April 5, 2018

John Dougherty – PART 1 – Diagnosis

“All seems good and we have a lot of options on the table. Let me do a quick physical exam before you go.”

My wife and I had gone to see my urologist for some guidance on fertility. Up to this point, our attempts were unsuccessful and we weren’t entirely sure why. I was born with a bladder defect that we knew posed a minor obstacle in having a baby. But he quickly reassured us that it shouldn’t be a problem and we have plenty of options on the table. My wife and I breathed a sigh of relief that it was nothing serious.

My urologist equipped a pair of latex exam gloves. Just a routine physical before we go. The next sixty seconds I remember so clearly. As he rolled his fingers around my right testicle, he briefly stopped and his head titled. “Hmm,” he uttered. He rolled his fingers into a few different positions, stood back up, and removed the gloves. “I’m feeling something we should take a look at, just to be safe.” When we asked about this mystery lump he felt, he assured us that it could be many things. “Obviously, cancer is the worst case scenario but we only see about 8000 men diagnosed each year, I have to mention it, but it’s highly unlikely.” He scheduled an ultrasound for the following week and we left the office.

As someone who always got paranoid about being sick, I had self-diagnosed myself with cancer numerous times with the help of WebMD. My headache that wouldn’t go away: brain cancer. The cough that wouldn’t go away: lung cancer. My knee pain after a run: knee cancer? I’d done this so many times I became desensitized to the idea of cancer. Because it just doesn’t really happen. Only in my head. But this felt different: it was a real doctor, who felt something, and is now scheduling tests. WebMD never felt anything or ordered tests.

We met a friend that night for dinner and I was entirely useless, only focused on the ultrasound the following Monday. As we left dinner, I asked my wife, “what if I have cancer?” Knowing my history of being paranoid about my health, she replied, “you don’t have cancer, he even said it’s very unlikely.”

Over the next several days, I examined my right testicle every chance I got, trying to feel what he felt. I never did. In retrospect, that is the scariest memory: I could never detect the tumor! They tell you to contact your doctor if you feel a lump…well I never did. What if he hadn’t noticed it? What if I hadn’t gone to see him for a separate issue? Well, the lump I could never feel would not have sent me to the doctor. Despite the many hours I spent rolling the testicle between my fingers, nothing felt strange. In long run, there was a reason nothing felt out of the ordinary: the tumor had enveloped almost the entirety of the testicle. So instead of examining my testicle, I was unknowingly examining my tumor.

The ultrasound was on a Monday morning. While I sat in the radiology waiting room, I was wondering what to expect. Maybe a scrotal ultrasound isn’t as awkward as it sounds? Nope, it’s awkward. The female radiology technician called me into the room, then instructed me to lay down and place my scrotum on a towel. Just another Monday, right? The exam only lasted about ten minutes. As she stayed focused on the screen, I tried to read her impressions. Does she know what she is looking at and just can’t say it? I desperately wanted to ask but just couldn’t. The exam ended and she let me know the urologist will have the results in a few days. I went home and was quickly was introduced to the worst part of cancer survivorship: waiting for damn test results.

My urologist is always very prompt with results. So I assumed a response would be sooner than the 48-72 hour turnaround suggested by the radiologist. As hours became a day, I assumed the lack of a response spelled good news. I pictured the benign results sitting on his desk; he just hadn’t gotten back to me yet because the results are so uneventful. He’s calling the malignant tumor patients first, and then he’ll get to me.

That feeling changed on Tuesday. The results of my blood tests had come back, and they looked, well, not very reassuring. My testosterone and estrogen had doubled from six months earlier. They typically don’t do that. And I tested positive for beta-HCG, a funny little hormone typically found in only two types of patients: pregnant women and men with testicular cancer. The situation was becoming a little clearer. And for the first time I honestly said to myself, “shit, do I have cancer?”

On Wednesday, I was working from home. By late morning, I decided to go on a run. I didn’t think sitting around waiting for a phone call was a good idea. The run felt great. After two miles I was finding that awesome runners groove. The music on my headphones began to fade and the phone started to ring. I recognized the number…it was my urologist. I don’t remember the exact play-by-play of the conversation, but I remember a few key points.

