancer was but says he made sure to block off any negative comments. “It’s easy to know if someone’s comment is sincere or not and most of the time I would laugh it off. But if it was someone who was a bit more sensitive, they wouldn’t have taken it well.”
He has the same opinion of how the first urologist broke the news, “That type of delivery could make a person who doesn’t have the strength to push on to do drastic things and make unwise decisions.”
Thankfully, Lincoln had support from his fiancé, mother and younger brother, and close friends. He adds the more he understood his cancer, the better he could process his diagnosis.
Lincoln’s cheery demeanour got him the nickname of Johnnie Walker as he walked all the time in the chemo room with a smile on his face. “In this time, I met awesome older people with shared experiences. It was great,” he says.
In February, Lincoln completed chemotherapy and is waiting a few weeks before he starts playing soccer with his friends again. “My oncologist said I should ease into any physical activity. But I do miss playing soccer, even though my friends and I play casually, we are definitely competitive.”
Health-wise, Lincoln has made changes. “I have stopped drinking alcohol since my diagnosis and I’m drinking a lot more water and have changed my diet.”
His advice to newly diagnosed cancer patients is that regardless of what type of cancer they have or the stage of cancer, there is always hope.
Photos by LuciaB Photography | Facebook @luciabphoto | Venue: The Parks Lifestyle Estate, Riversands, Johannesburg
MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams
Laurelle is the Editor at Word for Word Media and graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She have a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Write me: email@example.com