Short Stories

M.S.
I can seriously relate to J.D.'s story, and I have never had TC or known anyone who has. How can this be? Because at age 13 I became convinced that there was something wrong with my left testicle. I told some friends of my suspicions and even a male cousin, but not my parents. I lived with my fear for years, thought I could see the "tumor" spread to my right testicle, feel it spread to my rectum, abdomen, lung, even my brain. High scool. College. I began to believe that I may not have TC but perhaps some other kind of growth, like a cyst--otherwise why would I still be alive? At age 25 I finally broke down and told my mother about my "problem." She took me to the urologist--ultrasound, x-ray, etc.--nothing. A clean bill of health.

I know that my experience is not directly relatable to those of TC sufferers, but J.D.'s story is the first story I have ever heard in my life that I myself can relate to directly. I had immense feelings of guilt about keeping my "secret" from my family all throughout my adolescence and young adulthood, in addition to the existential stress of knowing that by doing nothing I might very well be endangering my life. Feeling that I had to hide all of the time seriously restricted my social development as well, in my view,though others would probably have just called me very shy. By college I felt that I was living in "bad faith", and I developed an extremely low and self-punishing opinion of myself. Nor was my "miraculous cure" the end of my psychological trouble. Over a year of psychotherapy helped a little. Today I am a 28-year-old electrical engineer.

I do not expect this story to appear on your roster, but I thought it mighthelp J.D. to know that he is not the only one in the world to ever be too embarrassed to ask for help, even from one's own loving family, even when faced with a potentially life-threatening danger. It is important to remember that adolescence is a very difficult time for all people, but especially for those personality types who tend toward depression or find their feelings of shame so overwhelming that almost any possibility is preferable to exposure. It does not mean that you are a defective person. Iwant everyone who is going through what J.D. is going through to know that.

Thanks for listening, M.S. in Houston, Texas


David

I had a right radical orchiectomy on Friday, September 13, 1991. It wascancer and I was devastated. Lucky for me though it was 99% curable andhad not spread. I was out of work for about 3 weeks recuperating andgoing for radiation treatments. I finally returned to my job as afirefighter/emergency medical technician, fully recovered and ready towork.

Now, I knew that I was gonna get razzed 'cause I was one of those guys who joked constantly and was always taking jabs at anyone who I thoughtdeserved it. Needless to say, I had spared no one in the past. So here Iwas returning to work with one testical knowing I was gonna get hammered(all in good fun of course!).

My shift starts at 7:00 a.m. so I arrived on time and, as usual, we hada cup of coffee and talked about what was planned for the day. Everyonetold me it was great how things had turned out for me and were glad Iwas back to work so soon. Then my lieutenant said to me, "You didn'thave to be to work until 7:30 this morning". A bit confused and knowingfull well I was probably being set up I said to him, " I thought shiftstarted at 7:00". He repied, "Well it does, but we all just sit aroundscratching our nuts for the first hour anyway".

So the ice was broken now. And that was funny! Well, anyways the rest ofthe day went great. Everyone had their fun. We talked about my surgeryand radiaton treatment. They asked me about my sexual performance (inmore colorful terms of course). I told them all about testicular cancer,(as I had researched it thouroughly) and everyone got a great educationand I felt great about that. But this one guy named Leon, who was reallythe quiet type, didn't really say much. One thing he kept doing though,is callng me "Mounds" all day. Now my name is David so I just ignoredhim. But Leon was persistant and kept calling me "Mounds". About an hourbefore shift ended we were having another cup of coffee and talking. AndLeon was still calling me "Mounds". I wasn't the only one wondering whyhe was calling me "Mounds". He was getting puzzling looks from the restof the guys too. Finally I said, "Okay Leon I'll bite, why have you beencalling me "Mounds" all day"? He looked right at me and said, "Youreally don't get it"? "No, I don't get it Leon". I was actually gettinga little annoyed by now and wanted to know what was going on. He stoodup in front of everyone and started singing, "Almond Joy's got nuts,Mounds don't".

