Nick Jones

God, Life, Religion

Tag: Testicular

What’s Next

what next

We walked into the doctors office apprehensively, knowing that I would be heading towards Chemotherapy yet not knowing what type, how long, all the side effects, etc… I’m pretty sure we were last appointment of the day because my doctor took a lot of time to walk though all the different options and drawbacks (I’ll be honest here, all options have drawbacks and none of them are great).

The two options I had was radiation or chemotherapy. If I chose chemotherapy I would have two options under that. We quickly bypassed radiation because there have been cases of people getting secondary cancer as soon as 20 years down the road (I would be 50!). That left chemotherapy.

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For testicular cancer there are two main types of chemo that is used (For an in depth look at chemo for testicular cancer click here). First is called BEP (Bleomycin, Etoposide, and Cisplatin), and the second is called EP (Etoposide and Cisplatin). The only difference between the two if you didn’t notice is that BEP has Bleomycin and EP doesn’t have Bleomycin. The reason for that is when Bleomycin is used they are able to reduce the chemo cycle by one. So instead of being four cycles of EP, it’s three cycles of BEP.

But there is a side effect of the BEP that I am unwilling to risk, Bleomycin can damage the lungs, and while on Bleomycin you can die if you’re put on oxygen. There is also the risk of reduced lung capacity due to Bleomycin. As someone who loves to exercise (cycling, triathlons, SCUBA) I am unwilling to take that risk because I want to continue to do those things at my full capacity.

There are side effects of EP that I’m not looking forward to either: Hearing loss, numbing or tingling sensation in hands and feet, kidney damage, hair loss, sterility, and many more. None of the options are a walk in the park. But as my wife and I talked with my doctor and started looking at the future we kept coming to one option that seemed to work best for me.

We chose to do the four cycles of EP. The way the cycle works is that for one week, Monday through Friday, I get the medicine every day for about 6 hours. Then I have two weeks to recover. On the third week I go through the same process, Monday through Friday, six hours of getting medicine. It’s going to be rough, and I’m not looking forward to it. The hardest part is not knowing how I’m going to respond to the treatment. Some guys take it well (My doctor said drunks do very well with chemo because for some reason their livers can handle it better than most). Some guys end up flat on their back and don’t do very well. It will be interesting to see what happens. But I am thankful for all the encouraging words I’ve been getting on Facebook, twitter, and here on my blog. I do covet your prayers.

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One things that I’d like to clear up before I end this post, I’ve been asked a few times why I didn’t do chemo right after the orchiectomy. There are several reasons. First, we believed that we had gotten the cancer. We believed that it had been contained to the testicle. There was no evidence that it spread, so observation seemed to be the best course.

Secondly, radiation and chemotherapy have a side effect that would impact my family, possible sterility. With radiation it’s pretty much localized near that area and it could cause sterility. With chemo the risk is higher. The chemicals used can cause sterility. Because my wife and I wanted to have a child we opted to do observation so that we could have that option available to us. During these six months we were indeed able to conceive and my wife is pregnant with a girl. Praise the Lord for that.

Thank you again for all your prayers and support. As always, my purpose is blogging this adventure is to help bring awareness to Testicular Cancer, and be an opportunity for other men who may be struggling with the same feelings know that they aren’t alone. Many men have gone before, many men will go after. But we’re a tight knit community. We understand and I am wiling to answer any questions that you have.

Blessings!

My Cancer is Back

cancer is back

“You’re blood work looks good, but your CT doesn’t look so good.” That was not what I wanted to hear after being told six months ago that I was cured. I went into the meeting with my oncologist in high spirit, and left dazed and confused. “What is going on?” I thought to myself as my son and I headed out to the car after the appointment. Needless to say I’ve spent much time in prayer about this the last couple days.

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The result of the CT scan indicated that I have an enlarged Retroperitoneal Lymph Node. That particular lymph node is located behind all the major organs and belly. If Testicular Cancer isn’t caught in time it spreads first along the lymph nodes. That is why I was scheduled to have a CT Scan every 6 months, to make sure everything looked good. If nothing is done then the cancer will spread from the lymph nodes to the lungs, then the liver, and then the brain. So the doctor ordered a chest x-ray which I will be getting early this afternoon.

After explaining to me what exactly was happening, my oncologist told me that he had consulted with an expert in the field here in Oregon and the suggestion is that I have a Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection (RPLND), aka very invasive surgery. This time instead of making a small incision to take the testicle out, they will be making a large incision, from the bottom of my sternum to just below the belly button, to reach back behind all the major organs and cut out the lymph node.

Because I was in shock with the news the only thing I could really do is nod and listen. I hadn’t really continued my research as to what would happen if the cancer spread because I was told that I was cured. When I got home I contacted Mike Craycraft from the Testicular Cancer Society to let him know (If you don’t remember who he is, click here). Minutes after I sent the message he replied stating that I needed to look into other options. Evidently the National Comprehensive Cancer Network has guidelines for times such as this. And with a Stage II Seminoma the guidelines state that I should proceed with Chemotherapy first. It is much more common that the RPLND is performed on someone with a Non-Seminoma.

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After giving my doctor a call (twice), he finally called back this morning. He had received a call from the doctor who would be performing the RPLND questioning the need of the surgery since it’s not usually done that way. So my doctor said that we would be going with Chemotherapy and that we needed to meet today to talk about that. I will give an update tomorrow about that conversation.

So we’ll be meeting later this afternoon to discuss Chemotherapy. The lesson learned, if you’re going through this you need to be your own advocate. Do the research (Testicular Cancer SocietyTesticular Cancer Resource Center are two great places to start), don’t be afraid to call out what you’re uncomfortable with. Don’t be afraid to reach out and contact people who have gone through it before. It’s your health and your life.

Cancer – 3 Month Checkup

checkup

Last Wednesday was my three month checkup. It’s actually been four months since my surgery, but three months since I met with the oncologist. As you can tell by the picture the news is good, and I have a lot more hair!

I entered the oncologist’s office, got weighed, blood pressure, the whole works (didn’t have to pee in in a cup this time) and waited for the doctor to come in and talk with me. He came in and after the pleasantries he said, “Well your blood work looks good, nice and boring.” We like boring by the way.

Boring evidently means good things in the blood world. It means my cancer markers are down, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of reoccurrence of the cancer. He then proceeded to check my breathing, my lymph nodes, and my other testicle. And after all that he told me that I’m looking very good. This is a good thing because I’ve got a triathlon coming up soon and I really don’t want to lose any time for training.

Next step, in another three months more blood work and a CT Scan. Yay, barium…

Thanks for all the prayers sent my way. I really appreciate them.

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