A large mass in your right testicle. A dominant lesion, likely pure seminoma. Blood tests support this. Surgery in a week. Testicular cancer is beatable. We’ll know more soon.

I called my wife and Mom to let them know. I didn’t finish my run. I walked home. I broke down. I was 33 years old and cancer was now part of my life.

Stay tuned for PART 2 – Treatment

November 27, 2017

A “New Normal” and That’s Okay

The great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche described his mantra for success as amor fati -a love of fate. He further detailed it to mean, “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”

There was a moment where cancer never entered my daily thoughts and then, within seconds of hearing “It’s cancer”, it took hold of the space between my ears. The struggles with diagnosis are incredibly painful, scary and often dark. In those times, it was easy for me to dream back to my pre-cancer self.

Just like so many events in our lives, when we look back, they seem perfect. This was 100% me looking back to me on myself pre-cancer. We are quick to ignore faults and immediately focus on the positive, while even embellishing the truth along the way. Those where the good ole’ days, right?!?! For me, I had several thoughts like this when looking back mid-journey; the thoughts of “Why me?”, “This isn’t fair!”, and most powerful “I’m never going to be the same.”

There is no question that post-cancer I am a different person than I was pre-diagnosis, and I’ve slowly come to learn that this is a good thing. As the ripples have died down, cancer has left me with a greater respect for life, a deeper sense of what it means to be a man, and an overwhelming desire to be the best human possible for those around me. My cancer journey has taught me the value of discipline, but also appreciating the uncertain. It has taught me that more than anything in this world I want to be superman to my future kids and the strongest husband possible for my equally super wife.

Of course, I would be lying if I were to say that the negative thoughts didn’t still find their way in…I imagine they will always will there. Cancer sucks. Treatment sucks. PTSD after treatment is real. There is no getting around it. Yet, from our experiences as survivors, we have the power to leverage our journey to become stronger than we were before we heard those three loaded words. We have the ability to love and embrace our fate.

I would encourage anyone seeking brotherhood and support along their TC journey to connect with the team at the Testicular Cancer Foundation. Their team and array of programs are invaluable to those experiencing TC and have been instrumental in my personal journey.

July 1, 2017

TCF Summit

April 4, 2017

#KnowYourBalls Survivor Story – Brent Dirks

It's a weird way to think about it but I know my cancer was not about me. What does that even mean? It means that cancer helps me help others.

I've always been a helper. I'm the oldest son of 5 kids to a police officer and emergency room nurse. I had no chance. Public service is in my blood. I shot for the middle and became a firefighter/paramedic. I knew about the risks involved of running into burning buildings and crazy drivers on the highway while we tend to victims of car wrecks but never gave much thought to how the job could affect my health. All the old guys have bad backs so I've tried to stay healthy and active and "use good lifting form." Turns out, firefighters have a much higher risk than "the normal man" of developing testicular cancer. (Source)

I'd had a pretty hard couple days working out and noticed a little twinge in my groin but didn't think too much about it and it went away. I noticed it again after a good indoor rower workout and this time it hung around a little longer.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

I'm the father of two great, super fun, busy kids. We had all kinds of activities so I didn't put my health first and put off making a doctor's appointment. My right testicle felt like it was a river stone and somewhat painful. "I've got a pretty high tolerance of pain" says every tough guy ever. So when it got bad enough, I made a doctor's appointment and went to a urologist. The tests started! Blood work, ultrasounds, and ct scans. The diagnosis came in: stage 3 testicular cancer with involvement of numerous lymph nodes, 3 spots on my liver, and possibly my lungs. (Moral of the story and the key to awareness: early detection is critical in testicular cancer. When caught early, the involved testicle can be removed before the cancer is able to spread.)

Well, I wasn't expecting that. Through my faith in Jesus Christ, I knew He had me and my family in his hands and we were ready to tackle the unknown that laid ahead. All I knew was that I was going to meet a lot of new people that I never would have had the chance to without cancer. I was connected with a specialist surgeon who would take over the case from the urologist.

The first step was the orchiectomy, removing that river stone I had hanging. Of course all my firefighter brothers wanted to chime in about getting an implant. "You could get one that made noise or lit up or something." My son even thought that a steel implant would be awesome because every guy wants steel nuts! We found out that a real testicular implant is much like a breast implant and I decided that in my case, it wasn't needed. So the one nut and lefty jokes started. Firefighters and my immediate family are a different breed and love to joke around about the oddest things. It's how we cope and to me, it's fun.

