Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sir, I am afraid you have cancer

Those are the words most people dread. Even so, I am probably as lucky as anyone you know. I found out by accident, due to unrelated problems.

I was on vacation in the southwest, Tombstone to be exact, when I found a lump under my arm. It was fairly obvious it was a lymph node, but swollen and hard. I have had relatives who had some form of Lymphoma. Their lives and personality were altered by chemo and the experience. That’s not a good way to finish up a vacation. The other consideration was the wife's loss of her dad shortly before from lung cancer. I really didn't want to have to drive cross country with the love of my life sedated in the back of the vehicle. She would have to be drugged, or freak and spaz, all the way home. The only thing to do was keep the old fly trap shut, put it away, until it can be dealt with. There were other mediating circumstances, more than one thing will cause a swollen node and we had been in the bush, so to speak, for two weeks.

Needless to say it sort of took the shine off the apple. We were out for another week. I made an appointment with the family sawbones, on our return, and made sure to be prompt, not that he was or anything. He checked the lump, agreed it was a lump, gave me a bill and a prescription for nuclear strength antibiotics, and come back in two weeks.

Right Oh, see you then!

I went home and got on the Internet to research the meds, and every malady he mentioned. Some mentioned a thirty day regimen of antibiotics, or other fairly serious treatment. Goodie, those always come with stomach problems.

At the end of a week, the lump had reduced, cautious relief for now. I returned to the sawbones, and discussed with him the findings on the Internet. He didn't want to give me a months supply, but in the end finally agreed.

At the end of the next week the lump had moved, and turned into two lumps.


The sawbones was immediately concerned, if you can imagine that? He started palpating various area on my limbs. Nothing. He was running out of things to check and tells me to drop the laundry. (????) He then palpated my dangley bits, and I almost threw up on his head.

Now that hurt!!!

He immediately scheduled a sonogram. (Wait a sec Doc, am I pregnant? No Dumba##, it's just a picture. Oh.)

Our next appointment was July the Seventh, 1999. I was told I had testicular cancer. Another thing that worried me was the lack of reaction on my part. Aren't you supposed to be scared or something? Nothing at all, just "Ok." That was also the day I found out my Dad had lung cancer.

When life sucks, it really sucks huge.

The sawbones scheduled TWO surgeons for the following Wednesday 7-9. I don't know about the rest of the world, but when the doctors get in a hurry, I worry! They also told me it was out patient surgery. (????) Outpatient? "You mean I can go home?" Yup! "Cool!"

I went in at five and was out by six, not that I remember any of it. The cutters were afraid it had spread to the lymph system. We were all happy to find the lumps under the arm were a pair of abscess, that were debrieded down to the chest wall. That means a large deep hole. No spreading.

The nice nurse came in at nine to wake me to see if I was resting well. I told her "I want to go home." She replied well we want you to stay the night. I replied "I'm sure you do, I want to go home." She said it's late, we would have to call the Doctor and get orders. I said "Call him, I'm going home!" She did and came back an hour later with orders and my clothes. We pushed me down to the back door and I managed to get into our Cherokee with out blowing any stitches. No small feat that! The love of my life asked me if I wanted any thing before I went home, the liquor store was closed, so I said Hardees. I had been with out food for something like twenty six hours by then. In a few minuets I was sitting in my recliner with a greasy cheesy in each hand, and I was a happy man!

The next day wasn't quite so much fun. I wanted to walk a little in the morning, I got about fifty yards from the house, coffee in hand, when the little woman got home, I thought she was gonna kick my butt! It looked like a terrier on a bear, I couldn't even run away.

The visit to the Surgeons office lead to instruction in how to irrigate and pack the void under my arm. The good doctor allowed that I was a brave man because I went home that night, I wonder what he would have thought had he seen the naked fat man, dancing in a circle, tears pouring while stuffing gauze in the hole in his chest wall. The bride took one look and almost horrked on me. The poor dear turned the palest green, really very attractive.

Now if any ladies are reading this please pardon anything you find indelicate. I would like to encourage you to help you favorite man self examine his goodie bits to ensure he dosen't pull a Lance Armstrong and deny until he has tumors. Please ensure they are smooth round and not too firm, not to sensitive or painful, the owner will guide you in a through examination. This might lead to a new closeness. I'm certain he will enjoy the check.

It will soon be ten years since that day, I have survived obviously, none the worse for wear.

My Dad only made it nine months, I don't know if the cancer or the chemo killed him.


Ambulance Driver said...

DW, glad to hear you made the 10 year mark - and apparently with your humor intact.

My Mom made it 30 days from diagnosis. She refused chemo or further biopsies. She had seen what chemo does, just like I had. You have to remind yourself that it works, but some days it seems that it kills the cancer only a little faster than it kills the patient.

HollyB said...

Congrats on your 10 year Remission!!!
That is an amazing feat.
CA, Renal Cell, metastatic took my Daddy. Turns out it "runs" in my fam. His mother had it, and two of her brothers that we know of, also had it.
I have an abdominal sono every 5 yrs now.
I wish you continued good health.

Flo said...

So sorry about your dad, DW.

But congrats to you, and here's to your continued good health!

Rabbit said...

Congratulations on the clean bill of health.

My brother had a testicular cyst that really made everyone nervous for a couple of weeks several years ago. The month before SWMBO and I got married, I noticed a lump in my left axilla that was firm and fixed. Doc gave me erythromycin for it...no change. Got a surg consult and discussed a needle biopsy, ut in the meantime it kept getting bigger and more painful, to the point where I couldn't mechanically raise my arm beyond 45 degrees. The surgery revealed the mass was the size of a cantaloupe and was through my chest wall up against my heart and left lung, and benign.

I know how it was, with that piece of round steak needing constant attention and repacking. Mine was open for 6 weeks. The surgery was one week to the day before SWMBO and I got married, and there was concern that I'd not have the energy to stand for the ceremony, although she was worried I wouldn't live through the honeymoon :D


Testicular-Cancer.co.uk said...

I've just crossed the one year boundary since my all clear, kind of strange not being watched quite so closely (I'm between test and results at the moment and it never gets any less nerve-wracking!).

I completely agree with the sentiments above, ladies if your loved one is too proud, damned well check him yourself!!