Testicular Cancer: The Hardest Kick in the Balls

By the ripe age of 29, I had suffered every hit to the groin imaginable. Fists, feet, randomly thrown objects, baseballs, tennis balls, soccer balls. I had fallen on my man parts, hit them on corners at work, and yes, even zipped them up once. Come on dudes, everyone can admit to this a least once, right? I had also had my two wild berries subjected to x-rays, lead, and numerous cleaning chemicals used in the food-service business, that are known to affect the reproductive organs. By the age of 29, it was amazing that I wasn’t already sterile.

September 11, 2012

As if the date wasn’t haunting enough as it is, this day would come to be doubly infamous to myself and my family. Back up about 4 months prior to this date when I first noticed swelling in my left testicle. Google the symptoms and possible outcomes for swollen testicle and you’ll find a plethora of causes. At the time, I just thought it was something random as I was in no pain, and figured it would eventually go away on its own. To some degree, the swelling would go down, then come back. During that time I was checked out in the ER for chest pain. Both times, I was told that the x-rays found infiltrates, suggesting I was developing the early stages of emphysema. At this point in my life, I was smoking almost 2 packs a day. Four months later, I would start having pain in my back on that same side. I also started noticing a dull pain in that testicle. Putting together the rising symptoms, including massive weight loss over those few months, the time came to finally go see a doctor.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate doctors. I try my best to avoid them at all cost. So for me to make the decision to see one, something had to really be bothering me. On the way to the ER that morning I started having a very unsettling feeling come over me. I told my wife on the drive over that I was pretty scared and there was a chance I might be leaving that hospital with one less testicle. Little did I know how right I would be.

Immediately after the physical examination of the affected man bits, I was sent for an ultrasound. I knew by the faces of the technicians that things were starting to go very sour for me that day. Stone faced and silent as they snapped picture after picture, and even gasped at times. Right after the ultrasound, I was sent for a CT scan. I wasn’t explained why, but at that point, they didn’t have to. I knew something was seriously wrong. My wife had left to go pick the kids up from school so I returned from the CT to an empty ER holding room. Ten minutes later, I would receive the hardest kick in the balls I had ever had in my life.

“Mr. Taylor, is your wife here?” the doctor asked. After explaining she was away to pick the kids up, the doctor continued. “I wish she was here, but I can’t wait a single moment to tell you. The ultrasound found a large mass in the left testicle. The CT confirmed that you also have numerous masses in your abdomen, the lymph nodes in the left leg and groin, and covering your lungs. Mr. Taylor, I cannot give you a specific diagnosis or prognosis, but in my professional opinion, you need to notify your family as soon as possible, and be prepared for the worst. Hope for the best, fight for the best, but be prepared.” I sat there in a stunned silence, unable to cry, unable to blink. I asked in a hushed voice, “You’re telling me it’s cancer?” The doctor choked up a bit, wiped a tear from her eye, and said “I can’t tell you what kind, but yes, it’s cancer.”

At 29 years old, I had seen, heard, and done a lot of things. Some of which rocked me to my core, some of which may have helped me prepare for rough roads I would face in the future. But nothing, nothing I had ever experienced in my life before, could have prepared me for this. As Herbie Mann once said: “When you get cancer, it’s like really time to look at what your life was and is, and I decided that everything I have done so far is not as important as what I’m going to do now.”  How true that is. Everything I had faced in my past was nothing compared to this. The official diagnosis I received: Stage IIIb testicular cancer.

What would follow would be the most trying 4 months of my life. Three surgeries, 52 bags of chemotherapy medicine, too many medicines to count, a fight against nearly fatal blood clots, and over a year of recovery. Today, I proudly stand 9 months in remission. The only thing that cancer managed to steal from me was my left testicle, and the awesome beard I had at the time. The hardest kick in the balls I ever received is now an experience that will last a lifetime. It is one that has changed my life and the life of my family forever. But from the hurt we rose. We fought together, we won together. And we stand stronger together now.

