Monday, November 24, 2014

The "C" Word

Cancer.  It's a word that no one wants their name associated with.  I'm no different.  That word frankly scares the daylights out of me.  Primarily because of how cancer ravaged my grandfather's body in the final months, leaving him a shell of the gentle giant that I remember so fondly some 30 years later.

In 2011, my name and cancer became linked for the first time.  I was having some pain in my left testicle, and although my doc didn't detect anything, she ordered an ultrasound. The idea of having an ultrasound performed on my testicles was...well...embarrassing.  I mean, how many men do you know who have had an ultrasound of their testicles?  That ultrasound revealed nothing on the left side (where the pain was), but there was a mass on the right.  Testicular cancer was the term tossed around by the Oncologist.  I was scared.

Surgery was scheduled, the mass was removed, and the testicle was saved.  And to my great relief, the mass proved to be benign.  No cancer.  Whew!

Since that scare, I have been more sensitive to the topic of testicular cancer.  I have been sure to check myself regularly, even though at almost 47 years old, I am outside of the typical age range for guys to discover they have testicular cancer.  Last year I even grew my beard out in support of No Shave November...because Matt Lauer (from the Today show) told me to.  This year they even put my mug on screen as the Today show kicked off this year's No Shave November campaign.

Just a week earlier I'd woken up on a Sunday morning with that familiar pain in my left testicle.  I didn't give it much thought that day, thinking perhaps the pain would subside as the day passed.  No such luck.  More pain on Monday...and Tuesday too.  I called my doc on that Tuesday morning and knowing my history, he told me to come in right away. Another ultrasound was done.  Another mass was found.  This year, No Shave November would be personal.

The tumor was in the left testicle, and like last time the game plan going into the surgery was simple:  Remove the tumor...have pathology determine if it is benign or malignant.  If the tumor is benign, the tumor comes out and the testicle is saved.  If the tumor is malignant, the testicle gets removed.  I underwent surgery on last Thursday...and I woke up from that surgery with only one testicle.

In the coming days, as the drugs wear off and I am capable of having an intelligent and lucid conversation, I plan to find out much more about what's the pathologist's report shows, what my doc's care plan is as we move forward, etc.

And as soon as possible, I plan to start running again.  

See, among other things, I am a runner.  A very slow runner to be sure, but a runner nonetheless.  While I take great pride in plodding along in the occasional 5K or 10K, I have never run a 1/2 marathon or full marathon.  In 2015 I intend to do both.  

This blog will serve not only as a means of sharing my personal story regarding a very important men's health issue, but also a means of sharing my ups and downs as a runner who struggles with motivation, a hatred of cold weather running, slowing down with age, finding time to train, proper name it.

If you follow me here, I hope you will find humor, insight, motivation, and a sprinkling of inspiration.  My words may not help you set a PR in your next race, but maybe they'll motivate you to get off the couch and lace 'em up for a few laps around the block.  

In closing this first post...if you never get anything else out of this blog, please get this:  Men...listen to your body.  If you think something is wrong, see your doc.  I am so thankful I did.