Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I got a call yesterday morning from Doctor Wenger that I have a Stage I Seminoma. All things considered, this is about as good as it gets. Stage I means that it has not spread to the epididimous or vas deferens (which would be bad), the other testicle (a little worse), or the surrounding lymph nodes and organs (a lot worse). Furthermore, Seminoma responds MUCH better to treatment than Non-seminoma (the kind Lance had) and the treatment is a great deal easier to deal with.
It is most likely I will be getting radiation therapy for 4-6 weeks. The resulting side effects include nausea, diarrhea, possible vomiting (though it’s less likely) and general tiredness. Still, it soooooo much easier to face than chemotherapy, which causes hair to fall out, chronic exhaustion, inability to eat or keep down what you do eat. My heart goes out to those who have to deal with the effects of chemo.
So when Doctor Wenger called, he kept assuring me I had a long life in front of me, and I would be fine in the long haul. It was almost a little strange, until I realized it’s probably not everyday you tell someone they have cancer, especially testicular cancer (which is relatively rare: about 6-7,000 guys a year are diagnosed with it). Further, I think it’s the word: CANCER! I think a lot of people hear the word and hear a death-sentence. The people I know, especially the survivors, have educated themselves about the disease, and become empowered by embracing the cancer. It’s as if when you know as much as you can about it, and what specifically you are facing, it loses its hold on you.
I have to confess, the moment Dr. Wenger said, “You have a lump” I realized my life was changed…but it wasn’t over. He pointed me to all of the resources and websites I mentioned before, and gave me the statistical information to back up his assertions that I would be okay. I have to say I really respect him because he respects me, and he sees this process as a collaboration, not as an opportunity for him to tell me what to do. I will count myself fortunate to have doctors like him all the way through this journey.
The next step is a CAT Scan on Thursday. They’ll take pictures of the lymph nodes and surrounding organs to get an idea of where everything is and to double check to ensure the cancer has not spread to the organs or the lymph nodes. After that, I’ll reconvene with Dr. Wenger next week to review the scans, the post-operative results, and the biopsy results, and then begin planning my course of action for the next couple of months, which, again, will probably involve radiation but no chemo. I’ll also take all of the information and results with me to get a second opinion, just to make sure it fits with the current recommendations as they are being given.