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#MensHealthWeek Survivor Story – Mike Stapleton

I am an Advanced EMT for Beaufort County EMS. I am a husband and Father of three ages 6,4,and 2. I had just accepted the job and preparing to move my family from Augusta, GA to Beaufort, SC. I started noticing some pain while I began the new job. I figured since I’m constantly bending, pulling, lifting, I just pulled something. Moving day came and we loaded the truck and unloaded it without any problems. The next day, I could barely walk. “Righty” was so swollen and painful that I had to sit in the bathtub with ice. A couple of days went by and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went to see a doctor.During the exam he stated that I need to go in to the hospital for an emergency ultrasound, labs, and CT. By this point I knew what it was. I had to make an appointment with a urologist and surprisingly they wanted to see me the next day. Two days after that appointment, I was going into surgery for a right radical Orchiectomy. My CT came back clear and we thought that it was over. I was healing from surgery and had made a follow up with an oncologist. At that appointment he decided for a baseline PET scan. I went in for the scan a few days later. The second round of bad news came shortly after that. The PET scan showed a cancerous lymph node in my abdomen resting near my aorta. I went into surgery to remove that lymph node after a failed needle guided CT biopsy. After surgery, I went in for another surgery to place my port. I can remember the first few days of having the port in place. My daughter was sitting with me and accidentally hit it. It hurt so bad I saw stars. I went in for a pre chemo evaluation and eventually started EPx4.My first round started as planned. I had severe ringing in my ears from day one of treatment. I felt sick, weak, and tired. It was close to my daughters 1st birthday and we had a lot of family and friends down. That’s when the fever hit. It was a weekend and my oncologist was not in office. I ended up going to the ER. The doctors told me that I was critically neutropenic and had sepsis. My WBC was so low that I needed constant IV antibiotics. I spent 5 nights in PCU (one step below ICU). After being discharged I continued to fight through my chemo regiment.The fight was difficult and I wanted to stop every day. My wife and kids stood by my side and made me fight even harder. I have never felt that bad in my life. After finishing chemo, I started back a month later working on the ambulance and saving lives. A month after that I was told that there is no evidence of disease and that I’m in remission. This month marks my 1 year mark. I go in for a PET, CT, and labs July 6th. I continue to try and spread the word of early detection and TC throughout our EMS/Fire and police community. I am also active in groups such as TCC.

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