Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Cancer Story Continued

I get a large volume of hits from people looking up testicular cancer issues. You can read "My Cancer Story," and I hope it can be of help to people. In keeping with the spirit of that post, I would like to add on some current activity.

Since my cancer in 1999, I have gone for chest x-rays and blood work once a year(and I get my PSA every year or so, too), along with a checkup from a local Hematologist/Oncologist. I also go for an abdominal CT Scan every three years. This approach will go on indefinitely.

As some research suggests that the radiation treatment I received in 1999 could have some correlation to colon cancer down the road, I have also had two colonoscopies in the last several years. As the last one did not show any polyps, my gastrointestinal doctor advised on another one in ten years. My Hematologist/Oncologist has not weighed in on this yet. Needless to say, I feel very strongly that people should have regular colonoscopies, and I will go again whenever required to do so.

All of these steps are, in my mind, critical and smart. I would rather know something is wrong sooner than later. The person who believes that they will stay healthy as long as they do not go for any tests or exams is, well, a fool.

Recently, my situation gave me a scare. In early October, I began to have discomfort near my remaining testicle. It turns out I have a minor hydrocele, which is not a serious problem, and a small cyst on my epididymis, also, not a problem. These things have become discomforts I can live with. I discovered these things from having ultrasounds performed.

A slightly more concerning matter was the existence of some microlithiasis. Microlithiasis is small calcium pieces in the scrotum. The medical field on testicular cancer is unclear as to whether microlithiasis is a warning sign of testicular cancer, but my doctors feel that since I only have a small amount, there is no need for worry. I will go for follow up ultrasounds once a year now.

I learned some other valuable lessons during this experience. The doctor who performed my surgery in 1999 is a local urologist here in Freehold, New Jersey. He is a good surgeon, but he has the worst personality of any person I have ever known. He does not discuss anything with me unless I force him repeatedly, he is rude and short, and he tends to never tell me any good news, instead focusing entirely on the worst case scenarios.

Some examples? He never informed me in 1999 that I had a 98% recovery rate. Also, when he told me I had cancer, he never offered me ANY comfort at all; simply blurting out a "You have cancer" comment and sitting in his chair stone faced. With these recent goings on, he did not tell me that, while this needed monitoring, there was no crisis. Instead, he let me know that if cancer showed up, my other testicle would be history and I would need testosterone treatments for the rest of my life (he also added a remark about how expensive this would be).

Needless to say, I was extremely frightened. Fortunately, I had seen Dr. George Bosl at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City in 1999, who is arguably the best doctor in the country in the area of testicular cancers. I decided to call him again and he reviewed my information and had his second in command, Dr. Joel Sheinfeld, exam me. Dr. Sheinfeld calmed me and explained everything in a manner that displayed respect alongside a vast knowledge and expertise. Ok, so I have something that has to be monitored a bit. It is not dire and I do not need to panic. What a difference!!

The lessons are simple. If a doctor is rude, obnoxious, unwilling to communicate, and not able to see you as a human being, screw him or her; get another doctor! Also, if possible, it is always valuable to, at a minimum, allow the best in the field to offer a second opinion, if not treat you outright. I will never go to the doctor in Freehold again AND I am sleeping at night knowing I am not nearly as bad off as that doctor had me believing and am getting the best possible care now.

I am a testicular cancer survivor. I have also been through many experiences as a result of that cancer. Please, if you are reading this and have testicular cancer, drop me a comment. I won't have answers for you, but perhaps I can give you a better path to finding them for yourself.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Poem: Book Covers

Book Covers

What did I see in you?
Certainly not what is there.
Or is it gone,
For you are different now;
And less.

Copyright SGW 1998