Authors note: This write-up will contain some words that are likely to be considered Not Safe For Work, however all words used are medically correct terminology. Some details might not be for the faint of heart either, but I promise I’m not going to give too many details.
Cancer. Not the news that anyone expects to receive, let alone at the age of 32. Yet here I was, a relatively healthy guy, a few weeks back receiving this diagnosis. A million thoughts went racing through my head at the time, many of which are too dark and personal to share in the open. However, I don’t want my situation to be one looking for pity and attention, because that’s not who I am. Matt and Tim have graciously agreed to let me use the THG platform available to me in order to promote cancer awareness and early screening. My outlook today is extremely positive thanks to catching the cancer early and removing it before it had a chance to spread.
Let me back up a little and share how I got to this point. For a number of years, I have had a routine where I check my testicles in the shower, looking for lumps or irregularities; just a light “pinch and roll” one to two times a month. Looking back, I can attribute this to my mother, who has been in the medical field for nearly 40 years. Growing up, she always stressed to my brothers and I to seek medical attention as soon as we felt something was wrong with any part of our body and not be embarrassed doing so. For many years, I ignored her (as any kid/teenager does with their parents), but after graduating college, getting married and setting up my life I realized I wanted to stick around as long as possible and she had a point.
In early April while taking an evening shower, I noticed that my right testicle did not feel right. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like a rock had replaced it. The next morning, I called my Primary Care Physician (PCP) and they found an opening that day, and even though my PCP didn’t think anything felt off, she trusted my judgement and ordered and ultrasound to be completed. The ultrasound was scheduled a week out, and boy let me tell you that was a long week of waiting. When the images were done, the results were not positive. The radiologist suspected malignancy as tumors and microcalcifications had replaced nearly the entire testicle.
The next step for me was meeting with a urologist (one thing I did learn from this process is that urologists are the doctors who usually handle testicular, penile, bladder and some kidney cancers, not oncologists). I had the initial meeting with my urologist on a Wednesday and by the following Monday I was going into Radical Orchiectomy surgery. In layman’s terms, I was having my testicle and spermatic cord removed. Both were sent off to pathology which, after another long week of waiting, provided me with an official diagnosis: Stage 1B seminoma. Given the situation, this is the best diagnosis I could have hoped for. Stage 1 meant no spreading, and seminoma is the least aggressive of the testicular cancers. Two weeks after surgery I had additional imaging completed of my abdomen and chest, which confirmed the lack of spread.
Even with all of the good news, my journey isn’t over yet. My recovery since surgery has been good, and I am almost back to normal (though I am on a ‘no weight’ lifting restriction until the end of May). I will have to monitor my situation intensely for three to six years to make sure that no new tumors show up. This will involve imaging and bloodwork every four to six months. As I stated at the beginning, I’m not sharing this because I’m looking for pity or attention; in the greater cancer landscape, my journey has been an easy one so far (my dad passed away from glioblastoma (brain cancer) in 2020 so I have seen firsthand how hard cancer can affect someone). My hope is my story prompts other individuals to implement simple cancer screening practices into their lives, as well as visiting the doctor if something isn’t right. Nothing felt “wrong” with me leading up to all this, so without my checks, who knows how long it would have been before I did feel something was off and get to the doctor. Doing the checks saved my life, and hopefully I can help to save someone else’s too.
To all the men reading this, both young and old: it is not hard to check your testicles. It’s as easy as taking 10 seconds in the shower once a month. To all the women reading this, it is my understanding that doing a self-screening for breast cancer is not difficult or time consuming either. I am not shy in speaking about this because I want to spread awareness. If anyone has questions or wants to share stories of their own, the easiest way to reach me is on the THG Discord where I am IndoorThread13. My DMs are open to anyone.
Author’s note part 2: Electric Boogaloo: I want to thank all the nurses and doctors at the Bellin Hospital locations that have had a hand in helping me. You all are wonderful. Additionally, thanks to Matt and Tim for allowing me to use the THG platform to help spread the word on cancer awareness.