Revised August 29, 2000
From what I've been told, when I was 11 months old one of my testicles started to enlarge. My mom took me to three different doctors before someone took serious action. The other doctors all thought it was fluid or "normal". The last place performed emergency surgery on me, Memorial Day weekend 1978. A doctor had flown back home for me, because everyone was away for the holiday weekend. It was cancer. I had the RPLND, but I didn't need chemotherapy. [Editor's note: They almost never do an RPLND in pediatric cases anymore.] The cancer was caught early, so I didn't need it. Now, I was left to face the world as a person no one would understand.
Until I was about 8 years-old, I would ask my mom about this scar on my stomach. Why did I have it and no one else did? Her reply was "You were sick and needed surgery but you are fine now." I let that answer satisfy me, but I still wondered why no one else had this scar.
Since, I was clueless, something really embarrassing happened to me in the 4th grade. We were in class watching a "facts of life" movie. They had a part where they showed a scrotum and it had two testicles in there. Unaware of everyone else's testicular capacity, I asked the teacher "How did they get two testicles together?" She gave me this look like I had no idea what was inside of my pants.
My mom also forced me to take swimming lessons. When EVERYONE asked me about my scar, all I could answer was, "I don't know," because I seriously didn't. I do enjoy swimming, but I have been scarred by all these people asking me about my scar. I naturally don't do it anymore, and I don't take my shirt off in public.
Also, when I was a kid, we had to switch doctors. I had a back to school physical and went to the doctor. When she unzipped my pants, she started to laugh. She stood me up and made me show my mom that I only had one testicle. My mom laughed it off. It was one of the most embarrassing moments EVER.
It wasn't until I was in 6th grade that my parents told me I had had cancer. It was on the day of my yearly check-up with the oncologist . The doctor asked if I knew why I had to see him every year. I said I didn't know. Later that night, my parents told me I had cancer and that my doctor was mad at them for not telling me sooner. Everything made sense now...the scar, the missing jewel, the doctor's appointments.
To this day. I don't feel comfortable going to the doctor unless it's a male doctor who knows my history. I always dreaded being sick and having to see a doctor, because they all ask and want to know what happened to me. It's old after awhile, having to explain this experience.
From the 6th grade on, I withdrew from everyone. Family, friends, and myself. I didn't understand this. I kept this experience to myself. I kept all the hurt and confusion to myself too. I hated everything and everyone who's life seemed perfect and normal. Naturally, I was sent to therapy. It didn't help very much. I don't think I needed someone to tell me what was wrong with me and how to cope. What I really wish I had was someone who had gone through what I did and be able to talk. I think I would have spent most of my teen years a happier person, if I only had someone who also had TC in my life to talk with.
My oncologist also told me that I could have plastic surgery to fix my scar and get an implant. The summer when I was 15, I had the scar redone. It wasn't as perfect as I thought it would be, but it was better than what I had. Because of the breast implant controversy, they wouldn't let me get the testicular implant. It was about three years later, when I was 17, before I got it. That was so hard to ask my parents for. When most kids my age, were asking for cars, extended curfews, and new clothes. I was asking for a testicle. It seemed so normal for me... but it's really messed up.
I am 23 years old now. I've had a lot better time dealing with this since I found Doug and Chris. I do not know where I'd be, mentally, if it weren't for them and this website. As far as dating, I never really did any of that. I'm a fairly attractive guy; I just shy away from people and haven't really put it as a priority. I just am scared of what people will say if they find out I had this. Will they like me for who I am? Yet, the more I think of it, I think I am also scared that someone will like me despite of what I had. I think it also scares me..that someone might love me sooner than I loved myself.
As of where I'm at right now, I think I let go of a lot of my fears. I'm not as confused anymore. I think I can only make the best of it. I used to wish and pray when I was a kid, that when I woke up this cancer thing would all go away, and I would wake up normal. It didn't happen. I realize now, it's not going to change. I spent most of my life focusing on what I don't have, but I can only live with what I do have. And I have more than I realize.