September 30, 2000
It was August of 1995, I was 22 years old and in the best shape of my life. I had just completed Marine Corps boot camp and was in school learning my job as an Artillery Fire Direction Controlman at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. During boot camp I had noticed some pain and swelling in my left testicle but refused to give up my training because I just wanted out of that place. But now I was somewhere more comfortable, just an hour and a half from home in Edmond, so I went to the doctor to find out what was wrong.
It was about 3 days later when I was pulled out of class and told the doctor wanted to see me. I was told that my blood work came back positive for tumor markers and chances were that it was cancer. I was scheduled for surgery the next day. The left radical orchiectomy revealed that it was a mixed germ cell tumor with embryonal cell, teratoma, and seminoma. I was then sent home waiting the results of a CT scan and letting my scar heal.
A week later, when I returned to have the stitches removed, I was told there were some questionable lymph nodes and they were going to send me to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas for either chemotherapy or surgery.
During my stay at BAMC I went through several tests for pre-chemotherapy as well as counseling by doctors on my option of a lymph node dissection. I chose to have the surgery and was told that more than likely it would ruin my chances of ever having a child and was referred to a private practice OB/GYN so that I could donate and store my own sperm for future use. On September 28th 1995 I had the retroperitoneal lymph node dissection which turns out is a very painful experience.
After 5 days of not eating or drinking anything and having tubes coming out my nose, I finally passed gas showing that my bowels were again up and running and I could now eat. I was never so happy to eat the horrible hospital food!
After 3 months of leave I was allowed to return to active duty and finish my training. After completion of my training I was sent to my first duty station in Okinawa, Japan. I was there for 6 months when I had a follow up CT scan. This time I was at work when I received the phone call and the doctor told me that they found a tumor in my lower intestine and I was flying back to BAMC the next day for treatment. I almost fell out of my chair I THOUGHT I WAS CURED!
Upon arriving in San Antonio my parents arrived within the next hour. Since it was the 4th of July they gave me a couple days to relax before the whole test regimen started again.
The first test was going to be a needle placed through my belly with the aid of the CT machine to do a biopsy of the tumor. After running through the CT twice the doctor asked if I had my old CTs from Okinawa. I did so an orderly was sent for them and the doctor reviewed them and compared them with the new ones. After a few minutes he came out from behind the screen and proudly announced "Congratulations...you had gas!"
Every since I have been totally free from cancer. I hope that everyone that has ever or will face this trauma is as lucky as I was and am.
Former Corporal USMC
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