 

**For more information about testicular cancer, including signs, symptoms, and how to self-exam, please visit the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation**

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The Beginning
About The Geeky Nimrod

Husband, Father, Thinker, Geek, Mobile Tech Enthusiast, Writer. I am the one who.... Knocks politely and possibly not even loud enough for you to hear. Just another dude on the internet.

By Original author: Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) (Manual reconstruction by Denelson83) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

  1. Hi John,

    What a riveting post! I was so relieved to reach the end and learn of the remission, as stories having to do with cancer often do not end well.

    I’m like you when it comes to going to the doctor. It’s not a practice that I would suggest, as early detection can make all of the difference. Still, I almost never went to a doctor during the 30-odd years that I was employed and had insurance. Now that I’m on my own and freelancing, I can’t afford insurance yet. so every minor abnormality that I detect scares the bejesus out of me.

    Beards are awesome. I wore one throughout my 20’s and 30’s. I can’t grow one anymore, though. Too itchy.

    Be well.

    • Thank you sir. I still hate going to the hospital where all this went down at, but I no longer have that hatred for going to the doctor. In fact, a few months after I entered remission, I was invited to speak to a group of department leaders for MSHA, the health group that owned the hospital. I started my speech off with “I used to HATE going to the doctor lol”.

      I didn’t have insurance when this started. For granted, I could have gone to the ER earlier than I did, but in everything, I tried to take care of myself the best I could. Not a mistake I will make again!

      And yes, beards are awesome. I’m glad mine has started growing back now!

      Thanks for checking out the post!

  2. David Stanley says:

    Perfect, John. Just damn solid perfect. Thank-you.

  3. You were one of the first dad bloggers I kept a close eye on when I started doing this thing. I’ve always liked your writing, your personality and wanted to keep an eye on what you were doing as one of my role models in the blogging world. I remember seeing your tweets that day about hating going to the doctor and then the tweets about your diagnosis. I could barely believe my eyes and I can’t even imagine what you and your family went through that day and the months following.

    I’m thankful for your health and that your kids still have both parents in their lives. I’m humbled to now share the same pages as you as you have been an inspiration for me from day 1, first in writing, now in strength, courage, and perseverance.

    • You know, I wish I hadn’t deleted that Twitter account so I could go back and see the tweets. I remember having my social media statuses waiting to be sent, while awaiting confirmation that my extended family had been told. I knew I would be relying on the online community for emotional support and strength.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Never thought of myself as that big of a deal with blogging lol. But thank you for your kindness and genuine feelings. Makes me smile and know that perhaps, just maybe, I am doing some things right after all.

  4. Irishryno says:

    Hi John,

    The hardest kick in the balls……. Aptly coined and doubled over as a result of such a feeling. My name is Ryan, and I have been fighting within the confines of my cranium on how to wrap my head around the thought….. The thought of having cancer at 29 years young! I will be turning 30 in less than a month, and life was going well! So well in fact, that life felt it grand to give me a challenging early birthday present. Testicular Cancer. I still do not know the extent nor the prognosis for this, as the ultrasound just discovered it this past Friday. My CT scan is tomorrow, and I have since been consuming every waking hour researching and reading just about anything I can to begin educating myself on the long road ahead.
    After hours of searching and reading articles, some good, some bad, I came upon your blog. It was refreshing to see someone my age who has direct experience with this life hurdle. The simple thought of knowing you have overcome, is a bright thought among the many unanswered questions I have. What compounds these thoughts even more, is I am not married as of yet and do not have any children. The thought of this pending battle disrupting that is overwhelming, but for now, I am focused on the here and now.
    I have yet to express this with anyone who is close to me, as I don’t want the sympathy or distraction of disrupting others with this, at least for now. So, I am taking to social media to express my thoughts, with the hope that someone would be able to answer the one question I currently have……. How do I be prepared for what’s next?

    Thanks for a forum to voice my opinions,

    Ryan

  5. Chris Giddens says:

    I just got the all clear after my kick in the junk. It was a big punch and the post chemo RPLND just rounded out the fun. Always good to know you’re not alone.

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