I am a 44 year old male as of August 2000. When I was 21 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. At that time, of course, there was no forum like this to talk to other people about their experience with the disease. I remember when I was in the hospital in Bethesda, a man visited me who had been treated a year before. Besides him, I have never talked to anyone with TC. I thought I would share my experience, and I welcome anyone currently faced with this disease to contact me for any information they may find helpful.
My symptoms appeared as a swollen testicle that grew in size over the summer from a walnut size to a lemon size. It was not painful except for some groin pain from the weight. I remember having a strange ejaculate, textured like tapioca, prior to the swelling. I personally think my testicle was traumatized by an injury the year before...but that is my personal speculation. I did have an undescended testicle at birth (and never knew it).
I finally got up the nerve to see a doctor. I went to a public health clinic, thinking I had some venereal disease. When I pulled down my pants, the doctor seemed alarmed, and went to consult someone else, who in turn referred me to a urologist that day. I went and the diagnosis was testicular cancer. It wasn't until that afternoon that I told my mother there was anything wrong.
At the time, the National Institutes of Health was studying the disease, and I went there for treatment. It was frightening to be an otherwise healthy 21 year old male in a hospital treating people much older and seemingly far worse off than I was. I learned to be thankful that I wasn't as bad off as others I saw. It was really true that there is someone always far worse off than you.
My right testicle was removed, and I recovered quickly with little pain. The next week or so I had every test imaginable. There was no spread detected. The doctors then told me they wanted to do the abdominal exploration surgery to check lymph nodes. That surgery was really intense, more so than I think I understood. Prior to the surgery a doctor came to explain to me that there was a chance I may be sterile afterwards. He was very uneasy telling me that. All along, I thought whatever they did beat the possible alternative of death. They had me ejaculate in a container to freeze the sperm. In retrospect, I wish I had done more of that in order to save more sperm. I have no children today and have never been married.
After recovering from that surgery, when I ejaculated there was no sperm. I never told anyone about that. At first I thought it would come back after a while, and eventually resigning myself to knowing I would shoot blanks forever. That was tough to deal with in such a private way. Neither of these surgeries affected my sex drive or ability to perform. I have had a number of sexual relationships in my life with women who actually never knew I didn't ejaculate. Seems weird, but true.
My prognosis was excellent, I went back for tests for several years, and haven't had to go back since. I don't have any sense of self-consciousness in a public gym shower about having one testicle... it really isn't that visible. Looking back, I think I suffered from mild depression, and from fear of a recurrence for a number of years. I didn't work that hard, didn't have strong goals, except to avoid a lot of stress and enjoy myself. I wish now that I had gotten some counseling to help me through the depression.
Please feel free to contact me if there is anything else you would like to know about my experience with this disease.