An army warrant officer said he lost half of his penis and believes doctors misdiagnosed a mysterious ailment on his genitals, which was actually cancer.
Now, the British solider has been told he has just a year to live.
Gavin Brooks claims that doctors, who believed that he had a genital wart, left him with what he calls a “Frankenweiner” after it was mutilated in surgery.
The 45-year-old said he visited army doctors three times in 2021 when he developed a “tight ring of skin” and a lesion on his penis.
“The best way I can describe it like a ring of tissue or hard skin within the foreskin,” Brooks explained to Southwest News Service. “When I’d retract the foreskin, I would have to pull it over the head of the penis.”
The Cheshire resident said he immediately “knew this wasn’t normal” and “had to get it checked out.”
“The skin that connects the foreskin to the penis broke and would bleed and cause pain when I would go for a wee,” he added.
After three weeks of being in pain, Brooks went to army doctors who suggested that it might be lichen sclerosus, a disease that causes patchy, discolored and thin skin.
“The army doctors thought it was a wart but I didn’t know how I’d got one as I’d been married for 20 years and only had one sexual partner in that time, so I didn’t think they were right, said Brooks.
Four weeks later, the vet returned to the medical center where the same doctor reportedly insisted it was just a wart. Another doctor at the army hospital thought it was “thrush,” commonly called a yeast infection, according to Brooks, and gave him cream for treatment.
Finally, he went to a sexual health clinic where a dermatologist did a biopsy of his penis.
After the results came back, Brooks found out he had penile cancer.
Last January, Brooks underwent surgery in an attempt to cure cancer — which resulted in half of his penis being cut off.
“They lifted my penis up and cut it in half and took a skin graft from my leg to make a penis head, but it is flat with a hole in,” he said.
“I’ve nicknamed it the ‘Frankenweiner’. When I woke up in hospital I was so scared at how much of my penis looked to have been removed as it had a dressing on it and a catheter fitted you couldn’t make out the full extent until all of that was removed.”
However, his cancer had already spread, forcing further treatment.
Brooks’ first round of chemotherapy didn’t work and his cancer spread more, so he will soon undergo a second chemotherapy treatment with radiotherapy included.
Now, cancer has diminished his ability to walk or travel since he’s in a wheelchair.
“I can’t walk long distances and I now use a wheelchair more than I walk,” he said. “I’ve spent 24 years in the army and a great amount of that time as a fitness training instructor and I use exercise to get rid of stress, now I have to be sat in a wheelchair to watch my little boy play football.”
Brooks has now started a campaign to raise funds for an experimental treatment abroad.
“I hope I can get some sort of treatment abroad that can help make the cancer smaller and make my lifespan longer so I can stay around as long as possible,” he said. “My son Jorje says he’s going to lift the World Cup one day and I want to be around for that.”
The army vet is also urging others to check their genitals regularly for signs of cancer in the hopes of saving others’ lives.
“If I had been diagnosed earlier, I may have only ended up requiring a circumcision that could have prevented the rest of the operations and chemotherapy,” said Brooks. “That’s why I need to raise as much awareness for this rare and unknown cancer, so more time and research can be spent into the treatment and diagnosis of this deadly disease before it’s too late.”
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