Saved by a groin strain: RAF serviceman was diagnosed with cancer only when he sought treatment for rugby injuryShane McMullen, 28, was left in agonising pain after the ball was booted at him during a match with his armed forces colleagues in Cyprus in FebruaryFather-of-two is grateful excruciating injury occurred as otherwise the cancer, which spread to his stomach, would likely not have been detected

|

UPDATED:

11:16 GMT, 31 May 2012

An RAF serviceman hit in the groin with a rugby ball was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he sought treatment for the injury.

Shane McMullen, 28, was left in agonising pain after the ball was booted at him during a match with his armed forces colleagues in February.

But the father-of-two is now grateful the excruciating injury occurred as otherwise the cancer, which spread to his stomach, would likely not have been detected.

Game of chance: Lance Corporal Shane McMullen, pictured with his wife Stacey and children Olivia and Charlie, was hit in the groin with a rugby ball and was then diagnosed with testicular cancer when he sought treatment for the injury

Game of chance: Lance Corporal Shane McMullen, pictured with his wife Stacey and children Olivia and Charlie, was hit in the groin with a rugby ball and was then diagnosed with testicular cancer when he sought treatment for the injury

Incredibly, he managed to finish the game after the incident. But the bruising spread and he was left limping in pain for weeks afterwards.

Lance Corporal McMullen, who is from Coventry but was based in Cyprus at the time, went to a Mediterranean doctor who discovered a cancerous tumour on his left testicle.

The next day he underwent an operation to have it removed and he returned to Britain to recuperate.

But a follow-up scan revealed the cancer had spread to Lance Corporal McMullen's lymph nodes in his stomach and doctors warned him it was growing.

He underwent immediate chemotherapy and radiotherapy and after a nine-week course of gruelling 16 hours-a-day treatment the cancer stopped spreading.

He is now waiting to have a scan to confirm the cancer has gone.

Rugby fan: A follow-up scan revealed the cancer had spread to Lance Corporal McMullen's lymph nodes in his stomach and doctors warned him it was growing

Rugby fan: A follow-up scan revealed the cancer had spread to Lance Corporal McMullen's lymph nodes in his stomach and doctors warned him it was growing

The Lance Corporal with his daughter Olivia last November. He underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy and after a nine-week course of gruelling 16 hours-a-day treatment the cancer stopped spreading

The Lance Corporal with his daughter Olivia last November. He underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy and after a nine-week course of gruelling 16 hours-a-day treatment the cancer stopped spreading

Lance Corporal McMullen, who is
recovering at Bramcote Army Barracks in Warwickshire, said: 'I feel very
lucky – a painful kick in the balls saved my life.

'We were playing rugby as normal and someone just kicked the ball at full pelt and I caught it with my balls.

'It wasn't too bad at the time but a couple of weeks after it was still sore so I thought I'd bruised them or something.

'I couldn't believe it when I got the diagnosis but I'm glad I got it checked out.

'If
that ball didn't hit me I wouldn't have known I had cancer. I could
still be walking around today with undiagnosed cancer and God knows how
far it would have spread.

'I'm glad it did hit me because things could have been so much worse for me. It probably saved my life.'

Lance Corporal McMullen was based in
Cyprus with his heavily pregnant wife Stacey, 28, and their two-year-old
daughter Olivia when he was diagnosed.

Survivor: While he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Lance Corporal McMullen missed the birth of his son Charlie who was born just two weeks after he started treatment

Survivor: While he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Lance Corporal McMullen missed the birth of his son Charlie who was born just two weeks after he started treatment

After the operation he returned to Britain for a follow-up scan at University Hospital Coventry where he was given the devastating news that the cancer had spread.

And while he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy he missed the birth of his son Charlie who was born just two weeks after he started treatment.

He added: 'I had the testicle removed and was sent back to Britain for a follow-up scan at a more specialised hospital.

'Stacey wasn't allowed to come back with me because she was heavily pregnant and couldn't fly but I expected to come back after a few days.

'When the doctor told me the cancer had spread I was gutted. I was numb with shock but things moved so fast, the next day I started treatment.

'It was serious stuff, I was devastated at missing the birth of my little boy but I knew I had to have the treatment otherwise he wouldn't have a dad.

'I'm telling all my mates to check themselves for lumps now. I was incredibly lucky but it could easily have gone the other way.'