The following contains slightly graphic descriptions of medical conditions and procedures. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip reading.
Back in the summer of 2011, I noticed a small bump underneath my left armpit. Thinking it was just a cyst, I ignored it.
By the time December came around, it had gotten to be the size of a lemon, and had spread to my chest. It was then I figured it was
probably something else. At that time, I also noticed that my
left testicle had gotten rather heavy, and was oddly shaped.
My brother took me to an Urgent Care center, where they immediately sent me to the hospital ER. After being examined there, they referred me to a Urologist. My urologist examined me, and sent me to get some tests done.
A few days later, my Urologist’s Medical Assistant called and told me to get down to John C. Lincoln hospital in Phoenix, and go to the ER. He knew I had no money and no insurance and that this would be the easiest way to get me admitted to the hospital.
That same night, he performed surgery on me, to remove my left testicle. It was then sent to Pathology to run tests.
I was then seen by an Oncologist and my Urologist, who said that there where two possibilities. Either I had testicular cancer, which
spread to my chest. Or, it was Lymphoma that spread to my testicle.
After about a day, my Oncologist verified that it was Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which had metastasized (spread) to the testicle.
That night, they installed a port in my chest, so they could begin chemotherapy. I would be receiving the R-CHOP regimine. Once released from the hospital, I saw that same Oncologist 2 more times. God bless him, because he never charged me for any office visits.
And, all of my chemo meds where donated. God bless the people who donated the meds. However, I could only have 2 treatments there. I would receive the rest at the county oncology clinic.
I met with my new oncologist, but I had to wait a few months to get into the clinic to start treatment. During that time, I started having bad pains in my stomach whenever I ate. The pain would go away after
“passing gas”. I let this go for awhile (about 2 months), when my uncle talked me into going to the ER and getting checked out.
Everyone thought it was constipation or dehydration.
When I got to the ER, they did an x-ray and discovered I had an obstruction and perforation in my small intestine. They immediately put in an NG tube (goes up your nose and down your throat). They pumped out several liters of “stool” that had leaked out of my intestine, which was basically poisoning my system. It had
also seriously damaged my kidneys.
After 2 days, the doctors where talking about testing me on liquid foods. Well, someone messed up and I was given chopped solid foods (what they call “mechanically soft”).
Thinking it was ok, I ate. About 20 minutes later, my stomach hurt so bad, it felt like a bowling ball was going to bust through my stomach. My nurse gave me morphine for the pain, and that night I was taken to the O.R.
First, they installed an Ommaya port, which is installed in the skull, into one of the fluid chambers of the brain. This is used to administer
intrathecal chemotherapy into the brain and spinal fluid. This is because the normal chemo meds only go thru the blood, and Lymphoma sometimes likes to hide in spinal and brain fluid.
That same night, they operated on my intestine. They ended up taking out 22 cm that had been perforated. There was no cancer detected, so they thought perhaps the chemo meds had caused the obstruction, which in turn caused the perforation.
They then took the end of the small intestine (the ileum) and put it on the outside of my body. This is what’s called an ileostomy.
For the next 6 months, I would wear an ostomy bag which would collect the stool.
My new oncologist felt that my cancer was pretty aggressive, so he started me on a more aggressive therapy, the RICE therapy.
This was so aggressive, I lost the ability to produce saliva and mucous, and lost all of my hair quickly. I also dropped down to 114 pounds (I’m normally 160).
I had to stay in the hospital for 26 days, as my immune system was compromised from the chemo.
Once I was released, I saw my oncologist, who put me back on the R-CHOP therapy. He said I didn’t need the aggressive RICE therapy anymore, which I was glad to hear. I got back on a schedule of chemo every 21 days. I was also assigned a primary doctor and a nutritionist.
I eventually developed a foot-drop, which is a side effect of one of the chemo drugs.
After the chemo was over, my Oncologist said that they are unable to detect the cancer thru blood tests, and that he wanted me to have a PET scan done, which is the most accurate test for detecting cancer. I had the scan done in September of 2012. The results of that test was that there was no detectable cancer.
That same month, I went thru 15 radiation treatments on my testicle area, to make sure any cancer that spread there was killed off.
On the 19th of September, I had surgery to reverse my ileostomy. So now, my digestive system is back to normal.
Since then, I’ve had my chest port and ommaya port removed. Other than a few scars, I’m back to normal.
What I learned from this experience, is that, there is more growth in pain than pleasure. I developed myself on a personal level more in the 2 years of cancer treatment, than any other period in my life.
Thanks to the support of friends and family, I also learned that prayers, positive energy and thoughts, can do more than any medicine ever could on it’s own.
Now, I don’t take life for granted. Every day is a new experience full of incredible possibilities. I’m no longer afraid to step out of my shell. I’m not concerned with the negative opinions of others. The doubters and haters no longer bother me.