Zak Pendleton's Story
There I was on May 10, 2016 in a routine physical exam. My real intention behind the appointment was just to get it out of the way so I could keep a discount on my monthly health insurance premium.During the appointment, I wondered why we even had to go through the interrogation about my health. “I’m healthy” I thought to myself. I was preparing to do a 100-mile cycling ride in four days and for the most part felt ready to go. “Anyone who can ride 100 miles on their bike doesn’t have to worry about a medical exam.” I told myself.Then, the physician assistant asked me if I did self-exams. “Um, well, yeah, I do. I mean I’ve looked at myself and felt down there.” I bumbled. No problems here, I reassured myself in my mind. Nonetheless, we proceeded to do an exam. For as long as I remember, I've had one testicle smaller than the other. The physician assistant mentioned there could be reasons for the size difference. They might have to do a minor surgery and the testicle may even grow back to the same size as the other one. So, we scheduled to have an ultrasound done to see what the issues could be.Three days later, I had an ultrasound. Nearly an hour after, a call came. It was my physician assistant telling me that the ultrasound staff had called him quickly after I left. He explained they had noticed a mass. A mass? I thought. What kind of a mass? Then, he said that word. Cancer. “This could be cancer”. He scheduled an appointment with the urology clinic to confirm things.The thoughts came racing in. Am I going to lose my hair? Will I have kids? What does testicular cancer even mean? And, what does it mean for me?The urology appointment included a blood test for elevated tumor markers and a chest x-ray. Both came back negative. Surgery was the next step to remove the testicle.On July 7, 2016 an inguinal orchiectomy was performed and that smaller traitor of a right testicle was removed. After a couple of weeks I was back doing things I enjoyed doing to stay fit.I was and am lucky and blessed. The cancer does not appear to have spread to anywhere else in my body. I’m in Surveillance. This involves blood tests, chest x-rays, and CT scans on a prescribed schedule to monitor if any cancer shows up. A benefit for me was the support around me. Family, especially my Mom, friends, church leaders, and co-workers have all been supportive and have helped me. Having this support and the understanding that I’ve been blessed with catching things early, I’ve felt a need and desire to be an advocate for those with cancer and to be an advocate for awareness of about cancer, especially types of cancer that can affect males. I was fortunate to discover the issue before it became anything worse and that is why I will be supporting educational efforts to help others do the same. I plan to utilize the resources of the Testicular Cancer Foundation to educate others. My hope is to help others catch things early like I have.