Journey with Cancer – All Clear!

Spoiler Alert: I’M ALL CLEAR!

At the end of February, I meet with my doctor and I received the “all clear.” At this point, all that I will have to do moving forward is keep monitoring to make sure cancer doesn’t show back up.

People frequently are asking how I am feeling. It took quite a while after chemo to feel like I was back to “normal.” In part, that was due to me running hard once I was done with chemotherapy as if nothing had ever happened. That wore my body out a bit and I had quite a bit of emotional and mental fatigue. For the most part, back to 100% now.

Thank you to all of you who have been walking with us on this journey. Your love, support, and prayers have meant the world to me and my family!

And please know this: My story and my experience is here because I hope it can be used to encourage others. I’m always happy to share with others or answers questions about my experience.

Twelve Days into Treatment

It’s been 12 days since I started chemotherapy. There is part of me that has a hard time believing it’s gone by this quickly. But there have been days where it feels like the days just drag on.

I’ve had some really good days like yesterday. I was able to go in and work a full day without feeling too bad or too worn down. That was a huge win!

There have been a few nights I feel terrible, sick, and barely sleep.

In all the ups and downs, there has been one thing I’ve found to constantly help: gratitude.

I am thankful for so much. My amazing and supportive wife and my healthy, fun, and intelligent children. All the family and friends who are supporting us. The great place I work with people who care more about me then the work I produce. The amazing healthcare providers who are taking care of me and helping me beat the cancer.

Sure, there a lot of things I’m struggling with but I have so much more that I’m thankful for. And I think that makes all the difference. 

When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, I start thanking God for all that is good in my life. It may not help me fall back asleep, but I certainly have a better outlook and maybe even a little joy while I try to drift off to sleep.

I encourage you with this: When you are going through a struggle and it’s getting you down, stop for a minute and start listing the things you are thankful for. You’ll be amazed at how that one act can impact the way you get through your time of struggle.

Three Days in to Chemo

I thought it was time for a quick update to keep you all in the loop.

On Monday, I started chemotherapy. Going into it, I was nervous how my body would respond to the drugs. The doctors gave us hope that the side effects could be easily managed, but with the preface that each person’s body responds a bit differently.

It hasn’t been too hard on me so far–aside from struggling a little to stay awake and focused to write this update. ­čÖé The doctors have been proactive about preventing the nausea and that seems to have helped a ton. It definitely has taken a toll on my energy levels. I’ve come home each afternoon and taken a nap.

Support from Rachelle, family and friends has been a huge blessing this week. It has meant the world to me. And I wanted to thank all you for your thoughts and prayers!

I think my takeaway from these first three days of treatment is this: It might be a long, tiring couple of months, but we will make it through.

P.S. I want to give a shout out to the Compass Oncology staff. They are some of the most fabulous doctors and nurses I have ever met! You know you are valued, cared for, and in great hands there.

From Discovery to Diagnosis

This journey has been a bit of a whirlwind. From the discovering something odd to having a diagnosis and treatment plan, it was less than three weeks. Here is how things transpired.

Mid-to-late August

I noticed something odd. It was a little lump that was new. I wasn’t concerned because I figured it would just go away. After a couple weeks, I seemed to be noticing it more frequently. Again, it seemed odd to me. I decided to make a physical appointment that ended up being a week and a half out. That was Monday, August 29th.

Tuesday, August 30

I couldn’t shake the feeling that this might be something more than just a lump. About lunch time, I decided to call the doctor’s office and see if they thought I needed to be seen sooner. After briefly describing my situation and the nurse checking with the doctor, I was told they wanted to see me the next day.

A side note: For whatever reason, at this point I felt like I needed to start recording videos before and/or after appointments. I felt like this was going to be a process and something that I might want to share.

Wednesday, August 31

My doctor was out of the office, so they scheduled me with one of the other doctors in the office. After a brief exam, he ordered an ultrasound the following day. He said there were a couple possibilities of what it could be aside from testicular cancer. From his demeanor and how he talked about it, I thought he seemed concerned that it was cancer.

Thursday, September 1

I had the ultrasound. I think the hardest part was working the rest of the day waiting for the doctor to call with the results. About 4 PM, I got a call. The doctor told me that it wasn’t a cyst and that it was likely cancer. They setup an appointment with a urologist who would help determine the next steps.

Friday, September 2

We met with the urologist. He told us that at this point, they were treating the lump as if it were testicular cancer. Testicular cancer can be pretty aggressive and spread quickly, so he had set aside time the next Thursday for a surgery to remove the mass. Best case scenario would be that it was a benign growth that needed to be removed. If was cancer, it would need the biopsy and pathology to know how to best treat it. Before leaving, I had some blood work done and got an EKG to prepare for surgery.

This whole thing was such a whirlwind. It was all happening so fast and I hadn’t really processed what this might mean. I probably have cancer.

That next week was really hard. All we could do was wait. Trying to not go to worst case scenarios was consuming.

Thursday, September 8

It was surgery day. As I was in the room getting ready for surgery, the doctor came back and talked to us. He also told us that two tumor markers came back elevated. That meant they could confirm it was cancer. It was a bit of a shock to learn that right before surgery. We had assumed we wouldn’t really know until the pathology came back on the mass.

The surgery to remove the mass went well and we went home that evening. The recovery was fairly easy. I was able to go back to work on Tuesday and work a half day. However, we had another long wait. We had to wait until the following Friday to go over the pathology with the urologist.

At this point, we knew it was cancer, but we had no idea what that meant. It could be as simple as further monitoring or it could mean more surgeries and chemotherapy.

Friday, September 16

We meet with the urologist. He went over the pathology of the tumor. It was a non-seminomas tumor, which is the more aggressive of the two primary testicular cancer types. He told us that my specific diagnosis would almost certainly require chemotherapy. The doctor ordered a chest x-ray and CT scan to check and see if the cancer had spread. Also, we were referred to an oncologist who would help us with the next steps.

I was incredibly lucky because I was able to get in and have CT scan and chest x-ray that same day.

Monday, September 19

The oncologist was able to see us Monday morning. He talked through my diagnosis and scans and helped walk through our possible options for treatment. His recommended treatment for me was chemotherapy. After discussing our odds and options, we decided to move forward with chemotherapy.

This is My Journey With Cancer

How do you start? I’ve sat here and started typing half a dozen times and end up deleting them. There doesn’t seem to be a good way to say “hey, I have testicular┬ácancer.”

I think it’s also because I’m still processing the idea myself.

However, I believe this journey I am on with my family is one that is meant to be shared with others. Some of you reading this are friends or family and I hope this blog can help you stay informed. Some of you may find this because you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer–I hope you find my experience to be informative.

Most of all, I hope this is encouraging.

I’ll posting more videos and blog posts in the coming days. Stay tuned!