As I laid on the bed (if you could call it a bed) in that medical center room getting an ultrasound on my testes, there were a million thoughts running through my head:
“I’m too young for this.”
“I’m sure it’s probably nothing.”
“This is sure awkward.”
“Many men have done this before me.”
“If it’s cancer how will that change my life?”
“Am I sure only one family member has had cancer?”
The lady (yes, you read correctly) finished, allowed me some privacy to dress back up, and sent me on my way informing me that the doctor would get the results this afternoon and I would probably get a call pretty soon thereafter. Which did indeed happen. “Mr. Jones, I just want to inform you that I looked at the ultrasound and there appears to be a lump in your testicle. I’m going to go ahead and refer you to a urologist.”
Shock, peace, and calm were the first emotions that I noticed as I drove down the road to work as the doctor talked with me on the phone. It’s not like I’m the first guy in the history of the world to have an unusual lump on his testicle. A lump doesn’t mean cancer.
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A little over a month ago I began to feel pain my right testicle, and not just a little pain, quite a bit of pain, some of the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. I went to the doctor and he informed me that it was probably Epididymitis and that I shouldn’t worry too much. The pain went away, and I didn’t think about it again until last week when the pain came back. So I did a self exam and realized that one testicle was larger and harder than it should be. Again to the doctor.
I hate going to the doctor, and the great thing about exercising regularly is that I usually get to avoid the place I dislike so much. Not so with this. As the doctor talked with me he decided it necessary to schedule an ultrasound of my testicle to see what was going on. As you read above he called me on my way to work to inform me that there was a suspicious lump on my right testicle and that it was time for me to see a urologist.
What could I say at that moment? What is there to say? “Thanks,” was about all I could manage to get out as he asked if there were any questions I had for him. I informed him that I was on my way to work and that if I did have any later on I wouldn’t hesitate to call.
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Flash forward to Thursday. My wife and I are sitting on the urologist’s waiting room. They were able to squeeze me in one of the last appointments of the day. Unfortunately, my wife and I ended up waiting 2.5 hours before we were able to see the doctor and I was the last one he saw.
I always wonder what is going through doctors’ heads when they realize they have to give someone bad news. It’s probably similar to when I have to figure out how to confront a church member about something. He asked a ton of questions about the symptoms I was having, had me drop my pants and turn and cough, and then just said it, “You have cancer.”
Those words struck me harder than I expected. Like a speeding train barreling down on me. “You have cancer, and the only way to take care of it is to remove your testicle.” You never expect at 29 to hear those words. You never expect when you exercise regularly and try to eat healthfully that you will ever hear those words. And here I am, hearing those words.
Was I shocked? Yes and no. Julie and I were talking about the possibility of cancer as soon as the ultrasound confirmed there was a suspicious lump on my testicle. So we were aware that the possibility of this happening was very high. But we also held to the hope that this only happens to about 1 in every 270 men. Evidently I am that 1 man out of the 270+ other men that I know.
Am I scared? Yes and no. I know that the chances of me dying because of this are very slim. Only 1 in 5,000 men die from testicular cancer. If caught early (like what is happening to me) I have a 99% chance of surviving for at least 5 years. I also know and believe that when God says it’s time for me to die, that’s when I’ll die. No sooner. Yet, at the same time, I can’t control this. There are risks with the surgery. I see my wife hurting because I’m hurting. Being honest, I am a little scared.
There are so many thoughts going through my head that I can’t even get them all down. “What will people think when they find out that I have had testicular cancer?” “How will I be able to cope with losing a testicle?” “Will I be less of a man because of this?” “Am I going to be able to handle the loss?” “How will this impact my family?” And the list goes on.
I don’t have answers right now, and I may never have all the answers. But I will be using my blog as a way to talk about what is going on. Mostly it is because writing like this helps me cope but, at the same time, if these posts can help someone else through what I’m going through, then I’m happy for that.
I have surgery on Monday, November 18. Pray for me.