The Treatment Process

Now that we stopped the source of the cancer, the next step was to stop the spread. I was referred to a great oncologist and we continued the treatment plan. The standard procedure was to do 4 rounds of BEP (bleomycin, etoposide, cisplatin) chemotherapy. In each round, I would go Monday through Friday the first week and then Monday only the next 2 weeks. We would reassess my blood work and lung function with each round. Remember that part where firefighters love to joke around; my chemo nurses had no idea what they were in for when I walked in. The first day I was giving them a hard time about how to start IVs and what quality patient care looks like. I never would tell them what I did and they would always give me weird looks. Pretty soon, my wife would be rolling her eyes and tell them I am a paramedic and not to worry about my criticism. I had a blast the first couple weeks. I still felt good and was making new friends everyday at chemo.

The first week of chemo started soon after my surgery so all the medications were administered by IV. My veins were quick to figure out that they didn't like how things were going and made it harder and harder for the nurses to obtain. We decided to get a port placed and I went in for the quick day surgery procedure. They keep you awake and chat with you while a plastic hub is placed under the skin of your R upper chest and a catheter is ran into your heart. No big deal. I didn't do all the research I should have and turns out your not supposed to do certain exercises with the port in. I found out later that some of the overhead lifts should be avoided with the port. I never had any real issues with it other than it clotting up a couple times. I guess they put mine in well.

Support from my Family and Friends

My firefighter and church families really stepped up! We set up a ride schedule where different people could drive me down to chemo and my wife could get the kids off to school and then come and meet us to bring me home afterwards. Firefighters can kill some time while waiting for the next emergency so the wait during chemo was no big deal. We would sit and chat and laugh. Pretty soon, all the nurse were eager to see which new cute firefighter was going to bring me in. Yup, all firefighters are good looking.

Support is a huge part of the process. When you are used to being the one who helps others, it's hard to sit back and let others help you. But that's what I did and it was amazing to see how people responded. Rides were covered, meals were prepared and brought to the house, the kids were taken care of. Even bracelets and shirts were made in my support. I'm kind of a big deal. I totally felt like a pro wrestler with my own t-shirt! Things were cruising along, we were getting into a routine and I was feeling good.

Effects of Treatment

The chemo was doing it's job. My hair started falling out a little bit. Then one day in the shower, 10 days in, most of it came out. I kind of had a mad scientist look going that I wasn't too fond of so I trimmed it super short with the clippers. My bare head was pretty tender and I wore hats most days. I was pretty proud of my hair before the cancer and not a huge fan of the bald head but at least I didn't have to shave. That's right, all the hair falls out. You don't really think about that until you pull back the covers on the bed and see that all your leg hair has come out in the night and was trapped in the bottom of the bed. Gross.

I want to take a second and tell you about how much of a rockstar my wife is! From the moment of the diagnosis and on, she was my rock. We were lying in bed the night after the diagnosis and she turned to me and said, as nonchalant as possible, "Well babe, you've got cancer." We both just laughed and laughed. We talked of what the future held and that we would keep a positive attitude, no matter what. She literally took care of everything. She was my crutch on the days I wasn't feeling strong or in too much pain to get off the couch on my own. She's the best wife ever!

The chemo was really doing it's job. My tumor markers were slowly lowering on the blood work. So was my blood count numbers and I could tell. Standing up became a chore without getting too dizzy. Taking a shower was work. And I was tired of everyone telling me how pale I was. I didn't have much of a tan from the start but now I was almost see through. I went in for a chemo treatment in the third month and could tell the nurses were looking at me differently. They asked, "Are you feeling okay?" I wasn't feeling too bad, fatigued and a little dizzy from time to time. We started discussing a blood transfusion and a couple days later I was hooked up with 2 units of blood.

A couple days later the fever and cough started. My wife was getting a little worried so we headed into the hospital. Little did I know that would start an 11 day stay in isolation. My white blood cell count was so low that the doctors worried I would get too sick in the real world. Masked up, bald and pale; I didn't feel too studly but still had faith that we were on the right track. God's plan was still on our minds. We were able to chat with and meet many new people. I was half the age of most of the people on the floor and loved messing with the nurses. Why would they put so many buttons on a hospital bed if they didn't want you to see how high it would go up in the air? An ambulance came through and I asked for help escaping but they did not oblige. After some medication to get my bones producing blood again, I was released back in the real world!

