I have (or hopefully, had) Lance Armstrong cancer.
Not that it was a big surprise. I've known for some time that this was likely coming. After initial symptoms showed up in November, several weeks of doctor's visits and tests all culminated in the surgery two days ago. There were definitely tumors, and the urologist told me before the surgery that it showed a 95% likelihood of being cancer. The only way to tell for sure was to perform a radical inguinal orchiectomy, removal of the affected part, and send it to pathology for analysis.
As I was waking up from the operation on Thursday, the doctor came by and told me that it definitely looked like cancer, giving it about 99% odds. Close enough. We'll know 100% when the pathology results come back on Tuesday, but I'm pretty sure that 1% is going down to zero.
For now, the incision hurts like heck if I try to do anything besides lie in bed. Vicodin helps somewhat but I don't want to rely on it too much. Hopefully in the next few days I'll be able to move around a little bit better. I'll probably be back at work in another week or so.
On Tuesday I'll learn the results of the pathology tests, which will tell us a number of things. It turns out there are several different types of cancerous tumors that can show up here, and treatment strategy sometimes depends on what types are present. I'll probably also have a CT-scan done to see if it has spread to anywhere else in the body. If it has, then further treatment will be necessary. If not, then we can probably get away with just the surgery + close surveillance for the next couple of years to make sure nothing pops up.
At any rate, I'm not writing this for sympathy. While the word cancer often sounds like a death sentence (and unfortunately for some types, it essentially is), my case is not bleak at all. When caught early, testicular cancer has a nearly 100% cure rate. 70 to 80% of patients don't need any treatment beyond the initial surgery (fingers crossed). And even when caught in advanced stages (when it has already spread), the cure rates can be up to 80-90% or better, depending on the type of tumors found. I'm pretty darn optimistic.
The real reason I'm writing about such a personal issue on this blog is that the prime demographic for this form of cancer also happens to overlap with BYOND's prime demographic: males aged 15 to 35 years old. You have a 1 in 250 chance of getting this disease in your lifetime; if you're in the aforementioned age range, your chances go up. If you're white, they go up even more. Given these odds, it's overwhelmingly likely that someone else in BYOND's community either has it or will have it in the future.
I'll probably use this blog to write some more about the diagnosis and treatment process, but the most important message to take away is this: perform a self-examination monthly. Early diagnosis is absolutely the most important factor in treating this cancer! I know it's embarrassing (hey, I'm writing about it publicly), but it's better to be embarrassed than sick. And I know that men in particular often wait too long before seeing a doctor, hoping it will go away on its own (thanks to my wife for a little prodding on that).
Lance Armstrong waited until the cancer had spread to his lungs and brain. He had to have extensive chemotherapy and brain surgery. Even with modern success rates, he was still given less than a 50% chance of surviving. It would have been much easier if he hadn't waited!
I'm looking forward to a full recovery, after which I will follow in Lance's footsteps and win the Tour de France 7 straight times. Or at the very least, I should become a BIKE GOD again after all of this is done.
And for those who were wondering, I still have one remaining, and it is fully functional. (sorry if that was too much information!)