Richard Stamp is a stark reminder to men across the country why they need to keep on top of their tackle.
He suffered months of pain but, like many men, he put off seeking medical attention and buried his head in the sand, believing “everything would be all right in the end”.
But that decision cost him dearly as he ended up losing his penis after being diagnosed with cancer in 2018. His relationship also suffered and he lost his girlfriend.
Doctors had to amputate most of the 54-year-old’s organ to save his life.
Now Richard, who works in the entertainment industry, has let cameras into his home as he embarks on a year-long quest to discover ways he can rebuild it, from stem cell growth to reconstruction.
In the Channel 5 documentary Shopping For A New Penis, the cameras capture the heartbreaking moment he discusses his struggles with his ex-partner, Angie.
Richard, who has a son and daughter from a previous relationship, says: “Angie and I were together for two years before my cancer was discovered.”
He admits he was avoiding sex before his diagnosis as it caused him pain.
“It built up over time,” he said. “Why I wasn’t having penetration was because it really hurt, so I started feeling more vulnerable. Then I just didn’t want to do that at all.”
During a holiday in Cambodia, Richard felt a lump on his penis, but even then he waited two months to go to the doctor.
He was finally diagnosed in Australia, where he was working at the time.
The medic, Dr Cox, told him he was going to have to have his entire penis amputated.
“I met this frightening doctor who, very starkly, said: ‘Your c**k’s going to come off,’” explains Richard, who is from Tooting, South London.
“He showed me a model of a c**k, like I was some sort of a farm animal.
“It was so cold. All that went through my mind was panic.
“Everything was spinning around – that’s the worst moment of my lifetime.”
Richard flew home for a second opinion and soon discovered that his local hospital, St George’s in Tooting, is Europe’s leading medical institute dealing with penile cancer.
There, his surgeon, Dr Ben Ayres, confirmed amputation was necessary, but he was able to save a tiny portion of his penis.
Richard says: “I remember before the operation, thinking, ‘I’m going to run away.’
“Then the realisation is where am I going to run to? If I don’t do this, I’m going to die.
“Maybe it sounds crazy if you’re not a bloke, but living without a penis makes you question who you are.
“I was just a normal bloke before all this happened – an Arsenal supporter, a father of two who enjoyed a beer with his mates.
“Then one day I was told by a doctor that my penis had to be removed.
“Since then I’ve been trying to work out how I survive without a c**k.
“How I live, work, have sex and go to the toilet, how to be a bloke without having a penis.
“I’m really angry I let it get that far. I feel a complete fool. I could kick myself because I could have saved it.”
One of the main questions Richard is often asked is whether he can still have sex, and he wasted no time finding out.
But he admits that being intimate has been a new challenge.
He says: “I was grateful I could still orgasm, but then I had to work out how to do that with a partner, how to share my new body with someone.
“But some women don’t mind.”
Richard is now on a mission to return his manhood to its former glory.
He says: “I’ve been on a journey to see what the world has to offer, plastic ones, prosthetic ones, even ones grown in laboratories.”
He concludes: “I’m going to go for reconstruction. The process is due to start in February.”
Richard has met his new surgeon, Prof David Ralph from University College Hospital in London.
The reconstruction requires three 13-hour surgeries.
Doctors will remove flesh from his arm and bottom to form his new penis, an implant will be placed inside and then a pump will be installed in his scrotum to give him an erection at the touch of a button.
He smiles: “It’s weird. I want it to feel like me, not an object. I’m a bit scared, it’s like something off Doctor Who from the 70s.
“I’m going through the mental thought process of building myself up to do this. Ever since my first operation, I’ve been taking things weeks at a time, that’s all I can do.”
The documentary is a warts-and-all look at what happens when you don’t listen to your body. Richard is now a speaker for the men’s cancer charity, Orchid, and he hopes that people will learn from his costly mistake.
He says: “It’s sort of inbred in men, isn’t it, to be tough? Not talk about stuff, just get on with it. Toughen up, be a man.
“It’s such a taboo thing to talk about and to experience, and when I found I had penile cancer, I had no idea it even existed.
“So the message to every man watching this documentary is if there’s something up, get it checked. If you’ve got a girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever, hopefully you’ll be able to talk to them.
“If you’re on your own, then talk to a friend. The main thing is you must talk to someone. Don’t stick your head in the sand like I did.”
- Shopping For A New Penis is on Channel 5 on Thursday at 10pm.
Signs and symptoms of cancer of the penis
Cancer of the penis affects around 630 men every year in the UK
If caught early, around 70% of those diagnosed with it will survive.
It mostly affects men in their 60s.
- Lumps, changes in colour,
- irregular marks or lesions,
- and unexplained pain.