I was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in the spring of 2008. It started when I found a lump on my testicle. I ignored it at first but it continued growing. I asked my father for advice and he told me this was not something to mess around with. I didn’t know how right he was at the time. Within two weeks of going to the hospital to have the mass examined, I was on a surgical table to have the testicle removed.
My doctors and family made a decision to monitor my health with a frequent battery of blood work and other monthly tests known as surveillance, instead of chemo. This was the status quo for 14 months. However, in just weeks after my high school graduation, a glitch in my blood tumour markers had surfaced. Further tests revealed malignant lymph nodes in my abdomen. Before the month of July was over I had started my first round of chemo-therapy and would continue treatment until September 22nd.
I was preoccupied for the rest of the summer but I was healthy enough, that by my birthday in September, I was at Mount Allison University for frosh week. I was gaunt and bald but at least I was at school instead of the hospital.
I received more bad news in November though. A CT-Scan indicated that I had 2 enlarged nodes even after chemo. My family and I met with a surgeon form Halifax and a decision was reached that I would drop out of first semester (I did manage to get a credit in philosophy) and have full abdominal surgery performed called RPLND. My major organs had to be lifted out of my abdomen and placed on my chest before doctors were able to access and remove all of the lymph nodes from my abdomen. I have recovered from the surgery and am back at school. When my family and I received the pathology reports about the nodes that were removed, we had to make another decision – either more chemo or surveillance again. We chose surveillance.Over the past few years, I have overcome many hardships – chemo and surgeries. During the time spent in hospital, Dr’s offices and speaking to people, I have found that there is not enough education for young men to know about testicular cancer and to know how important self examination really is. I am just glad I wasn’t embarrassed to ask someone.