I looked down and sighed.
"Amanda, can you come up here, please?" I called.
My new girlfriend Amanda and I had only just moved in together.
She was gorgeous and we were both totally smitten. But I'd recently noticed a rash on my penis and it had me worried.
Amanda walked into the bathroom and I pointed to the rash.
"Go to the doctor if you're worried," she said.
So the next day I did just that.
My GP didn't seem too concerned and gave me a steroid cream.
Relieved, I called Amanda.
"I'll help you put the cream on later," she giggled.
Cheeky minx, I thought.
But weeks went by and the rash didn't go away.
"Something isn't right," I said to Amanda.
I made another doctor's appointment.
I was convinced it wasn't going to be anything serious.
It was just annoying.
"I'm going to refer you to the hospital," a doctor said.
Even then I wasn't concerned.
I presumed I just needed to see a specialist.
But this time, the doctor knew what the rash was.
"I'm afraid you've got penile cancer," he said.
I stared at him.
"What?" I cried.
Cancer on my penis? How was that possible?
I walked outside to the hospital car park in a daze and with shaky hands took out my phone.
"I've got cancer," I stuttered to Amanda.
"What? How?" she gasped.
She left work and raced home to see me.
I was sitting on the sofa with my head in my hands.
As soon as she walked through the doors, she flung herself into my arms.
She was crying and it took all my strength not to join her.
"It's penile cancer," I told her. "The rash was because there's a tumour in my penis."
"I didn't even know that was a thing," she sobbed.
"Neither did I," I replied. "But we're going to get through this."
At that, she composed herself.
"Of course we are, my love," she said. "So what's the next step?"
"I've got to go and have a biopsy and then they'll let me know what's happening," I explained.
Then I decided to make light of it. "Whatever happens, it's not looking good for the fella."
We both laughed.
The following week I went for lots of scans and biopsies and was told I'd have to have the head of my penis amputated.
"We'll use the skin from your leg to recreate it," the doctor said.
I tried to take it all on the chin but inside I was hurting.
I'd always prided myself on being a blokey bloke. I was a retired fireman after all!
The thought of losing some of my penis made me feel emasculated.
"You'll always be more than enough man to me," Amanda said as I was wheeled into theatre.
And afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
The surgeons did a fantastic job recreating a penis head out of my leg skin.
I went home to recover and we attempted to carry on with life.
But just three months later, at a routine check-up, bad news came again.
Doctors discovered the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in my groin.
I had to have those removed but it left me open to infection below the waist and my immune system deteriorated.
For the next three years, the cancer appeared to have been held at bay.
But other complications continued.
Every few months, I'd get sepsis and had to fight for my life.
Amanda was the one thing that kept me going.
When my condition stabilised, we finally got married.
"In sickness and in health," Amanda said at the altar.
"I think we've done that one already," I whispered with a smile.
Becoming newlyweds felt like we'd been given a fresh start.
My health was improving and it looked as though the cancer had gone.
But just a month later, the rash was back.
"I can't go through this again," I cried to Amanda.
She gripped my hand and looked me in the eyes.
"You can, Neil," she said firmly. "You got through this once, you can do it again."
At hospital, my suspicions were confirmed.
"The only thing we can do now to get rid of the cancer completely is to amputate the penis fully," a doctor said.
I bit my lip and nodded. What choice did I have? I couldn't help myself and started to sob.
"We'll be okay," Amanda whispered.
Because I was having a full amputation, I wouldn't be able to get a prosthetic penis, as there'd be nothing for it to attach to.
Waiting for the operation my nerves kicked in.
"I'm going to feel like a woman," I said.
"What's wrong with that?" Amanda joked.
"Nothing, obviously," I said. "It's just what defines me as a man."
"No, what defines you is what's in here," Amanda said, putting her hand on my heart.
Three hours later I came out of surgery.
Amanda was there when I came out of the anaesthetic.
"How're you doing?" she asked.
"Well," I said, looking under the bed sheet. "It's gone."
I tried to crack a smile.
The surgeons had removed my entire penis but had left my testicles and a makeshift hole for me to urinate out of.
It took a bit of getting used to but before long it started to feel normal.
The relief of knowing the cancer was gone for good far outweighed the fact I'd lost my penis.
Of course, our sex life changed drastically but Amanda and I were still able to be intimate.
If anything, our relationship is now stronger than ever.
And despite how embarrassing it is to tell the world I've lost my manhood, my main goal now is to raise awareness so no-one else has to go through this.
If you, or your husband,has a rash down there, get it checked. It might just save their life.