'Testicle tour' has a serious message

AN ESSEX man who had a testicle removed is to set out on a UK tour with a difference - all of the places he visits must have names pertaining to the male genital area.

AN ESSEX man who had a testicle removed is to set out on a UK tour with a difference - all of the places he visits must have names pertaining to the male genital area.

But Darren Couchman, a former banking official from Little Clacton, is not simply being puerile by visiting towns and villages such as Nutwell, Bell End, Balderstone and Willey - instead, he says, he has a serious message to impart.

Father of three Mr Couchman, 35, is launching his two-week “Testicle Tour” later this month in order to raise awareness of testicular cancer, which he believes is still shrouded in too much taboo and embarrassment.

By approaching the subject with humour, he hopes to encourage more men to check themselves for the disease before it is diagnosed too late.

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On his first day of travelling - in Mercedes covered in full testicular cancer branding - the recovered cancer victim will be visiting Suffolk and stopping off in Cockfield, Dickleburgh and Ballingdon.

Mr Couchman had an orchidectomy - an operation to remove a testicle - after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer seven years ago.

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“My parents had both died of cancer when I was 19, so I was always careful to check for signs,” he said yesterday.

“I checked myself in the bath and found a lump. At first, like many men, I convinced myself it was because of a knock or something, but to be honest the real reason was that I didn't fancy going to the doctor and getting my package out, because I thought they would laugh at me.

“It took about eight weeks to pluck up the courage.”

Mr Couchman said when he was eventually diagnosed he found the best way to deal with it was humour.

“I think it was the easiest way for my mates to deal with it as well - lots of joke about Hitler only having one ball etc. It became a laugh.

“And then recently, I had the idea of doing this tour to raise awareness in a light-hearted way that I hope other men will respond to.”

He said that he scoured maps of the country to find places with appropriate names. The farthest-flung location he is to visit is Percy Main, in Newcastle, but due to a lack of genital-related names in his home county of Essex, the only place he will visit in that county is Cock's Clarke, near Chelmsford.

Although Mr Couchman added he believed awareness of testicular cancer had increased in recent years, he said it was not as high profile as other forms of the disease, such as breast cancer.

Mr Couchman said: “These two weeks are going to be a real laugh but I'm hoping to get a serious message across as well. Men need to check themselves for testicular cancer because it can be life-threatening if it's not spotted early enough.”

He has also written a book on the subject - called One Lump Or Two? - which is due to be published next Tuesday.

Around 2000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer in the UK. It accounts for one to two percent of all cancers in men, most likely to occur in young and middle-aged victims.

Most men with testicular cancer can be cured but it is important to identify the disease early enough.

· Anyone who wants to sponsor Mr Couchman can do so online by visiting www.justgiving.com/thetesticletour . Copies of One Lump or Two can be bought online at www.onelumportwo.org.uk or from the Studio Bookshop in Clacton.

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