I received my last chemo treatment while admitted so I didn't get to ring the bell showing everyone you've completed chemo. I loved visiting the chemo nurses and crew when I went back for follow up appointments and they let me ring it then. Those nurses had a huge impact on my cancer journey and I will be forever grateful for their care and comfort.

The chemo did a good job. The cancer had stopped spreading and some of the tumors shrunk. That was not the outcome we were looking for. We were looking to be cured from cancer and the oncologist and surgeons felt they could go in with another surgery and get all the cancer out. We scheduled a lymphadenectomy and liver resection. One surgeon cut open my abdomen from the bottom of my sternum to my waistline. He went in and cut out the 3 spots off the liver. The other surgeon went in and took out 30 plus lymph nodes and other tubes and parts that were affected. They stapled me back up and sent me on my way.

I always said that I would never tell the nurses I was a 10 on the pain scale but the second day after the surgery they decided I should stand up and move around a little. It took 2 nurses to get me up from the hospital bed and to sit in the chair. I knew by the look on my wife's face that I was not doing good. The nurse asked about my pain and I said "10" before she was done with the question. They reminded me that I could hit the button on my pain med pump and I quickly hit it.

Recovery and Life After TC

The rest of the recovery seemed to go by quickly and I was back to light duty work and going to physical therapy in no time. Everyone told me to take it slow but I knew my body and what it was wanting to do. I was ready to get back to fighting fires and saving lives. 4 months after my surgery I was back on shift at the fire station and happy to be back. My fire department family pulled together like never before and it was great to be back with them, sharing stories and doing life together.

I've been cancer-free for a little over a year! Since the surgery, the blood work, x-rays and ct scans have all come back normal. There will always be reminders of my cancer journey. The big scar down my abdomen (second surgery), one just below my waist line (first surgery) and 2 on my upper right chest (from the port). The tingling/numbness in my right upper leg and right index finger. It took a while for my lungs to get back to normal but I'm pushing it in workouts with the guys again and holding my own. Oh yeah, and I only have 1 testicle. All these issues are a small price to pay to be cancer-free and still alive and kicking.

I hope my story sheds a little light on what the testicular cancer journey is like. I hope it helps others going through it or those who have a loved one fighting cancer. Guys: check yourselves, know your balls and tell someone if you find something new or different. Don't be shy, we all have balls and want to keep them. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Love y'all.

April 3, 2017

Owning my Balltrasound

When I was younger, I was terrified to put myself out into the world. The few times when I did, I had a tendency to feel uncomfortable, abdicating the narrative of my own life to people who really had no business being the storytellers.

It took time, heartbreak, healing, and a healthy dose of self-confidence (both earned and given) to finally own who I was, good and bad, warts and all.

Not that I had warts, mind you… at least not the physical ones. But I digress…

This is never more apparent to me than in March, the anniversary of my stage-three testicular cancer diagnosis. Each year during the first week of the third month of the Julian calendar, I get my reminder phone call from my oncologist’s office.

Blood work. Chest X-ray. Testicular ultrasound.

I will never forget my first one. I had just had my port inserted for my impending chemo. As I came to, I was told that I was about to have my bed wheeled into the ultrasound lab to check the lads.

“Ultrasound?” I asked. “Like as in pregnancy ultrasound?”


In my anesthesia-induced haze, I can’t say I remember the physical experience too much. It was basically a red-haired beehive hairdo’d nurse working the wand like a Corvette stick shift through my Netherlands. I also remember the diagnosis: a core on the left side, calcium deposits on the right.

They caught my cancer kinda late, so they’d have to treat it in a different way. I’d have enough chemo to treat Rhode Island, followed by the eviction of Lefty. Hey, sometimes a guy just doesn’t want a roommate.

They would then monitor Righty annually for the rest of my life to make sure he wouldn’t try to kill me like his evil twin.

I get to have this happy little indignity every year? Super!

