I'd like to begin with my story dating back to late summer 1989. I was working in a local restaurant when I met "M". She and I dated for a while and discussed "the deed". We mutually agreed at that time, my being 23 and she just turned 18, that it was best between married couples and not before. That was my upbringing anyway.
A few months later, we broke up.
In early Oct. 1990 while working at a retail store, I pulled my car into a parking space next to a VW Golf, got out and wham. The door was caught by the wind and it put a dent into the side of the Golf. Well I went into the store and punched in for the day. Later on, break I inquired about whose car it was and I was told it was Patti's. I didn't know exactly who she was and a co-worker pointed her out to me. Dark shoulder length hair, glasses, petite and very quiet. I told her what had happened and she looked at it and said not to worry about it because we both make only minimum wage. We did exchange insurance information. A few weeks had passed and a group of us went out after work to hang out. All of us had a great time. We decided to do it again the following weekend. We did. Cool. Well as the weeks went on it dwindled down to just the two of us and we ended up dating. Kind of awkward, but it turned heavy.
In Nov. 1991, we got married. Small service and about 20 relatives and family attended. The great times go fast when you're having fun in love. On Feb. 7 1994, I received a phone call from her while I was at work. She told me that my father was found dead at his home. Apparently, he died of ruptured lungs. He had had larynx cancer in 1985 that took his larynx out and was replaced with an automated voice piece. He was a two pack a day smoker and drank one case of Falls City beer a day since he was 16. This tore me apart. We had a rocky relationship and were in the works to smooth it out. Patti helped me through it. A year went by. The night of Feb. 7 1995, we were planning a special night. After I got out of the shower and was toweling off I felt something I had not felt before. My right testicle was larger than the left, was hard and smooth to the touch. Well I thought this was odd so the next morning I called the local Urology clinic and set up an appointment for the next day. Well I went in, the Dr. came in and asked what I needed, and I told him. He said ok let's check. The normal routine, drop 'em, check everything, feel everything, turn cough and finger exam. Then he set up an ultrasound in his back office. A few minutes after I dressed, he came in the room and told me that he thought it could be cancer. I recommend a second opinion and possible biopsy. OK. I went numb. No emotions, just numb. When Patti came over to pick me up, I had her come in to the Dr. office and he told the both of us. It took him 25 minutes and he told us the whole ins and outs of the procedure and what to expect before and after. I had my second opinion, confirmed.
As we left the office and were setting up the surgery date for that Saturday, I noticed my wife was slowly looking down at something. Before I knew it, she passed out. Cold! Right there on the floor. We got her up and she broke down and cried. In addition, said that it wasn't fair. Everyone I love dies of cancer. You see, her grandmother and mother both died of cancer. She felt cursed. I told her that was why I was here. To be a survivor and to get rid of it. We will not be victims. You won't be left lonely. We will beat this. I stayed strong. No emotions. Even through the surgery. Next step: wait, TWO WEEKS. Agonizing every possibility. However, I stayed strong. No emotion. Time came for the next step. We could either do regular check ups and hope nothing will show up or do the exploratory surgery of the abdomen and remove the lymph nodes to check them for any possibly spreading. We did the RPLND. Boy, oh boy I didn't know what to expect. I had an epidural on my lower spine, an i.v. in one hand, another line in my arm. When I came out of the 5 hour surgery, vomiting everything everywhere, I noticed another tube down my nose to my stomach and one on my nose to breath. That wasn't pleasant. The worst part was that I had a catheter up my penis. OOUUCCHH!!! I was in the hospital from that Wednesday, to Sunday morning. On Friday, I was getting used to the hourly checkups and ongoing noises and walking periods when a stranger introduced himself to me as the Hematologist and Oncologist. That scared me half to death. Throughout the last two week since this began, I stayed strong, up till this. He said he would have the results for both surgeries tomorrow morning
These words really let me get some sleep. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get to sleep. I WONDER WHY!!!!!!! Well the outcome was I had Stage 1 mixed type germ cell embryonal carcinoma yolk sac tumor. I didn't know what the hell he said so I said plain English please. This is the best type of any cancer to have if you were unfortunate to have cancer. We got it in the earliest possible stage and the twenty five lymph nodes removed showed no signs of any spreading. FANTASTIC!!!!! Over the next few years I have the ongoing blood tests, CT scans, chest x-rays, bone scans, MRI's and oh, I almost forgot. The left testicle had to have the hydrocele taken care of (water surrounding testicle) and one little tiny, very, very, very painful kidney stone was removed. Well. Things are going good. Sex is alright but no full release or complete ejaculation due to nerve damage during the RPLND surgery, but hey, Patti says good, no wet spots and no more birth control pills. This bothers me but I have to deal with it the best I can. I was told it would happen. Just dry air no "sperm". Regular check ups go great. Things are good.
WHAM!!!!!!!! It's now Oct. 7 2000 while showering, like us guys do, I felt there and felt a lump on the back of my left one. OOHH NNOOO. I went ballistic I could not conceive of this again. No way can this happen again. Not to me. I went back to my urologist and he examined me again. He told me to report this to my Hematologist and Oncologist. I did. He examined me also. He said that it was a possibility for this to happen.
