I first noticed a lump on my right testicle in February 1994. Thinking it to be just a cyst I let it go at that. Then in March of 94 the lump became painful. Knowing nothing about cancer of any sort, I never would have guessed the obvious symptoms of testicular cancer.
By the time a made an appointment with my family doctor, my testicle was so sore just touching made me see stars. He referred me immediately to a urologist. The urologist ordered an emergency Orchiectomy. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. Luckily I already had a wonderful son and marriage so the idea of losing one of my jewels wasn't quite as bad. The doc said it was pretty simple surgery and I should fare very well. I'm still young "34" and in relatively good shape.
The surgery went fine and I was home within 2 hrs. The swelling in my scrotum scared me a bit but the doc said that was normal. All I had to do was wait for the test results from the biopsy. Just a painful cyst was what I was hoping for.
Results came back positive for cancer. Mixed seminoma/nonseminoma cancer.
At first thought I would need an RPLND to see if it had spread to my lymph nodes. I was not prepared for this kind of major surgery. My urologist would do the surgery, and he assured me he was very good at this, having done this to more than 30 young men with testicular cancer. He would cut from underneath the ribcage down to my belt line. How bad could this be I thought.
Well the surgery date was here, and I was a little nervous to say the least. I still wasn't prepared, having never had major surgery besides my "jewel heist". The surgery lasted 9 hrs and the doctor said that he was worn out after the procedure.
I woke up in the ICU. OH MAN! What happened to me I thought. I've never felt more torn up than this in my life. I could hardly move. The nurses kept making me cough right after the surgery. Each time was a new adventure in pain. Sneezing was something I hoped would never happen again.
Well, after 9 days in the Hospital I was released. Still sore as hell I was ready to go home. This was August of 1994. The doc removed 74 lymph nodes. But 3 had been positive for cancer. Very good odds I thought. The doc wanted me to have Chemo. I thought, no way, I've been through enough.
I heard all the bad things about chemo by now. And there's a good chance I wont need it. After a visit to my oncologist he recommended chemo too. Still defiant I went for a 2nd opinion. They told me I could wait. If the cancer did show up then I could get the chemo. That was my big mistake. Hearing what I wanted to hear I went home without another thought of having cancer or ever having cancer.
Denial, I knew nothing of having denial about anything. It just left my thoughts without my realizing it. My first scheduled CT scan came. It was terrible. The contrast made me sick, but if I puked it up I would have to get more. Barium on an empty stomach takes some getting used to. Well test results were negative. Great news. This was in Sept of 94.
Then one day in Oct. I was eating my lunch when I started having minor stomach pains, Kind of like gas building up. 1 hour later I was going to the Hospital doubled over in pain.
At the Hospital the doc on call said it seemed strange and was ready to do an emergency operation on my stomach. Luckily I had to go to the bathroom. When I was done the pain left just like that. I was relieved and sent home.
Well a few more times I had pains, but not as bad. I was sent to a gastroenterologist. Go to the bathroom more often. My bowel movements had changed from everyday to every 2 or 3 days. Tests done on my intestines showed nothing unusual.
Then one day in November, just before Thanksgiving, I was in bad pain again. What the hell is going on I thought. The pain was in my back this time. Over the next few weeks my back pain was there every day and getting worse. So bad, a couple of times I was on the floor moaning and groaning. I went to the emergency room twice. X-rays showed nothing.
Still in pain I went to my family doctor. I has to be an infection he said. Antibiotics but "no pain killers" which I was begging for. The antibiotics made me sick as hell. I went back to him. Pulled muscles he said. No painkillers. Go back home and rest.
My next CT scan showed nothing though I was in considerable pain. Visits to a Chiropractor didn't even begin to help, even though he assured me he can fix my back like new.
Well, 2 months went by and I was still in pain. I had virtually stopped eating. That meant extreme weight loss. Then one day at work I thought "maybe cancer is eating me up". Nah, the CT scans would show something. Then I read some common symptoms of testicular cancer include back pains and weight loss. Hey, I thought to myself, I had testicular cancer.
My next C-T was due in April of 95. By this time I had lost 40 lbs. and was convinced I had a mental problem. Well the C-T's showed what I should have already known. I had 3 large tumors. 2 in my liver and 1 in the muscles of my back. Well it was time for the dreaded Chemo, which by now, I was not so afraid of. I wanted to stop the pain before I killed myself.
I was immediately admitted to the hospital for my first treatments. Cisplatin, VP-16, and bleomycin. After less than a week the pain was gone. I went from 190lbs down to 145lbs in less than 4 months. I was sent home to rest before my next round of chemo. I have never been so tired in my life. Just going to the bathroom was a chore. I had to rest halfway to the bathroom.
The rest of my treatments would be done on an outpatient basis at the cancer center. I was lucky to be getting this poison that was surely burning my insides. I could smell burning every time I urinated. Along with the lousy taste you get from chemo. The treatments stopped in Aug. of 1996.
Tumors had shrunk but were not gone. Not growing, but staying the same size for about a month. It was time for another recommended RPLND. Oh great, not again. My liver was the concern. We had to make sure tumors were dead. If still positive, I was told, they would remove about two-thirds of my liver, leaving me a disabled for life. Now was the time to get scared. I could die from this procedure.
Well I woke up in ICU again, only this time I was smiling. I can remember saying out loud "I'm alive!" After 9 days in the hospital I was sent home. Oh, by the way, all tumors were indeed dead. Best news I ever heard.
As of May 1998 not even a blemish shows up on my CT scans. I would like to say I'm cured. But I know deep inside that it can happen again. I cant worry myself to death about it though. Just play the cards I'm dealt is my new way of thinking. Anyone going through this now I say, listen to your doctors and have faith. Thanks