The Beginning With Testicular Cancer – An Unforgettable Journey

Testicular Cancer Uncertainty

The Beginning – Testicular Cancer

The back story – Back in April I got news from my brother they had found a mass by his heart. I was so shocked and saddened to hear this news. I was so worried for my brother and started praying for him and his family to get through this difficult time. It was a roller coaster ride from there getting new information from my brother waiting and wondering what was going on. At the time I could have only imagined what it would be like being on the receiving end of this type of a diagnoses like that.

Both Paul Zepernick and I watched our dad die of cancer young. I’m not sure about him, but this has always haunted me through the years. I have always wondered if I’d be next in line to get cancer. I remember always thinking if I could get past 44 years old I was golden! This was the age my dad passed away from cancer of the kidney.

I know it is painful to wait around and let your mind wonder while you’re waiting for the final diagnoses. My brother Paul is strong and got through the terrible news of his CT scan results of his abdomen. Paul originally went into a walk in clinic due to some pain in which they thought was some sort of hernia. The last thing anybody thinks is that it is cancer unless it is a clear cut case.

The pain got worse each week that went by. Paul and I work together and one morning on our video call he was in lot of pain. We told him to leave the meeting and go to the hospital. This is where his journey began and mine would also soon begin shortly after.

The doctors at the hospital identified a mass which they later found to be his lymphnodes which had swelled up considerably. They did a biopsy and learned the diagnoses was a sonoma from testicular cancer. I didn’t know they were able to identify this from a biopsy.

From my research this was one of the most treatable cancers, even at advanced stages. During this time I myself was having dull aches in my left testicle. I had also woken up one morning with my shirt all sweaty. The signs were eerily similar to what Paul had experienced. Once I learned of my brother Paul’s diagnoses I quickly scheduled an appointment with my primary care physician for a physical.

I went in to my primary care physician and had gotten checked over. The scary thing is that I had forgotten to mention the testicular pain on my first visit. A few days later I went ahead and called back to schedule for a physical.

He didn’t notice anything wrong with me during this appointment. He ordered some blood labs and all came back ok. When I was in there I had forgotten to mention my testicular aching which had been intermittent.

Thank goodness I scheduled my second appointment. I went back into my primary care physician and he did a physical. This time I dropped my drawers and he felt everything which felt normal to him. I mentioned my brother Paul had an intratesticular¬†lesion that appeared to be “burnt out” when they did his ultrasound.

After I mentioned this to my doctor he went ahead and scheduled me an ultrasound for “piece of mind” (thank goodness!). A few days later I went to my appointment for the ultrasound and I couldn’t help but notice the technician doing the ultrasound had a glazed, puzzled look on her face when she got to my left testicle.

I know they’re not allowed to tell you anything but she also wasn’t really re-assuring to me either. I could tell there was something wrong but she wouldn’t say. A day after that appointment I got a call from my primary care physician’s office saying they had discovered 3 intratesticular solid masses in my left testicle. These were small with the largest one being only 1.3cm.

Here is the report from the Ultrasound

The Ultrasound Report and Possible Testicular Cancer

LEFT:

The left testicle measures 4.7 cm in length, 2.4 cm AP, and 3.4 cm transverse. There are scattered microcalcifications throughout the left testicle. There are 3 solid masses in the left testicle., concerning for neoplasm. A solid mass inferiorly and laterally measures 1.2 x 0.7 x 0.7 cm. A 2nd solid mass inferiorly and laterally measures 0.8 x 0.5 x 0.8 cm. The 3rd mass in the mid left testicle medially measures 0.4 x 0.3 x 0.4 cm.

The left epididymal head measures 0.9 x 1.2 x 1.4 and is within normal limits in appearance. Vascularity is grossly normal on color doppler.

No left hydrocele or varicocele.

Things Start To Move Rather Quickly From Here…

I was quickly referred to a urologist. I had so many questions, and at this point, was filled with lots of anxiety. Everything I’ve read online says that there’s a 95% chance I have cancer. If any solid mass is found in or on testicle it is presumed to be malignant until proven otherwise.

Walking into my urologist appointment I was nervous, had anxiety, and of course had lots of questions.  All the problems I was faced with before seemed very small comparatively speaking at this point. All my other problems evaporated quickly and I realized how much life itself meant to me and how much was taken for granted.

When we got into the office I reached my sweaty hand into my wallet and slid the receptionist my insurance card. After paying my $80 copay I quietly slid into a chair and patiently waited for my name to be called. I was a little late but they were still able to fit me in.

The time seemed to pass by incredible slow. Finally, they called me back. The first thing I had to do was urinate into a cup. I’m not sure what they were looking for exactly but everything checked out with it.

I was sent into a room waiting for the doctor to arrive. The Dr finally came into the room, asked me a few questions, then asked me why I was there. I was puzzled. I told him my primary care physician should have sent over my imaging (which they didn’t). They only sent him a report.

The Dr quickly got up and left the room for a few minutes to look at this report. He came back after reading the report and told me to drop my drawers. He gave a quick feel and noted the masses in there weren’t palpable. He then prescribed me 1000MG per day of Cipro for two weeks along with an anti inflammation med.

The Dr said he was going to be at the hospital the next day and look at the imaging. At the time I had felt like the Cipro was just a waste of time. I asked him if he’d call me after he looked at the imaging to possibly be a little more definitive on me taking antibiotics for two weeks. He insisted that even after looking at the imaging he’d still have me take them.

Even More Anxiety Ensues

At this point I am going to trust what my doctor tells me and hope for the best. Shortly after leaving the Dr’s office I called in my RX to a local CVS. After taking Cipro for two weeks I feel like it messed me up a little. After taking Cipro for two weeks I called and scheduled another ultrasound.

I think I had a bad reaction to the Cipro. After a few days on it my stomach didn’t feel right at all. I started to feel all sorts of weirdness and my abdominal muscles felt sore. This was kind of scare because some of these symptoms could have been related to the testicular cancer so I was worried it may have spread. I still have some residual symptoms today that seem to be fading away as each day passes.

My Second Ultrasound

After two weeks of being on antibiotics it was finally time to call and setup my second ultrasound. They got me in pretty quickly. During my ultrasound the tech again, really wouldn’t say much of anything. I know it’s their job but it’s so hard to keep in the unknown until your doctor read it off.

After the ultrasound the tech gave me a hug. I’m not sure if I felt good about that hug or what. I almost felt like that was the hug of “you’re about to embark upon a new journey, good luck to you” kind of hug. At least that’s what it felt like.

That same week I got a call from my urologist. He told me the ultrasound showed there was no difference in tumor sizes so we were going to schedule a testicular exploration. This is where he physically takes the testicle out and examines it before opting to remove it.

Up to this point I didn’t really know what to expect. After the time that went by from this point on I had already prepped myself that I had testicular cancer. It is something that is hard to do. You never imagine that you’d be the one to get cancer. Still to this day it sounds weird when I say it.

During the week up to my surgery I was very nervous and filled with anxiety. At this point I wasn’t really scared of the surgery itself but of the findings on the pathology report. There are some rare types of testicular cancer which have a very poor prognoses. I knew I was like 95-98% sure I had testicular cancer according to the statistics, but was definitely hoping it was a more treatable type.

My next blog post I’ll blog about the surgery, pathology and healing. Stay tuned.