It’s amazing what cancer treatment does to you, the most astounding to me being its utter ability to give you perspective. When first diagnosed, I simply told people I had cancer. Sadly for me, that answer was never good enough.

“What kind?” they would ask.

“Uh, testicular.”

Guys would either snicker or wince, usually the latter. Girls would say, “Oh.”

At first, I totally understood both reactions. But as time went on, I realized that not only was I consumed by my embarrassment, but I was also embarrassing others by my blatantly obvious discomfort discussing the matter.

So on the day of my third or fourth diagnosis anniversary, while in the shower as I extra-scrubbed the hinterland in preparation for my impending blitzkrieg of shame, I simply said out loud, “I’m going to own this. I’m not going to be embarrassed anymore.”

It did not help my cause that the entire Visiting Nurses Association was doing a rotation, and were morbidly curious to see something that they hadn’t seen before. There’s nothing quite so vulnerability-inducing as eleven insanely attractive young women staring at you when the only thing staring back at them is your face, your socks, and your sack.

‘You’re doing this in the name of science,’ I kept telling myself…silently.

And do you know what happened? Not one of them laughed. One even said that I had a lot of guts agreeing to let them be present in the room. And then she asked for my number.

Okay, kidding about that last part.

But I came to the realization that it was me that was in control of my embarrassment, and by using that control to quash it, not only was I helping myself, but possibly others who are not yet comfortable about owning one of the most sensitive of maladies a young man can endure, the age this disease seems to target more than most.

Do I still feel a twinge of I really don’t feel like being here each year? Absolutely. I’m human. But the feeling that I get when I hear, “There is no noticeable change, Mr. Duffy” is worth it beyond measure.

And by owning my balltrasound, and in reality, my testicular cancer in general, I’ve figured out a way to help others in the same boat.

I’m just going to lay it all out there and hope the response is as warm as the jelly I have to mop up from down under each year.

G’day, y’all.

March 29, 2017

A Shout Out to the Caregivers: You Are Doing a Good Freaking Job

Sadly, there is no manual or guidebook for when your husband receives a testicular cancer diagnosis.  Did you even know what testicular cancer was? Did you know that it preys on men ages 15-34 years old?  Your world is suddenly flipped upside down and there is not a darn thing you can do about it.  You feel completely and utterly helpless.  Maybe you cry yourself to sleep, maybe you are in shock, or maybe you keep everything to yourself. You never imagined yourself in this role - you were just married and enjoying life as a newlywed, but now he has cancer and everything is different.   The days to come are filled with uncertainties.  But, you are absolutely certain of one thing: you will do everything in your power to provide unrelenting love, support, and grace to ensure that your partner, a newly deemed cancer patient, is comfortable and taken care of.

In your new role as caregiver, you schedule appointments, provide transportation, pick up prescriptions, feel helpless as he wakes up from surgery in searing pain, watch in horror as he retches for hours after chemo, you shed tears behind closed doors. And you worry.  You worry about everything.  Are you doing enough to support him? Has the cancer spread? Is the treatment working? Can we have children? Will he live?

You feel completely alone.  Your peers are having babies and buying homes because that is just what you do when you are in your mid-twenties.  Getting through the day and making sure your husband is okay is the priority now.  All other normal life events are put on hold.  Your new reality includes things like researching fertility options, figuring out how to pay for the mounting medical bills, waiting for this nightmare to be over while just trying so desperately to hold it all together for the two of you.

Caregiving is a double edged sword.  Sometimes the grief and pain of watching your spouse suffer is almost insurmountable, but then again, you would never trade a minute of holding his hand during a scary doctor’s appointment, standing vigil by his bedside on a rough night, fetching ice cream because his appetite is back after losing so much weight.   There are moments of beauty in the chaos.

And with the bad days, there are good days, there are the milestones: the joy in his face after receiving news that the latest scan indicated no more cancer, when you learn that cancer did not rob him of his chance to be a father and you are expecting, when the scans continue to come back cancer free year after year.

And then all of the sudden the storm is over, and he is healthy.  He is okay.  But you, how are you? Did you get the chance to process everything and handle it, or are you a holy mess? It is okay to not be okay.  Maybe it has been days, months, or even years since the diagnosis and you are still trying to figure out how to adjust to this post-cancer life – there is no timeline for coping.  Cut yourself some slack.

