I originally posted this on Facebook, but I’ve included it here for the apocalyptic day when Facebook dies. This is a recounting of my original experience with Testicular Cancer.
- Sunday, November 2nd
I noticed an unusually hard lump in “the area”.
- Tuesday, November 4th
I called to make an appointment with our Doctor to have things checked out. I was a little nervous about saying what the issue was, but the earliest appointment I could get for a regular physical was November 28th! So I cautiously crafted some descriptive words, and had an appointment for the next day.
- Wednesday, November 5th
At that appointment, my Doctor thought it might be a water filled cyst on the bottom of “the area”, or possibly something else. He recommended an ultrasound on Thursday, so 1:15pm it was.
- Thursday, November 6th
If you know what the process of an ultrasound is like, then you can understand the awkwardness. That appointment lasted about 20 minutes, and by 5:00pm, my Doctor called to inform us that the ultrasound showed a solid mass growing from within “the area”. He scheduled me for some blood work and a X-ray at 8:00am, a Urologist appointment at 10:00am, and a CT scan at 2:45pm, all for the next day. He mentioned that the Urologist might want to talk to us about the possibility of surgery.
- Friday, November 7th
Blood work and X-ray appointment took 15 minutes. X-ray was clean and clear (they were looking for other masses in my abdomen and chest). Then I was off to the Urologist. He explained that they needed to do a biopsy on the growth, and the only way to do that was to remove “the area”. He wanted to move forward immediately, and so I was prepped for surgery at the Urologist’s Surgi-Center, which had several full operating rooms. At 11:30am I was being wheeled off to have a left Orchiechtomy. Surgery went as planned, and I had the Urologist take pictures for me (you DON’T want to see them)! I was sent home with some pain pills and instructions to take it easy.
I quickly noticed some swelling, which was/is normal. However, I had a reaction to some of the pain medication, which caused some severe nausea and vomiting. I’m pretty sure it was the vomiting that exacerbated the subtle, but already present internal bleeding.
- Saturday, November 8th
I made it through the night without much sleep, and had another nausea attack in the morning. I phoned my Urologist to see if I might be able to get some different medication, and commented that the swelling had dramatically slightly. He wanted me to come down to the ER. Within the next 5 minutes, the swelling nearly doubled. Once at the ER, I was prepped for emergency surgery. At about 10:30am, I was wheeled off once again to have sharp things near “the area”. The surgery went fine. Turns out that a suture had broke free from one of the arteries that is a part of the chord that goes to said “area”. Internal bleeding is a risk of most surgeries, although the Urologist said he had never seen anything like this before. Definitely not the Urologists fault, he was amazing during this whole process. During the surgery I had a drainage tube installed to continue removing blood and fluid. With the tube in, I had to have my bandages changed every 4 hours.
- Sunday, November 9th
I missed my original CT scan because of the rush on my first surgery. So at 9:00am I had my CT scan. I was released at around noon! The hospital was nice, but home is much better. I had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday to get the results of my biopsy and the CT scan.
- Tuesday, November 11th
First, I got my drainage tube removed, then we got the results of all the tests. Some of the biopsy results were still coming in, but the preliminary results showed that the mass was 95% seminoma cancer, and 5% teratoma cancer. The CT scan also showed several enlarged lymph nodes.
So, all testicular cancer is highly treatable. Tetatoma is one of the worse and less common ones, but still highly treatable, so only 5% is really good. The next place for the cancer to spread would be the lymphatic system, and then to liver, kidneys, lungs, and bones. My Urologist doesn’t think the cancer has spread, but due to the nature of testicular cancer, and tetratoma specifically, he wants me to see an Oncologist to make sure we make the right decision on what the next move is.
My next move options are:
- Do nothing except continually monitor for cancer growth and spreading
- Chemo therapy and/or radiation
- Lymphatic surgery
- Or a combination of the above
We meet with our Oncologist next Thursday to discuss our options and their risks. My Oncologist worked with Lance Armstrong’s Oncologist, who lives in Portland, OR, only 2 hours away. Lance’s cancer was far more advanced than mine, and he seems to be doing quite well! Maybe I’ll win the Tour next year.
- Wednesday, November 12th
Today was a good day. My first bowel movement and shower since Friday! Things are returning to normal. I’m supposed to stay off of my feet until Monday, and the rest of the swelling and bruising should go away in 2 – 4 weeks.
Testicular cancer is the number one cancer in males between the ages of 15 to 34. If you are a guy, you NEED to be doing monthly self-examinations. You ladies also need to be doing self-examinations as well. Some types of cancer can grow rapidly, that’s why all this happened so fast for me. I think it’s weird to post all this here on Facebook, but I thought it the best way to tell the story to people who are interested, and if it will encourage people to do self-examinations, then it’s definitely worth it. I’ve got lots of pictures, but I don’t think I’ll post those!
- Continued Care
The decision was made to enter into a long period of surveillance only as the method of continued care. Our Oncologist said that the Lymphatic Surgery (Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection) was really invasive, and in a high percentage of cases of Stage I Testicular Cancer, surveillance was all that was needed. So I would return for repeat scans and appointments every 3 months, and then every 6 months, AND THEN once per year.