An army warrant officer says he lost half of his penis and believes doctors misdiagnosed a mysterious disease on his genitals, which was actually cancer.
Now the British soldier has learned that he has only one year to live.
Gavin Brooks claims doctors, who believed he had a genital wart, left him with what he calls a “Frankenweiner” after he was mutilated in surgery.
The 45-year-old said he saw army medics three times in 2021 when he developed a “tight skin ring” and lesion on his penis.
“Best way I can describe it as a ring of tissue or hard skin in the foreskin,” Brooks told Southwest News Service. “When I retracted the foreskin, I had to pull it over the head of the penis.”
The Cheshire resident said he ‘knew immediately it wasn’t normal’ and ‘had to have it checked’.
“The skin that connects the foreskin to the penis broke and was bleeding and causing pain when I went to pee,” he added.
After three weeks of pain, Brooks went to see army doctors who suggested it might be lichen sclerosus, a condition that causes patchy, discolored and thin skin.
“The army doctors thought it was a wart but I didn’t know how I got one because I had been married for 20 years and only had one sexual partner at that time, so I didn’t think they were right,” Brooks said.
Four weeks later the vet returned to the medical center where the same doctor allegedly insisted it was just a wart. According to Brooks, another doctor at the military hospital thought it was “thrush”, commonly known as a yeast infection, and gave him some cream for treatment.
Eventually he went to a sexual health clinic where a dermatologist took a biopsy of his penis.
Once the results came back, Brooks discovered he had penile cancer.
Last January, Brooks underwent surgery in an attempt to cure the cancer, which resulted in half of his penis being severed.
“They lifted my penis and cut it in half and took a skin graft from my leg to make a penis head, but it’s flat with a hole,” he said.
“I nicknamed him the ‘Frankenweiner’. When I woke up in the hospital I was so scared how much of my penis looked like it had been removed because there was a bandage on it and a catheter installed you couldn’t make out the full extent of it until to have all of that removed.
However, her cancer had already spread, forcing further treatment.
Brooks’ first round of chemotherapy didn’t work and his cancer has spread further, so he will soon be undergoing a second course of chemotherapy with radiation therapy included.
Now the cancer has diminished his ability to walk or travel since being in a wheelchair.
“I can’t walk long distances and I now use a wheelchair more than I walk,” he said. “I spent 24 years in the military and a lot of that time as a fitness instructor and I use exercise to get rid of stress, now I have to sit in a wheelchair to watch my little boy playing football.”
Brooks has now launched a campaign to raise money for experimental treatment overseas.
“I hope I can get some kind of treatment abroad that can help reduce the cancer and extend my life so that I can stay 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 there for that.”
The Army vet is also urging others to regularly check their genitals for signs of cancer in hopes of saving other people’s lives.
“If I had been diagnosed earlier, maybe I would have only had to undergo a circumcision which could have prevented the rest of the operations and chemotherapy,” Brooks said. “That’s why I need to raise awareness about this rare and unknown cancer as widely as possible, so that more time and research can be devoted to treating and diagnosing this deadly disease before it’s too late.”
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