That was it. Bring the tissues, the sleeves, that shirt out from in my pants. Hell, bring me a towel! I cried and cried and cried and cried. I wished that none of this happened, I wished my dad were here, I wish, hell I don't remember everything I wished for. It killed me to here those words. Well I was told to go to Indiana University in Indianapolis, to receive a second opinion from Dr. Einhorn whom specializes in TC and is a leading authority in this research. He confirmed it. He told me what I could do.
1. It needs immediate attention.
2. It can be done by opening and removing the area that is affected and have radiation. It could come back.
3. Remove it altogether and under go HRT. Not an easy choice. After weeks of more CT scans, bone scans, x-rays and blood work nothing showing up, I said take it out.
Cry. I want to get on with my life. Cry. That took a major toll on me mentally. I was totally wiped out physically, mentally and emotionally from crying..
By the time the surgery date came up the tumor had attached itself to the back, inside section of my scrotum. On Saturday morning, December 16th 2000 it came out. That night I went home to not walking well, and a tiny, bloody tube inserted into what was left of my scrotum to help drain any liquids out. I did not know what I had in store for me yet. I started having mood swings. Slight that they were. I didn't think anything of it. When I started the HRT with the patch I thought ok, it will be fine. Little did I know that I would have a terrible time ahead of me. What a Christmas gift.
First came the night sweats, sometimes two or three a night. I would push the covers off, she would bitch and pull them back up. Then during the day, I would sweat profusely. AT WORK!! It was embarrassing. What could I say? I wasn't about to tell everyone hey no balls, no testosterone, no hormone balance; I'm going to sweat. Then there were the mood swings. I could have really smashed some heavy boxes with my fist. I could have broken some windows or windshields with my fists. You name it that's how bad I felt. And the crying ! If somebody looked at me wrong, cry. If something on t.v. was "sobby." I would cry. At the movies all I could do was, CRY. CRY. CRY.
The results came back on this tumour. It was a mixed germ cell neoplasm predominantly embryonal carcinoma with lymph vascular invasion and invasion of the tunica albuginea classic seminoma with infrequent to occasional syncytrophoblastic giant cells. WOW! Again plain English. Stage 1 aggressive, with no signs of spreading. Great let me go home and on with my life. Cry, cry, cry. Well the next step was to start HRT. Remove the staples, remove the stitches, Ouch!! I was given the patches to start. Well this was easy. Open the package and stick it on. Simple. Well a few weeks later, I noticed erections. Great but I was still to sore for actual sexual intercourse. So off I go. Not bad. Only this time I almost flooded the whole area. I could not believe it. WET!! Little did I know this was temporary. When not in use some liquid gets stored. The next time in use, it gets released. Oh well. The patch can be ok for some people but not for me. You have to make sure your skin is completely dry, and guys, if you are extremely hairy, shave. That will help to keep it on. In addition, whatever you do don't sweat at all. It peels off if you do. You can't put it back on. I dealt with this for about two months. I told my Dr. and we decided on the next step, injections. We started slowly with maybe 100 mg of Testosterone (Depo) Cypionate every two weeks. We monitored my test levels and was asked about night flashes/hot sweats and my mood swings. I also discussed being slightly depressed. We kept monitoring and increasing the dosage until finally we are up the limit of 300mg. every two weeks. No more hot flashes/night sweats, no more mood swings and no more feeling depressed. Moreover, let's not forget, but most importantly, good, hard erections. FINALLY!!!! This went on until about late Feb. 2002. My Dr. asked me about the Androgel cream. Sure, I'll try it. Now, first of all does everyone know how expensive it is? One prescription with a fifteen day supply cost 172.00. (Editors note: Androgel costs vary. A thirty day supply in Canada costs about 100USD.) I put my insurance to work. Guess what. It was not covered. Therefore, I had to wait until the Dr. had sent my file to the company and finally they put me on the trial list where I didn't have to pay for it. Well I got it, and tried it.
The next morning I put it on after showering and toweling off completely. No problems. Feel fine. Two days into this, I noticed some small cramps in my lower back. Nothing. Then during the day, they progressed to the front of my abdomen and downward. Then it was like something was trying to get out. This killed me. At first, I thought it was something I ate. However, as time went on I realized it wasn't. During that rest of the week, I kept having them. I said no more. I stopped using the cream. Sure enough a day later the cramps seemed to dissipate 50%. Great. Then it was like they never happened. Gone, no more cramps. The next session with my Dr. I told him what happened, and we decided on the injections as our final way to go. Fine with me and off I go into my world again.
I still have my regular check ups with my Hematology and Oncologist and occasionally I will have my CT scans, blood tests, x-rays and anything else needed. I can take that.
You know I have been through hell and back I lost my testicles but I still have balls. I am a man but I understand what women go through with PMS, cramps and the whole nine yards. With my scar from my breastbone down to my pubic bone, I can say I have had a caesarian, and have had that awful pain of giving birth to a tiny kidney stone. In addition, the menopausal night sweats/hot flashes. So I can say this is a weird, wacky world in which we live.
The one constant thing through all of the good and bad, the ugly and believe me there was a lot of ugly, is my wife has stuck by me through the whole ordeal. We don't and never wanted children when we met 11 years ago. That has not changed. We have a family. Four amazing, wonderful and happy cats that take up that part of our lives. We wouldn't have it any other way. I'm putting my story out here so I can help any other man out there facing this possibility and not to scare you but to let you know there are others out there for you to lean on.