February 22, 2001
Hi, I'm Jake, a 28 year old guy from New Brunswick, Canada... and this is my TC story.
It all began back on May 13th, 2000. It was my graduation day for my Bachelor in Business at U of M here in Moncton. It was a great day, beautiful sunny skies, just what you'd expect. That night, after graduation, my parents threw a little party for my Fiancé Caroline and I. It seemed like the best night ever; a new beginning to life with new challenges and open roads up ahead. Boy was I in for a surprise.
The next morning, I woke up and at first felt fine, but seemed to have a little nagging pain in the pit of my stomach. It felt like somebody had hit me in the groin and the pain just shot up to my stomach. At first I figured it was nothing much, however, around dinner time the pain was constant and, to my full and shocking surprise, I almost fainted when I reached down to feel my left testicle. It was twice the size of the other one and hard as a rock! Cold sweats, nausea, U name it!!!
We rushed to the hospital clinic where, of course, a young female doctor was on call. Was I shy of showing her my testicle you ask? Not for a moment... the pain and freakiness was that bad. After looking at it thoroughly, she said that it was simply a urinary tract infection and prescribed some antibiotics to treat the inflammation. I took the pills, my swelling and pain went down, and everything back to normal right... wrong!
A few weeks after this whole episode, I noticed a little hard lump on the same testicle. At first I thought to myself that it was just an after effect of my epididymitis, and that it would go away. Wrong again, it hung around. So after a month or so, I decided to go see my reliable family doctor and have this checked out. My doctor was very reassuring, stating that he's been practicing medicine for over 26 years and had only seen 3 cases of TC, and what I had was NOT a tumor. However, he wasn't sure what it was so he decided to send me to a Urologist for safe measure.
Mid July, I'm in the Urologists office, he's feeling my lump and doesn't know what to say. It could be a tumor, or it could be nothing, or it could be tissue, etc... So, off for an Ultrasound I go. The doctor doing the Ultrasound says to me that he normally can say yes, it's a tumor, or no it's something else... Here, he says, I'm not sure... As you can well imagine, I'm starting to get creeped out with all these I'm not sure's!! Finally, I didn't care about the damn testicle anymore. I just wanted it yanked out to be on the safe side. My Urologist agreed it was the best thing to do, saying that if it was nothing, hey go back to normal, and if it is something, we'll deal with it then.
Surgery went fine. My Doctor told me that it was indeed a tumor and that he sent it to be analyzed. 3 weeks gone bye before I finally get my results, and not the one I wanted. Cancer, classic seminoma. My urologist explained to me that we were lucky because it seemed to be restrained within the testicle, therefore a stage I. He said that now I had a few choices, either observation or do some radiation. He told me that radiation would increase dramatically my odds of curing it for good. [Editor's note: This is not true. Radiation reduces the odds of it coming back, but does not actually improve the odds of it being cured.] So I decided to have the radiation. He referred me to a Radiation Oncologist here in Moncton. Before that, however, he sent me for another CT scan. This was a normal procedure and he reassured me that we would most probably not find anything else. Wrong again! A small mass in my abdomen was found. The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes with the largest node just over 3cm.
Three weeks after my last CT scan, I had just gotten my markings done and had another CT scan to make sure my markings were accurate. That afternoon, after my scan, I headed out of town for meetings till the weekend. I got home on Saturday and had a message on my machine. It was my radiation oncologist saying that there was a change of plans, and that I would need chemo instead of radiation. You see, my biggest node of 3 cm had tripled in size in less than 3 weeks. Now, instead of being a stage I, I was a stage IIC. So that following Monday, I went to the hospital for a battery of tests, and started on my 1st cycle of chemo. It was now Dec 12th, 2000.
My first 2 cycles were a breeze. Funny to say, you'd think that I would say it was a horror story, but not at all, I had a little problem with a pill they were giving me for nausea, but other than that, no side effects at all except for the losing my hair. But I took care of that on my own by shaving my head before it happened, little by little.
During my 2nd cycle, they started me on Neupogen to help my White blood count stay up. One injection every day between treatments. During my 3rd cycle, I went for another CT scan to see if the chemo was working. I had my scan on Wednesday, and only got my results on the following Tuesday. What a weekend I spent wondering and waiting for those damn results battling depression, thinking to myself that if it was taking this long it couldn't be good news. Finally Tuesday I got the news I needed, my biggest node was down to a measly 1.2 cm. The chemo was working great, and this after only 2 cycles because my 3rd had not yet begun its affect. My Oncologist decided to give me a 4th cycle, which I am currently having this week. My treatments are done on Friday Feb 23rd, 2000. I still haven't gotten sick or lost my appetite. I've actually gained almost 20 lbs since starting my chemo. I'm bald as an eagle, but don't care as long as I beat this thing. I'm scheduled for another CT scan on March 22nd, with a doctor's appointment on the 27th.
I know it won't be easy to get back to normal. I just finished reading Lance's book, which helped me greatly, and of course the TCRC web site has been with me all the way. The web site is what kept my head straight, and was great for my morale. One last thing, I really appreciate the support I got from my family and friends. It showed me just how much they really cared. I am especially grateful for my loving fiancé Caroline, who stuck with me threw thick and thin...
From the bottom of my heart, Thank you...