That is how I got the nickname "Mounds". I'm still affectionately known by that name by my co-workers today. Hey, ya gotta keep your sense of humor.


Scott
Well, it is good to see that so many others have gone through what I hadto. Well, it isn't good, but is assuring and relieving to see that many can relate. As you know, it only accounts for 1% of all cancers.. So, whatodds.. I get dang TC but can't win the lottery.. go figure... to give you abrief history of me:

I was 24 (and still am) when I found out. I was doing the self examthing and thought I felt something.. I didn't know what I felt, but hadalways heard that you shouldn't feel anything.. 1st let me back up a bit.. Ihad just graduated from college in May, got married in July.. and then foundout in Sep. Ok.. so after feeling "something" I went to the doctor.. hesent me to another... finally, after ultrasounds and tests a decision tooperate was made due to the fact that it is "99%" sure that it would becancerous.. So, it turned out to be only the size of an acorn.. I say only,but that is pretty decent sized.. but some included growth inside thetesticle... .

The doctor was "99%" sure that it hadn't spread(I got sick of hispercentages)... .so ordered a CT just to be safe.. Well, sure enough, it had spread.. to afive cm. sized tumor near my left kidney.. so chemotheraphy hear I come... .went through 3 cycles of that and now it is gone..

It has been 1 1/2 months since.. so I am still paranoid that it will come back... etc... hair isgrowing.. only about 1/4 inch long..So now you have my story..


Paul

I discovered alump in the spring of 1990 and was unprepared as to what was to come.My treatment included a Lymph Node Dissection at Johns Hopkins, fourcourses of chemo and another visit to Hopkins for a Thoraecotomy, allover a 13 month period.

In 1992 I completed a 3,100 mile bicycle trip across the U.S. to raisemoney for the American Cancer Society. I have made it a point to maketesticular cancer awareness a priority.

One other note to offer hope particularly to younger men diagnosedwith testicular cancer: This past year, my wife gave birth to adaughter (Jan 1996) after I was told by doctors that there were nomore children in our future.

I'm presently 41 years old, three children and cancer free since June1991...


Chris

I was diagnosed with TC on October 31, 1991. The next day I had a radical orchiectomy, and on November 19, 1991 I had an abdominal lymphnode disection. I had no chemo that year.

In September 1992, during a routine checkup, the doctors found that mycancer had returned. I went through three, 3-week sessions of chemo,receiving a weekly bleomicin (sp?) injection all nine weeks, andin-patient injection of Cisplatinin (sp?) and VP16 for five days duringeach session.

That did the trick, and I have been cancer-free ever since. My wife isnow pregnant with our first child, and she is due to have a little girlin March of this year.


Sheryl
Email...

I'm just writing to say that my husband is thank God, a survivor. In May1977 he was diagnosed with TC and immediately underwent an orchiectomy,followed several weeks later with RPLND, which showed several infectednodes. He was one of the first to try the new (now standard) chemo medications, and wehad to sign papers agreeing to this experimental treatment! We were notinformed about infertility, or any other "side effects" because the Dr.wanted to concentrate on just "saving his life" and couldn't imaginethere would ever be an "afterwards".

After two years of chemo (which today has been reduced to a fraction of that time), he was pronounced"cured." He continues to have regular exams, blood work, etc. It issometimes difficult for him when he hears that today the treatment is somuch shorter and easier, but we both realize that only a short timebefore he was diagnosed, there was almost no hope at all for this typeof cancer.

We had researched many different avenues to return his fertility tonormal, but nothing worked. Today, people are told to deal with a spermbank before surgery and treatment, but even though I had brought this upto his doctor, I was poo-pooed away.We have always dealt with this cancer as "OUR problem" because it wassomething that affected both of us.We are both very grateful that treatment was available at just the righttime.


