Steyning twins beat cancer and tell the tale

Steyning twins cancer battle 2
Steyning twins cancer battle 2

Twins in Steyning who were both diagnosed with testicular cancer have spoken out about their experiences.

Brothers Robert and Stephen Mattinson have been successfully treated for testicular cancer after being diagnosed just four years apart.

Stephen, who was diagnosed with seminoma, said: “It’s very disturbing to be told you have cancer. When Robert was diagnosed, it came out of the blue and he was married with a young family.

“When I was diagnosed, I had already seen Robert successfully treated. I’m a single man who never planned to have a family so the question of my ability to father children after cancer treatment was not an issue. It didn’t seem such a big deal for me. I had seen him get through it so I just planned to do the same.”

Robert underwent surgery and chemotherapy while Stephen needed surgery and radiotherapy. Both men have been well since.

Robert developed a painful lump that was a sure sign something was wrong.

Stephen’s symptoms developed more slowly.

He explained: “I became aware of a swelling and a tenderness in one of my testicles, together with a dull ache.”

After a few weeks, he saw his GP and was referred immediately to hospital.

Like Robert, Stephen recovered fully after surgery and, in his case, radiotherapy.

The brothers are familiar faces in Steyning and the fact that they have both had cancer is well known.

Stephen now works in a predominantly male environment for Royal Mail. His delivery office is based in Hassocks and his round is in Hurstpierpoint.

He said: “I can’t remember how the issue came up but I have never been afraid to discuss my cancer with work mates. Several have asked me what symptoms first alerted me to the problem. I hope that they now see a happy, healthy and cheerful colleague reassures them that it is perfectly possible to get over it and get on with normal life.”

The experience of cancer had a life-changing effect on both men. Robert, a father to three boys, worked in the City in Financial Futures but gave that up to do what he really loved – farming.

Stephen was a diplomat, a former Department for International Development employee, who had postings in Africa and Ukraine, co-ordinating aid programmes.

Since then he has had a variety of jobs but now works as a postman.

He said: “When you’ve had cancer, your priorities change. You discover what’s important in life for you. I don’t know if stress is related to cancer but in both our cases, the cancer coincided with times of high stress. In my uninformed view, I wonder whether cancer can lay latent in you and then stress can spark it off?”

The twins are biologically identical, and similar-looking enough to confuse people. They turned 58 on Christmas Eve.

Stephen said: “As twins we have a special closeness. For us, cancer is now a thing of the past – got it, got it treated, got over it – but I am sure we now both value even more the great relationship we have.

“It’s thanks to research that we are still here. Success stories like ours wouldn’t be possible without the work of Cancer Research UK.

“So we want to encourage people to get behind the charity’s latest fundraising drive and help save many more lives.”