Inspirational Alastair beats testicular cancer and is back to “cheeky self” again

An inspiring young man with Down’s Syndrome who has already endured multiple heart operations is back to living life to the full after beating testicular cancer.

Alastair Howells (26) is now in the clear, after receiving a specialist procedure to remove the lymph nodes from his abdomen after fears the cancer had spread from his testes.

And it was a chance encounter while bathing that led to the life-saving-treatment for the Livingston man.

His family said Alastair takes everything in his stride and continues to inspire them on a daily basis following his specialist surgery delivered by the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.

They explained it was a lucky find which led to his testicular cancer diagnosis – with the family initially concerned he had a testicular torsion which was spotted while Alastair was bathing last summer.

Following a referral from the team at St John’s Hospital in Livingston to the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and quickly put on a program of chemotherapy. However, even after four rounds of treatment there were signs that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes so he was sent to the QEUH in Glasgow for a specialist procedure called Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND).

The procedure is delivered nationally from the QEUH and seeks to remove any remnants of the cancer which might remain in testicular cancer patients and has a high national cure rate in Scotland.

For Alastair, the procedure has given him his life back, and his father Mark fears that they had not spotted the issue on time, he might not be here today.

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Mark said: “I can’t overstate the devastation which would have been caused to our family had Alastair not got the care he needed at that point in time.

“Words cannot express the level of gratitude we owe to the teams across Livingston, Edinburgh and Glasgow which, combined, have delivered an absolutely platinum service which has enabled Alastair to be with us today.

“We will not forget their kindness until the day we die.

“Alastair is back to his cheerful, mischievous and loving self – full of energy and a continual inspiration for the rest of the family.”

Back home in Livingston, Alastair lives with parents Mark and Gillian and is the oldest sibling to sisters Fiona (24) and

Allison (22). Since coming home from hospital, he’s been able to get back to doing things he loves – arts and crafts, watching Harry Potter movies, Lego and music.

He has also reconnected with his friends through attending his day center twice a week and the Drama and Mime Group and FABB club which are organizations that support young people with disabilities.

Mark added: “Alastair is the center of the family.

“Despite his setbacks, which include two heart bypass operations, having a pacemaker fitted, and more recently catching Covid-19, Alastair continues to astound us with his resilience.

“He takes every single day as another opportunity to enjoy life and even during the most difficult periods of his cancer treatment he put on a brave face. He recovered quickly and he was back dancing away within two months of the surgery.”

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David Hendry, Consultant Surgeon for Urology at the QEUH, said: “RPLND has a high cure rate and it’s a crucial lifeline for patients where initial treatment may not have caught all of the cancer.

“Alastair’s case highlights just how important it is to get unusual lumps or swelling in the testes checked out by a clinician as soon as possible.

“Testicular cancer has a rapid growth rate, with some tumors doubling in size within 10 days.

“It’s therefore absolutely essential
to get on the right treatment as early as possible as this helps improve patient outcomes and cure rates.

“We’re delighted to see Alastair’s progress following treatment and wish him all the best for the future

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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