And while every cancer experience is different, take comfort in that fact that there are more resources out there than you can imagine for patients, survivors and caregivers. You are not alone – there are other people out there that just get it.  Reach out, seek help, and talk to someone.  In the trenches of caregiving, do not forget to take care of yourself.  Get a pedicure, drink wine on a Tuesday, go for a hike - do you. You cannot pour from an empty cup.  When doubt creeps in on the bad days and you question if you are doing enough to support and comfort him, just remember one thing, there is no manual to caregiving and you are doing a good freaking job.

March 27, 2017

What is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month?

What is the official Testicular Cancer Awareness Month?

The Men’s health arena has seen great strides in the last few years.  With the prominence of Movember in November, Men’s health month in June, and a handful of specialty cancer weeks throughout the year it can be hard to keep them all straight.   While all of this is extremely important, Testicular Cancer Awareness Month can get lost in the shuffle. Although there are a handful of different references and sources for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, we recognize April as the official Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.

Why Does Testicular Cancer need an entire month to raise awareness?

By having an entire month to bring awareness and education to the masses we are able to greatly increase the likelihood of men performing testicular self exams.  Originally the first week of April (1-7) was recognized as Testicular Cancer Awareness Week.  Although the week is still recognized by many, the entire month of April has since been deemed as Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.  Receiving an entire month was an enormous victory for the testicular cancer community and those trying to bring light to the disease.  It has enabled the awareness and education of TC to reach the masses.

Why is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month so important?

Testicular Cancer is the most common cancer in males ages 15-34.  We all have loved ones that are susceptible to this disease.  By having a dedicated month for Testicular Cancer, a spotlight has been placed on the disease about the importance of understanding the risks and warning signs to look. Through dedicating an entire month, it empowers individuals, survivors, organizations, and the media to get involved in the life saving mission of insuring men know the importance of being advocates for their own health, and particularly the importance of a monthly testicular self exam.

Is there one specific organization behind Testicular Cancer Awareness Month?

The short answer is no.  Testicular Cancer Awareness Month is recognized and promoted by a host of credible well meaning organizations all working to help raise awareness, educate the public, and save lives.

What are the official Testicular Cancer Color(s)?

As you look from organization to organization, you will notice that the colors and representation of the disease differ.  There has been some debate over the years on the correct color for testicular cancer awareness and coinciding ribbons.  While we feel that TCF Blue appropriately represents the disease and our organization, below are a few other colors that have been seen over the years.

One of the original testicular cancer colors has been widely recognized as purple/violet. This color and representation of testicular cancer stems from the Orchid flower that shares the same color, and is a derivative of Orchis, the ancient Greek word for testicle.

With Lance Armstrong and the LIVESTRONG foundation there has been reference to the color yellow. However LIVESTRONG represents an array of cancers, not just testicular cancer.

There are also numerous organizations that use various shades of blue to represent their brand and personal testicular cancer efforts.

What can you do to get involved and help in the efforts for April?

There are opportunities for every type of person and organization to aide in the efforts of the testicular cancer foundation and to raise much needed awareness for the disease. April is a great time to start, but don’t let April 30th stop your advocating efforts. We need help year round. Here are a few ways to get involved:

-       Host an event: Hosting an event is a great way to help raise awareness and get the community involved. Download the fundraising toolkit here.

-       Order Self Exams Shower Cards: Ordering shower cards for yourself, loved ones, friends, family, religious group, or business is a great way to help insure the men in your life know the importance of a self exam.

-       Buy TCF merchandise: By wearing Testicular Cancer Foundation t-shirts and wristbands you not only look great, but you open up conversation about the disease which can create a dialogue on the importance of understanding the risks and warning signs of the disease.

-       Set up a fundraising page: Setting up a fundraising page is easy, takes only a few minutes and is a great way to help the organization. By raising funds, you are able to help fund our crucial programs. The Testicular Cancer Foundation operates on a 100% model meaning overhead expenses are covered by “Angel Donors” so you can fundraise in peace knowing 100% of the funds raised are going directly to saving lives.

Where can I get a free shower card for myself, friend or loved one?

We at the Testicular Cancer Foundation have an initiative to provide a free shower card to every household in America.  Click Here to order your free shower card today.

February 7, 2017

Love Yourself, Check Yourself This Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air.

