An RAF serviceman hit in the groin with a rugby ball was diagnosed with testicular cancer after he sought treatment for the injury.
Lance Corporal Shane McMullen, 28, was left in agonising pain after the ball was booted at him during a match with his RAF colleagues in February.
The father-of-two managed to finish the game but the bruising spread across his privates and he was left limping in pain for weeks afterwards.
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McMullen who is from Coventry but based in Cyprus, went to a Mediterranean doctor who discovered a cancerous tumour on his left testicle. He underwent an operation the next day to have it removed and he returned to Britain to recuperate.
But a follow-up scan revealed the cancer had spread to Shane's lymph nodes in his stomach and doctors warned him it was growing. McMullen underwent immediate chemotherapy and radiotherapy and after nine weeks of gruelling 16-hour-a-day treatment the cancer stop spreading.
He has now finished his treatment and he is waiting to have a scan to confirm the cancer is gone and is recovering at Bramcote Army Barracks in Warwickshire, “I feel very lucky - a painful kick in the balls saved my life,” he said.
“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.”
McMullen was in Cyprus with his heavily pregnant wife Stacey, 28, and their two-year-old daughter Olivia when he was diagnosed.
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.
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.”