I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 at the age of 33, and I thought my life was over.
As a newly minted 40 year old young adult cancer survivor, I've spent much of my 30's heavily engaged with testicular cancer advocacy, but there's other things I've aspired to do in my arc through life. If my life before cancer was my first act, and my life after cancer from the ages of 33 to 39 has been a second, then let this new decade of my 40's become my third. A new era in my life begins today.
I have 4 draft Facebook page posts, and a half dozen draft blogs on my website just trying to capture all of the thoughts running through my head, and I've finally gotten a handle on what's been going on with this crazy Scorpio mind of mine, as I approach 40 as a young adult cancer survivor. As I approach this huge milestone, I'm remembering all of those times that I was so spooked and convinced that this day would never come and missing out on so many life experiences, but at the same time I'm also remembering how I made it through those times, how I overcame it all, and all of the amazing people that I found or who found me along the way that were able to help me in this journey, and such deep love and gratitude that I feel for so many.
Six years after my cancer fight, I still GRIEVE the loss of my life as I once knew it sometimes, thinking that everything would always be okay, that my family would always be healthy, and friends that I truly love and care about will always be around. I want to believe that, but know it's just now how things work. Why do I get so sappy and emotional? Because I love you, and I want you to know that now, today, because I know that you might not be around tomorrow, or maybe I'm the one that might not be around.
One day I was reading my friend's website, and my jaw hit the floor when I read a post about grief. It was the first time I'd ever seen a "grief chart." I had no idea there even was such a thing, and I could easily identify myself at every single step of this big curve as a cancer survivor. I had been writing and sharing in my cancer journey for a few years at this point, and it had never occurred to me even once that this entire process and all that I was going through, was all really one massive grief curve.
Today marks my last two days of chemotherapy for testicular cancer, six years ago. Why do I mark the last two days, and not the last day? Because I distinctly remember just how scared out of my mind I was, worrying that the chemotherapy hadn't done its job, and that I'd have to go through these months of misery all over again, possibly without a healthy exit.
The retroperitoneal lymph node dissection surgery (RPLND) is a really gruesome and highly invasive surgery for some testicular cancer patients. It can be used as a primary form of treatment for some Stage I and Stage II patients that have been diagnosed with nonseminomatous germ cell tumors (NSGCT), and can also be used as a secondary form of treatment for the post-chemotherapy management of residual masses. The surgery is horrifying to many newly diagnosed testicular cancer patients and caregivers when they first read about it. Many will gravitate towards chemotherapy thinking that it’s “easier”, but I’m here to tell you not to be afraid of the RPLND surgery. It might actually be the better option for some.
I didn’t have the slightest freaking clue what I felt or how I knew, because I’d never felt like this about anyone before, but I just “knew” she was the one. This sense was suddenly went from nothing to pegging the scales at “eleventy”, and I’m glad I was smart enough to listen and asked her out, because here we are today 21 years later.
It’s not too often that I get a new watch, but I did, so I figured I’d write about it for fun. It’s nice to write about things of personal interest once in awhile, just to mix things up a bit. No I didn't splash out on a new Breitling for my 40th yet, but I really like my new Acura I mean Citizen Skyhawk Titanium!
Here in the Washington, D.C. area, we only get an air show every other year at Andrews Air Force Base (Joint Base Andrews) due to DoD budget cuts, which makes the biennial Andrews Air Show a must-see event. This year I went with just my son, and it was an amazing day!
Do you own your photography, or does your photography own you? A classic age old question, that's often a bit of a balancing act that requires a bit of experimentation!
We were out for dinner tonight, and eventually a beautiful young woman in her 20's walked in and sat down at the table across from us with some friends. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a semi-colon tattoo down her side, and all I could do was just smile, happy that she didn't do it, happy that she was able to overcome her demons and that she was still here, and what a waste it would have been.
Do I even really need to post this one? It's a lesson that's been drilled home not just once, but a few times with me. I always had my entire life in front of me and plenty of time to do everything I wanted, until I was diagnosed with cancer. Ever since then, there's never been a such things as next year, or 5 or 10 years from now, or "when I retire". I don't have a life plan like that anymore. It's a foreign concept to me now, and it's not just because I had cancer as a young adult.
This website is about my 5 month fight against testicular cancer, and my 5 year journey back to life in the survivorship years that followed. From aggressive surveillance schedules, recurrence scares and scanxiety, experiencing the loss of friends and having survivors guilt, periods of depression and post-traumatic stress, and the many physical and emotional struggles that I've faced, to finally thriving today.
This is my journey, these are my stories, this is how I live,
and all that I've learned along the way.