With Valentine's Day just a week away, love is in the air. Valentine's is a day to celebrate loving and being loved. Here at TCF, we couldn’t agree more, and that is why we hope this Valentine's Day you won't forget to Love Yourself, Check Yourself (or your partner).

A simple Testicular Self Exam could save your life or the one you love. Testicular Cancer is the most common cancer in males ages 15-34. One male is diagnosed every hour and one male dies every single day. When caught early, Testicular Cancer is 99% curable and easily treated. Don’t let yourself, or your loved one, go un-checked this Valentines Day.

Click here to send us a Valentine's Day gift and spread the love!

xoxo – The TCF Team

December 22, 2016

TBT04: The Urologist

Editors Note: This post originally appeared on A Ballsy Sense of Tumor Blog

I had starting vlogging my cancer story from this point. My face wasn't sure how to comprehend what I had been told.

All things really came to a head that day. My urologist appointment was scheduled for October 26 with Dr. Dumont. In the waiting room, I was easily the youngest person by a long shot. I peed in a cup (to this day, I’m still not sure why) and waited to see the doctor.

Wow. Even though I had been believing this since I first called, it was still vastly different to hear it from a doctor. Furthermore, I had only called for an initial visit eight days prior. I went from having an area of concern to being a cancer patient in just over a week.After the customary “drop your pants and let me examine you,” the doctor looked me in the eye and said, “So I am going to be straight with you. You have cancer.”

I did appreciate how straightforward and frank he was being with me. He said based on his brief examination and the ultrasound, he was 99% certain that it was cancer.

“Is this something I get a second opinion on?” I asked.

“In most cases, I tell my patients to get a second opinion. In your case, we don’t have time,” he replied.

The good news about testicular cancer is that it is very treatable. While 1 in 250 men will develop it, only 1 in 5,000 of them will die from it - roughly 1 in 300,00 of all men. On the whole, it has a 95% five-year survival rate. The bad news is that it is very aggressive. It can quickly spread to other parts of the body and become more complicated. Dr. Dumont said I had been smart and caught it early. Thank goodness I did catch it fast and called immediately. I had experienced no pain in my testicles, unlike Lance Armstrong who had felt pain and still put off getting it checked.

“So what’s next?” I inquired.

“Surgery. We need to remove the mass immediately. We can probably get you in tomorrow.”

source unknown

I went home and talked to Mallory. Up until this point, I had tried to minimize what was going on because I didn’t want to worry Mallory. As I have said, I didn’t want to burden people and generally hold my emotions in. This is fine for when I am frustrated at work or something minor is bothering me, but not so much in this situation. The weekend before, Mallory knew all of the unanswered questions were bothering me, but I refused to open up because I am a man and society says men can’t feel things. On the Sunday morning before my diagnosis, while I was waiting to hear back from the doctor’s office, she had said some minor comment and I exploded. It wasn’t the comment, but the culmination of everything to this point. Once I had calmed down enough, she admitted that she provoked me a bit to get me to open up. Sneaky, but effective. Moving forward, I knew I needed to be open with her, and as I told her about the surgery, I was, even though it was hard for both of us. Being open with others? That would have to wait.Double wow. Not only had I upgraded to cancer patient, I was also further promoted to surgery patient. Honestly, it was a lot to process. I told him I couldn’t commit to surgery tomorrow and needed some time to think. I also wanted to talk to Mallory because I had stupidly told her not to come with me to the appointment. He totally understood, but reiterated I had to move fast.

At this point, I knew surgery was inevitable and necessary but it was still a lot to process. I cried during this time. I don’t cry often. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve cried since I’ve lived in Virginia. It was a lot to handle quickly and it kind of build up.

After talking with Mallory (having decided to go forward with the surgery), I called back and the office was already closed because of course it was. The following morning, they called back and the surgery was scheduled. I would be going under to have the mass removed on Friday, October 28th.

Now that I had more concrete information, it was time to let more people in.

On Thursdays, I am chronicling my journey from discovery to the beginning of chemotherapy. To read through my story up until this point, please click here.


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12600 Hill Country Blvd, Suite R-270 Austin, TX 78738 • info@tcancer.org • 855-390-8231

© 2017 Testicular Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit | Privacy Policy