A teenager died of cancer after waiting eight months to pluck up the courage to tell his big brother about a lump on his testicle.
Mikey Rushby, 16, the youngest of six brothers and sisters, was having a drink with older brother John, 22, at the family home in Grangetown, Teesside, on April 17 when he finally spoke up.
"He said he had a problem and showed me one of his testicles," said John.
"The lump was obvious so I took him straight to A&E. The doctor said just by looking at it there was an 80 per cent chance it was cancer."
Mikey went home for the night and went back to Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital the next day for tests.
Testicular cancer was diagnosed and it was also found the cancer had spread to his abdomen and chest. He was then transferred to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary for treatment.
Despite the eight-month delay in diagnosis, Mikey was still given a 75 per cent chance of beating the disease. He had a week of chemotherapy and was allowed to go home on Friday, April 26 at his own request.
He was due back at the hospital on Monday April 29 and had got up, had a bath, and was heading down the stairs when he lost his strength and collapsed four steps from the bottom.
He was taken by ambulance to James Cook hospital, where he died later that day, it is believed from an infection.
Now Mikey's heartbroken family have urged young men to check themselves. His mother Patricia, 52, said: "He was my baby. I loved him to pieces. I want other young people to know what we have gone through. I wouldn't want any family to go through what we have.
"I want to say to anyone who ever thinks they might have a problem, go to your mam, go to your dad, go to someone. Mikey could have come to his mum - I wouldn't have been embarrassed."
Mikey is survived by his father Michael Rushby, 61, his sisters Lisa, 30, Jacqueline, 27, Michelle, 26, and Leanne, 21, and his six nieces and nephews.
His brother John said: "He will never be replaced. He wasn't just a brother, he was a mate as well.
A best mate."
An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned at Teesside Coroner's Court.
• Testicular cancer is most common in men aged 15-44 and affects around 2,000 each year in the UK. For more information: http://www.orchid-cancer.org.uk/
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more