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Call handler shares story of birthday cancer diagnosis in the hope his story will help to save lives

A London Ambulance Service call handler has opened up about his devastating cancer diagnosis for Movember in the hope his story will help to save lives.

Kieran stands with an ambulance car and ambulance behind him
London Ambulance Service 999 Call Handler, Kieran Mulligan.

Doctors told Kieran Mulligan he had testicular cancer on his 21st birthday.

Kieran, who’s now 23, said: “I should have been celebrating, going out.

Instead I was thinking about how long I had left to live.”

Kieran had found a lump on one of his testicles and felt some numbness in his body. He admits he felt embarrassed and did not want to go to a doctor.

He said: “I didn’t want to tell anyone, I just wanted it to go away.”

Fortunately, Kieran confided in a friend who insisted he made an appointment. His GP referred him for a scan immediately.

The scan revealed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes around his chest and abdomen.

Kieran had just started a new job answering 999 calls for London Ambulance Service and was only just coming to the end of his training when he was told he needed urgent treatment.

He said: “I still came into work on the day I was diagnosed and was determined to keep working throughout my treatment.

“I was in hospital four nights a week for four months and I was able to reduce my hours so I could keep working.

“I felt sick all the time and lost four stones but work was actually the distraction I needed to help me get through it.

“Also because I was a patient myself, it only gave me more compassion and understanding for our patients.”

Kieran smiling with an ambulance car in the background
London Ambulance Service 999 Call Handler, Kieran Mulligan.

A year after finishing chemotherapy, a check-up revealed Kieran still had cancerous lymph nodes in his abdomen which meant he needed an operation. Recovery took another month.

Kieran said: “That was one of my lowest points. I felt like it should all be over by now and I started to feel depressed. I have had some dark thoughts but it has just made me more determined to share my story.

“I am not embarrassed to talk about this – I want to keep the conversation going in the hope it might encourage others to get help if they need it.”

‘Movember’ is an annual event taking place each November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s mental health. Find out more on the Movember Foundation website.

Testicular cancer is one of the less common cancers, and tends to mostly affect men between 15 and 49 years of age.

Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicles.

Find out more on the NHS website here.

The charity Macmillan Cancer Support have lots of useful resources for support and additional helpful information. Click here for more.