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.