Jonathan . 42 . England
In 2004 I was 29 and I found a lump the size of an M&M on my testicle during a self-examination, so I panicked, stressed for a while and went to the hospital where the A&E doctor diagnosed it as a epididymal cyst and not to worry about it and if it hadn’t gone away to go and see my GP. So reassured, I left, and three months later when it hadn’t gone and I saw my GP his first words were “that’s cancer” and as it turns out it was and in that time it had spread from my testicle to my lymph and lungs, in fact I had 32 tumours by that point. Like most of the guys on here I had an Orchidectomy then the chemotherapy, it was BEP, I had 12 weeks (4x3 week cycles) and I was in remission on August 26th 2004.
I was bald, I’d lost 12kg of lean muscle but I was in remission and I started to rebuild my life and all went well for a few years
Then in 2007 during a regular scan a mass was discovered in my chest that was a recurrence of the cancer. This time it was a baseball sized Rhabdomyosarcoma attached to my lung so I had a lateral thoracotomy to remove that and on June 6th 2007 I was in remission again.
Rebuilding my life was harder this time, I was mentally more battered but physically still strong but rebuild I did and I grew stronger and more resilient as the years passed
In 2012 my blood tumour markers (AFP) started to increase again, this led to a positive diagnosis of cancer but with no source of the tumour so I had to wait until 2013 for the bastard to show and this time it was in the lymph glands behind my stomach. That was over a year of knowing I had cancer again for the third time but no idea where. Then when it presented I had an RPLND to remove it and all the lymph from my groin got my kidney. By now I’ve lost track of my remission dates as they all blur into one. I struggled post operatively after this one. The wound got infected a couple of times and I had a significant post-operative bleed which caused a number of problems. But rehabilitation continued, physically I was able to get back to somewhere where I was but mentally more difficulty with depression and anxiety, I could still function but I was not right and was making some self-destructive choices. But hey I was cancer free so that was exciting but I was never able to relax as I just felt that this wasn’t the end. Then in 2016 my AFP levels started to rise again and a tumour presented itself in the lymph nodes just above where the last lot had been removed and so I had another RPLND, they removed it and all the lymph nodes around it. And BOOM remission again. So 2017 and I didn’t even make a year this time before my AFP levels started to increase. During the regular scans to try and find the cancer my PET scan showed an uptake in my bowel which as it turned out was a polyp but not a benign one (oh no) so they removed that cancer (yes you read that correctly I got cancer whilst I had cancer) Into 2018 and my AFP level is now in the thousands and I started another 12 weeks of chemotherapy – and because I had already had BEP it had to be mixed up, welcome to TIP protocol chemotherapy.
Now that’s a whole new level of uncomfortable to what I remembered from 2004, sickness, diarrhea, fatigue that is just indescribable but worth it if it works.
The AFP levels dropped consistently but stopped at a still cancerous level and then started to double weekly. The tumour was in my kidney and was now going gangbusters, I finished chemo on March 17th and had surgery to remove my kidney on May 14th they had to remove my spleen too as it wouldn’t stop bleeding and I lost 4 pints of blood. So here I am, 6 cancers and 14 years later. What have I learned: • Check yourself • If you find something seek expert medical advice immediately Cancer sucks • Treatment sucks but it is better than being dead (may seem obvious but I needed to remind myself that) • Cancer doesn’t build character it reveals it • Life goes on what you choose to do with it is on you but own your carrot. You’ve had cancer that doesn’t change, own it and live your life • A healthy diet and exercise regimen may not stop you getting cancer but it will make you better able to deal with it • A sense of humor and the right mental attitude helps • If you think its hard for you its even harder for the ones that love you