10 Year Cancerversary

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. Continue reading “10 Year Cancerversary”

Seven years and counting

Seven years ago today, I was an emotional wreck. I knew something was wrong. The thing I had dreaded and feared since my dad got sick and died a few years before was now a reality.

I didn’t have an official diagnosis yet, but I knew. A few weeks prior I had been at the Y, really pushing myself. What felt like a good workout quickly turned into a severe pain in my lower abdomen. As I was poking around trying to figure out what was wrong, my hand grazed something hard that shouldn’t be there. I immediately recognized what it was, but didn’t want to admit it to myself.

Cancer.

It took a couple of weeks of sleepless nights before I made an appointment to see the doctor. Even then, I was too afraid to bring it up, instead asking for something to help with my insomnia.

Finally, the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend, it came to a head. I could no longer ignore it – I either had to face the truth, or it would kill me.

I don’t generally believe God speaks to us in an audible voice – at least I’ve never experienced that. But as I prepared to call my mom to let her know what was going on, I felt His presence in a way I haven’t before or since. If I could put words to that presence, it would be “Don’t worry – I am with you. We will get through this together.”

I won’t go through the whole ordeal again, as I’ve blogged extensively about it in the past. But I feel compelled to document where I am around my cancer anniversary every year. While there are other days I could celebrate – the last day of chemo, the first day my tumor markers dropped to the normal zone, the day I was given the all-clear by the oncologist – I choose to celebrate the anniversary of my diagnosis. It’s the day that changed my life permanently – I became a cancer patient, and eventually a cancer survivor.

Going through a serious illness has a way of bringing your life in laser-sharp focus. The week after my first round of chemo, I was at a neighbor’s pool (oblivious to the fact that chemo makes you much more likely to get sunburned… but I digress). As I was trying to relax and ignore the waves of nausea and heartburn, I was thinking about my life and what I wanted out of it. I always wanted to be a husband and a father, but at that moment it became my primary goal. As I am realizing more and more every day, life is short. But it’s too long to go through alone.

I think back to that day, and look at where I am now. Seven years later, I’m a couple of weeks away from celebrating my first Father’s Day. I am blessed with two of the most amazing girls one could ask for – my wonderful wife and my adorable daughter.

Life is good.

In-Vitro: Lucky 21

In early 2007, Emily and I were thrilled to discover that she was pregnant.  It was particularly unexpected, because although we had been trying for a few months, the odds of it happening naturally were slim due to my chemo in 2003.

Sadly our little “Peppercorn” didn’t make it past the eighth week in the womb.  So after a few more months, we decided to start fertility treatments.  A year’s worth of IUIs were unsuccessful, so at the beginning of the summer we started IVF – In-Vitro Fertilization – and the real fun began.

Six years ago I was needle-phobic like you wouldn’t believe.  I had often thought to myself that given the choice between dying from cancer and going through chemotherapy, I would pick the former option.  Little did I know that would be stuck dozens of times myself, and that I would actually end up giving shots to my wife.  But here we are, some 40+ injections later.  At the beginning of July Emily started on Lupron (which halts the ovulation process), and a week later Follistim (which hyper-stimulates the ovaries),  all in an attempt to create as many eggs as possible for fertilization. With regular blood tests, she was getting stuck 3 and 4 times a day.  Even with my newly-developed tolerance of needles, if the roles were reversed, we would be adopting 🙂  She’s a stud.

Anyway, yesterday was retrieval day – we went to the fertility center and they removed all the developing eggs – all 21 of them!  The average number is between 12 and 15, so to have that many was a big relief.  A call this morning revealed that 19 eggs matured, and of those, 13 were successfully fertilized.  Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll have 13 embryos to transplant, as some will not survive.  But on Tuesday we will implant two or three strong ones and hopefully there will be a few more that we can put in cryo-storage for implantation at a later date.

At which point will begin the longest two weeks of our lives as we wait to see if Emily is pregnant again…

My Cancer…

has been in remission for five years!  I did have a bit of a scare a month ago and ended up back at the oncologist on June 16 – five years to the day that I originally started chemo.  But it was a false alarm and I am still healthy as a horse.

I would’ve written something about it sooner, but I have been negligent in my blogging duties.  This article at NPR provided the necessary kick in the rear:

Purdue researchers develop technology to detect cancer by scanning surface veins

Of course, they discover this *after* I was given a clean bill of health… now if they could just figure out a way to give chemo without needles.

A new technology for cancer detection that eliminates the need for drawing blood has been developed by Purdue University researchers.

Researchers from Purdue’s Cancer Center, Department of Chemistry and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering collaborated with cancer and biotechnology experts from the Mayo Clinic to develop technology to detect tumor cells within the human body. By shining a laser on surface veins, such as those on the wrist and inside the cheek, researchers are able to reveal and count circulating tumor cells.

Read more…

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