September 2014, was a medical exodus; I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. My life almost at the quarter century mark has seen some significant changes. I’ve been there and gotten the t-shirt, as I told my mother. She prayed that my t-shirt would not have too many medals on it, and I’m happy to say her and others prayers were answered. If you need a recap of my story click here for part one.
As I previously mentioned I had an orchiectomy on September 9, 2014.
On October 2, 2014, I received my staging and prognosis: Primary Tumor Stage II, End Stage 0. The last PET and CT scans showed no signs of abnormal metabolic activity. I’m in remission. I will be watched for the next ten years of my life. I will need CT scans and blood work done at intervals over these ten years. I haven’t mentioned chemotherapy or radiation, have I?
Neither are needed, my wife, Amanda’s observations and my instincts followed up by a disturbing dream I had told me to go into the doctor’s to be checked out. To be frank, I’ve always enjoyed sensational, vivid dreams. I’ll tell you about this one.
I was standing in a classroom, a nice one. I had finished teaching, and the students had left. A woman in her 70s-80s entered. She had the facial features of both my grandmother and great-grandmother blended into one. This woman approached me close enough for me to touch her, and close enough for me to hear all that she needed to say.
“Enjoy your life while you can.”
This dream, exceptional difficulty putting on pants, and difficult urination were three knocks on the door of my soul. Something had to be done, and it was up to me to do it.
My cancer experience has been traumatic, but compared to others’ experience with this disease and/or other types of cancers—I can say it has merely been an interruption and a turning point in my life. A 105mm Seminoma is certainly no laughing matter.
The tissue at the cancer site was hemorrhaging (bleeding). Yet, there was no sign of tissue death (Necrosis). When I imagine myself waiting any longer, I’m certain I would have either had a worse experience or perhaps worse.
I’ve thanked my doctors immensely for making this experience tolerable, my urologists, John Richier, M.D. and Kelly Bewsey, M.D. at Midwest Urological Group. Furthermore, my gratitude goes out to my oncologist, James A. Knost, M.D. at Illinois Cancer Care. At Unity Point Methodist, I’d like to thank Kathleen, an RN, and Stephanie, the PET/CT technologist. Also, Amanda Zimmerman, a technologist, at Midwest Urology Group. During my orchiectomy, I had the benefit of Unity Point Proctor’s nursing team which I mentioned in my last post.
These care providers made this ordeal, a tolerable experience. Peoria was a city built on whiskey, manufacturing, and agri-business. These ventures necessitated great hospitals. Here are some photos of the great hospitals I was cared at.
I’m thankful for my family; in blood and in law that provided care for me during my recovery. I have a lot of thanks to give on earth and above. But, again, I’m not Samuel Pepys. I’m Brandon C. Hovey, and I need to reiterate what I said in the last post. After all, I’m an educator by day and an author by night.
Hesitation can kill you.
When I was at 40 hour mandatory, a small training course for part time and auxiliary police officers, I used a retention holster. This holster is designed to prevent users from being disarmed by a suspect.
I bought this holster without doing my research. I’m guilty of buying this holster because a friend of mine at the time had one. I had no idea it was not the best choice, one of my instructors looked at the holster and said to his colleague; “Well, look at that, he wants to die.”
I ended up using a thumb break, classic style holster instead. That retention holster reminds me of the horrifying effects of hesitation. In Testicular Cancer, early detection saves lives. Had I not gone into the doctor and confronted my problem, I probably would not be writing this, and I may have needed palliative care or a good funeral director rather than an oncologist.
If you feel like you have a problem, cast your fears aside, and I’m pleading you to take care of it. Don’t let your life be held hostage. Take the shot.
Marry the right person. My wife Amanda’s observations led to my suspicions, and my suspicions led me to action. That first link in the chain was my WIFE’S observations. Clearly, if your spouse is telling you that something’s wrong, maybe it’s time to drop the remote, put down the controller, close the book, and get to the doctor. Amanda has been an outstanding partner in this situation. Make sure you pick a good partner.
Maybe you have a good partner? Maybe you’re looking for a good partner? Ask yourself this question: “When things get nasty, who’s watching me?”
“Who’s my wingman (wingperson)?”
Secondly, invest in your health.
When I was diagnosed, I boarded the roller-coaster, and I was anxious to get off right away. Well, you can’t quit until the ride is over, one way or another. You’ll either get well, or you’ll meet your maker, and the grandparents and uncles you’ve not seen in years. I was told the high cure rate of the cancer is 90%-99.9% in the early stages.
I was also told that I took good care of myself beforehand, and that is a force multiplier for a better or best prognosis. Exercise, eat your spinach, corn, and celery, and for heaven’s sake quit smoking, chewing, or fooling yourself with those acclaimed e-cigs. (The author is not a dietician, and apologizes for the rant).
Don’t feel like you need to go out to buy the juicer, either.
Your life is a gift, and it is in your hands. Maybe you are reading this, and there’s an issue you are avoiding? Scared? Confused? Upset? I was all of the above. Frankly, though, solving problems is better than letting them fester. Take charge of the situation. Don’t die of stubbornness, don’t be held hostage by grudges, and or illness, as I mentioned in my last post.
If you are reading this and are in the risk group, begin your self-examinations at least once a month. Trust me this cancer has a real home in a lab, and not inside of you. Now, as I begin ten years of surveillance, I once again ask you to share my story. Early detection saves lives.
Now give your loved ones a hug, and celebrate your life. Remember you are on your own journey, don’t compare yourself to others. We are and we are not all in this together. Fulfill your goals and make them reality.
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