David D.
In 1981... I was diagnosed with cancer myself at the age of 29. It was testicular cancer and it was a nightmare at first. All the horrible images of my father's experience were still fresh in my mind, and I couldn't believe that I was going through this. Even the same doctors were involved in my case. Fortunately, surgery and six weeks of radiation took care of the problem, and I've been in excellent health since.
A TC mom
Having my 23 year old son diagnosed with this cancer is one of the hardestthings I've had to deal with in my whole life. I have a lot of medicalproblems myself, but this has been the most devastating. I have come to therealization that I can't talk about this to most people who inquire about myson because I still start to cry and then I get embarrassed because I'mcrying. People tell me that I should go to my room and cry and get it allout of my system, but I can't do that.

Matt, my son has taken this whole diagnosis much better than I have. He had the surgery in July, and right now he is getting the radiation treatments that leave him tired and with noappetite. I'm so happy to have found a forum that I can talk about this. I'm so scared about the future for him. He's getting married in June and they went to the sperm bank, but found the count low, but there is a possibility that they can still have their own children. I am also going to write an article about TC for the many women's and men's magazines and I hope that somehow I can raise the awareness of this cancer just like breast cancer and maybe save more lives. It is just as important for men to do self exams as it is for women!


Richard
I had TC about 5 years ago when I was thirty and it turned my life upside down. Fortunately I was only in stage I and after an op to remove the right side one I had athree day course of 'intensive' chemo at the Royal London Hospital here in the UK(I believe it was the Platinol variety). My specialist was Prof. Tim Oliver whoby all accounts is the leading authority on TC in the UK.

I still have follow up checks each year now and feel extremely well looked after.For all you who are still 'not out of the woods yet' I would say this. Nevergive up! I found I needed to constantly tell my friends exactly how I felteach day and if I wanted to just burst into tears then I did. But, I never gaveup hope and just focused on 'afterwards'. I often regard my life as being bothBC and AC (before cancer and after cancer); because it does change you and youremotions. I find I now have a healthy respect for my mortality. Five years onI'm OK but I can't forget the experience and I always promote the self-checkphilosophy to my male friends because it saved me.

A final word. I wish you God's peace; in whatever way that means to you personally.


Brad F

I had just turned 21 and got testicular cancer. Talk about hard to deal with at that agein a great relationship, and all the thoughts whether or not I would be able to have sexor even enjoy it! I had to try and everything still work; just with one less nut! But thensix months later they found it in my lymph node. And for you who don't know about this surgeryyou might never be able to have a ejaculation again. And of course my cancer was wrappedaround my nerve that controls that area, and my doctor had to cut that nerve. So my oddsof ever having a kid were slim to none, closer to none. But I was lucky all still works. And if I didn't have a great friend when going though this I don't know if I couldhave gone though it so easily.

One final note having a great partner that was willing to see it through and great nurses who helped keep me laughing, while going through chemo. Made life just great. One more thing I thank the lady who made my laugh at the whole situation,my first week of chemo, THANKS.


Jeffery

Last October(95), I went to the doctor with a concern about a swollen andsore testicle. Concerned? A little, however I had had these pains for aboutfour years. In 1991, I was a pole vaulter for the University and had atrauma to the left T, which left it lumpy and sore. October(95), the painwas much worse so I went to see a regular doctor. Wednesday of that sameweek I was at the hospital having a ultrasound. Thursday, the same week, Ireceived a call for the Urologist, I had seen back in 95, asking if I couldcome in and discuss the results. That afternoon I was enlightened to thefact that I may have testicular cancer.

After some blood work and soothing from family I was in the hospital the next day having surgery. The surgery confirmed the blood/ultrasound. I had embryonal carcinoma. After numerous CAT scans, blood work, chest x-rays, and physical exams I am happy to say that there has been no sign of cancer!

The last year has been very long. However, I have a great wife andfamily that are always there for me. I am 25 years old and the cancer is 1year gone.

Later, Jeffrey

PS - Just to add to my story: My wife and I are expecting our first child in August of 1997. We are thrilled to say the least. Thank heavens for thepower of God, prayers, good doctors and family support!


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