City waiter stays positive in cancer battle

Glasgow waiter Jehad Hatu says it may be hard to believe, but when he found out he had stage three testicular cancer his first feeling was one of relief....

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Jehad Hatu has lost weight and his hair due to chemo treatment
Jehad Hatu has lost weight and his hair due to chemo treatment

Relief that he, at last, knew what was wrong with him.

Despite being told he may never recover, the 24-year-old said it was what he wanted to hear ... because he was able finally to begin to fight the disease.

Jehad, who lives in the South Side with his sister Jenine, 29, was given the grim news after suffering for months from severe back ache and weight loss.

Now, four months later, he has just had his last bout of chemotherapy to fight the cancer, which has spread to his lymph nodes, his liver, his intestines and his lungs.

Jehad spoke to the Evening Times in a bid to raise awareness of cancers in his role as a volunteer with CLIC Sargent, the charity for young cancer sufferers.

And today he is urging men to get any symptoms checked as quickly as possible

Jehad said: "When I first heard the news it was a shock, but at the same time I was simply relieved to find out that there was something wrong with me, because I was going on for about four months without any answers.

"I had a lot of back pain, my appetite had decreased and I'm a guy that loves his food.

"Once I dropped the weight I realised it wasn't right.

Jehad, said he knew he was going to get better... "regardless of what the doctors told me".

He had begun to feel aches in his lower back at the beginning of April but put it down to his busy job at the Butchershop Bar and Grill, in Sauchiehall Street, where he has worked since August last year.

When the pain refused to subside he went to his GP, who advised him to take anti-inflammatory drugs.

The pills didn't help, and soon Jehad was being treated by a chiropractor.

Again, he saw no results and went back to the doctor.

"By this time I'd lost over two stone and knew something was wrong," said Jehad.

"One of my testicles also felt large and dense, so I got blood tests done."

Jehad was given an ultrasound on his stomach and lower back before being referred to a neurologist for a CT scan.

He said: "The meeting was straightforward.

"He knew I had cancer, so he sent me over to the Beatson Cancer Centre straight away.

"He told me: 'You have testicular cancer', but it had spread quite significantly.

"They had thought it was stage two at first but it turned out it was the worst stage."

However, Jehad felt a weight had lifted from his shoulders as soon as he set foot in the Beatson Centre, in Great Western Road to undergo treatment.

He said: "The second I walked in it was this really bright atmosphere.

"The nurses are maternal and everyone was really positive.

"I felt more relaxed."

Jehad did feel down at times – one of the things he found hard to deal with was losing his beard, which he had had all his adult life.

He said: "The first thing that runs through your head is: 'Am I going to die?'

"Even though you really want to feel upbeat and positive there's just no way around it. It's just a storm of things going through your mind.

"How long is it going to be until my hair falls out? I knew I had to get used to not having a beard.

"What is going to be the effects of chemotherapy on my body?"

The waiter, who is part Scottish and part Palestinian, grew up in Chicago but has lived in Glasgow for the last 14 months after moving here to be closer to his mum Alison, from Greenock, and Jenine.

He said: "My family are worried about what the survival rate is but I'm just focusing on fighting the cancer."

Jehad has support from CLIC Sargent and a Macmillan nurse who both help to answer the big questions.

He describes his sister as his "rock".

Fighting back tears, Jehad said: "Jenine is the one who talks to me when I'm feeling down, she comes to every appointment.

"She always sets time aside for me."

Jehad is now waiting for surgery to remove his testicle and is working with Clic Sargent to help young people deal with a cancer diagnosis.

He said: "Getting the awareness out is the most important thing.

"Men always try to put up a front and act like they are invincible.

"But any time you have questions about your health, go and see a doctor immediately – and if they don't think there's anything wrong with you be sure to get a second opinion."

rachel.loxton@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

Butchershop Bar and Grill staff are supporting their colleague Jehad by growing moustaches for the Movember charity, which raises funds and awareness for men's health.

As revealed in the Evening Times last Friday, staff are urging all males in Glasgow to join their team and grow a moustache, while women can wear fake ones.

The eatery is also serving a special Movember-themed pre-theatre menu this month, with £1 from each cover going to CLIC Sargent, alongside the Movember charities

Their month-long fundraising drive will finish with a party on November 28, with all money going to charity.

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