10 years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. My greatest fear come to life.
I found the lump three weeks earlier, but the mind is a funny thing. I rationally knew it wouldn’t get better and would eventually kill me, but I still couldn’t force myself to do what needed to be done.
Finally, on May 22 I had enough and the following morning an ultrasound confirmed it – testicular cancer. Within a couple of hours I was on the surgery table, and the following morning I was at my mom’s house recuperating. Two weeks later the chemotherapy started. By mid-September I was done, and blood tests showed there was no more cancer in my system.
All in all, it was relatively easy as far as cancer goes. A fairly straightforward chemo protocol with a 95% 5-year survival rate is pretty amazing, really. Yeah, the needles were far from fun. The exhaustion starting at day three of my chemo only got progressively worse over the summer, and it took a full year before I started feeling back to normal. While I never threw up, the terrible heartburn, complete inability to enjoy food, and waves of illness so bad that it made dying seem like not the worst possible scenario more than made up for it.
Over the long term, the physical aspect of cancer pales in comparison to the emotional toll has taken. I no longer have to worry about nausea or lack of feeling in my hands and feet, but the scars it leaves on you mentally never really go away. The one piece of advice I would give to anyone who is in the midst of cancer treatment would be to find a good therapist. Whether it’s terminal or you have a good prognosis like me, I still think it’s a valuable part of treatment that gets overlooked. But those lingering fears and anxieties do slowly subside over time.
I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. On one hand, it doesn’t seem like much time has passed at all. But I’ve been a cancer survivor for a quarter of my life now, and a lot has happened. A year after my treatment, I met my wife, and we will be celebrating our 8th anniversary in December. After years of infertility struggles due to chemo, we now have two amazing children – one biological, one adopted. They are both miracles in their own right. My sister got married. My brother and his wife had three children of their own. I married into a gaggle of nieces, nephews and in-laws. I’ve rediscovered my love of music and played more gigs in the past 4 years than the previous 20 combined. I’ve prospered in my job despite a poor economy, and we have a comfortable life. God has been good to us.
The past 10 years have been a roller coaster, to be sure. I don’t know what the next 10 hold, but hopefully on May 23, 2023 I’ll be around to celebrate my 20th Cancerversary.