Cancer Round 1 – 2006:
For those of you who don’t know my first battle with testicular cancer was in early 2006 when I just had graduated from the University of Missouri Columbia. I will not go into the specifics but I had two surgeries at that time. The first surgery was to remove the left tumor / testicle and the second surgery was to remove a section of my lymphnodes which was the most probable landing site for the cancer to return. The normal flow of cancer that originates from the testicle(s) goes in an upward fashion so eventually it could get to the lungs / brain if not treated in a timely manner. After the two surgeries and biopsy on the lymphnodes they thought chemo was not necessary because none showed signs of cancer present. I then had to visit my urologist Dr. Stephen Brandes every 6 months for 5 years because after 5 years you are considered cured! But unfortunately a couple months before my 5 year visited I had found out it had come back again in the right testicle and this time wasn’t going to be as easy.
Cancer Round 2 – 2011:
In December 2010 I was having odd pains in my stomach that I knew were not normal. I let them go for a week or two and then made an appointment at the local urgent care downtown. They examined me and thought the best option was to get a CT scan to see if anything odd was going on. I went to get the CT scan and after waiting anxiously for the results they concluded that everything was negative and I appeared ok. I was still puzzled by my pain and thought I knew a little more than what they were telling me. I decided to make an appointment with my primary care physician Dr. Todd Hammond in January to see if anything looked out of the ordinary. After looking me over from head to toe (the standard physical) he said I was healthy and I was out of there. I was still not convinced and in February I noticed an odd lump while in the shower on my right testicle. I knew instantly what it was and although trying not to be pessimistic I had been through it before and had no doubt it was cancer again.
I didn’t really tell anyone what I had found for a week or two and tried to put it out of my mind because I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I knew the reality of the situation but wasn’t ready to face it yet. There were many sleepless nights and I finally told Gisela (I will get to my wonderful girlfriend later) when she called me and told me her Grandmother in Mexico was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I then broke down and started to cry and told her that I have it (cancer) again. Just like a mother she said, “Now don’t get yourself worked up…. Just make an appointment with the doc, it could be something else”. Although I knew it was back I told her I would make an appointment and see. I then told my amazing mother Joan (I will get to her later too) and she echoed what Gisela had told me and always getting me to look on the bright side of things which unfortunately I am a born pessimist but to be honest I am slowly changing. I believe I told a couple other close friends and then made an appointment to see Dr. Brandes at Barnes Jewish for the month of March. That’s when the official diagnosis was determined.
My 5 Year Visit
My appointment for the Dr. was set for March and I was scared to say the least to hear what was going on. I later found out the odds of getting testicular cancer again was about 1%-2% so could it really happen to me again??? I hoped not but as I was called into an open room it felt like hours waiting for the Dr. to arrive. My palms were sweaty and I was trying to hold back the tears and emotions coming to the surface.
The Dr. came in and saw my face but kept doing his normal procedures. He was under the impression that I was here for my annual visit of 5 years and I was to be cured and sent to move on with my life. But after I told him what I was there for and he examined me, I will never forget the look on his face and what he said after. After what he felt and saw his head drop and he appeared visibly shaken and upset murmering some cuss words because he was beyond surprised that it was back. I knew it was back before I even got there but seeing the Dr.’s face all my emotions came to the surface. I felt alone, scared, helpless, mad and soo many things were running through my head like, “Why me again?”, “Can’t I get a break”, “What does this mean?”, “F!*k”, etc, etc. I started that day feeling sorry for myself but as you’ll see that slowly changes. This was just the beginning of my second battle with cancer.
That day I was rushed from test to test and as they went on I was wishing I had my mother with me. I specifically told her, “I got this” but after being at the hospital from 8AM to 4PM I was getting lonely and more emotional than I had ever been in the past. I had an ultrasound of the tumor and if you have ever gotten something like this to say the least it is awkward. Because of the rarity of my case they decide to bring more people in the room and I am like “Really, you have to bring 20 something year old girl interns in to look at my ultrasound of my ‘area’”. In my head this was phrased differently though. I then had blood work and then had to do a CT scan and a chest X-Ray which I have had a million of in the past years so I was OK with. I was then rushed back up to the Dr.’s office and he viewed the results….It was indeed testicular cancer again and at Stage 2.
The long journey was beginning again but I was to find out shortly that it wasn’t going to be as easy as the first time.