Happy Father’s Day

My name is Scott Mitchell and I’m currently 39, diagnosed at age 20. I don’t remember the exact name of the cancer but it was a rare form of juvenile TC. The surgeon said that I was the third oldest person in the world to be diagnosed with that cancer.  He also told me that the removed testes had been sent to a government base for testing and he also asked my permission to write a medical journal entry about it as it was so rare. I don’t know if that ever came to fruition or not.

My story begins with feeling a lump in my right testes when I was showering one day in college.  After a week or so, I could feel it getting larger.  I went to a doctor who sent me for tests and it came back negative.  I was only semi-relieved as I knew something wasn’t right.  I waited for another month out of pure denial as it grew bigger. Finally, once it got to almost the size of a half baseball I sought out a specialist that was recommended to me.  I will never forget that appointment, the doctor had me lay on the table pantless with my legs up and spread in a type of stirrups. He examined me,  said “I’ll be right back.” He left and returned with 6 doctors,  male and female to look at me. I remember hearing “wow” and ” oh my” by a few of them. I had never felt so humiliated in my life.  They left and my original doctor told me that I was going to have surgery in two days to remove it. I was scared to death,  I was an athlete in high school and besides a few injuries I had been completely healthy my entire life. How could this be happening to me is all I can remember feeling.  Then came all the emotions; fear, anger, denial, confusion, guilt, embarrassment, worry, despair,  did I do something to deserve this? How am I going to tell my parents? My brother? My friends? I was in a fraternity,  how would they handle it? How am i going to do this?  So many questions and no answers.

The surgery went well, no real issues. I recovered in my apartment and my family and my brothers took such great care of me. They responded so much better than I thought they would, that made everything a little better.

At the point where people were finding out, I was getting mixed reactions,  people were helpful, sad, encouraging,  but the worst was the pity. That was the moment when I decided that cancer wasn’t going to beat me.  Screw your pity.

After healing from that surgery,  I was sent to Albany, NY, which was 4 hours away from home, for a lymph node dissection to ensure it hadn’t spread. I was in the hospital for 8 days recovering and left with 85 staples down my stomach. To this day,  I’ve never been in that much pain.

After healing from that surgery and all the testing I had to have another surgery to remove a lump that was found just below my larynx.  It ended up being an enlarged gland but it was yet another surgery to endure.

After healing from that,  my port catheter was put in and I started chemo.  By the end, I completed 27, full 40 hour weeks of chemo.

My oncologist and all of my nurses were amazing to me and everyone else in the unit.  I still think of the older woman that was in the chair next to me for months, Shirley.  She taught me the most important lesson of all,  to stay positive no matter what the circumstances.  Despite the awfulness of what we were going through,  she was always joking and making everyone laugh. She almost made it enjoyable to be there, almost.

During that year, I insisted that cancer wasnt going to hold me back so I stayed busy.  I worked full time when I wasn’t on the unit as a conference services manager for a local college,  I was a substitute teacher in the high school and coached modified football and girls softball.

Once I finished my last round of chemo,  I had my port removed and 10 days later I was back in college to finish my degree.  Still bald and bloated from the chemo it was quite a transition.

During college,  I met the love of my life and my future wife, Jamie. The only doubt I had remaining was my ability to have my own children.

My wife and I tried for almost two years to become pregnant, which made my doubts that much worse.  Fortunately,  we were able to conceive naturally and now we have our 15 month old son Parker Scott.

What I really want people to know about TC is don’t be embarrassed if you think something isn’t right, get checked out asap. There’s nothing to be embarrassed by or ashamed of. It’s your body and your life, not anyone else’s.

For everyone going through treatment,  a positive mindset is the only way to survive.  We can’t let cancer win,  physically or mentally. For all of the hurt, pain and suffering,  cancer has made me a better person and I appreciate life a lot more and don’t worry about the petty things.