"You have cancer" were words we never thought we'd hear from a urologist today. The "c-word" we never wanted to hear again. A mass we never wanted to find and a specialist we never wanted to see. Dan has cancer. Again.
It started last week when Dan found a "lump" that prompted us to interrupt our doctor's California vacation with a frantic text. She advised us to head to the ER so off we went. Now, last weekend was not just any weekend for us. We happened to be in northwestern PA at my storied family reunion so we made our way from the family campsite to the local hospital for an exam. The doctor there referred us to a urologist to take a further look at the "mass" after he ruled out some simpler causes. He dropped the "c-word" and discharged us back to camp. Needless to say, our spirits were shot, but we did our best to muster up some strength to put this news aside and enjoy our weekend with beloved family and friends. We interrupted our doctor in California one more time and she set us up with a urologist appointment this afternoon. It was a great distraction up in PA, but we were ready to get home and get some answers.
Here's what we know: Dan has a small to medium mass in his left testicle. It is most likely cancer. The way to deal with masses there is to surgically remove the testicle and then biopsy the mass to plan subsequent treatments and/or observations. Testicular cancer has at least a 90% cure rate with minimal changes to life after surgery; however, there is a "wrinkle" (doctor's word) given Dan's "history". Sometimes a mass in the testicles turns out to be lymphoma (a similar type of blood cancer to leukemia that presents as a tumor/mass). This is unusual in most people, but given Dan's "history", the risk of lymphoma hiding there is slightly elevated. The doctor today was confident that the tumor looks consistent with testicular cancer. We don't want Dan to have testicular cancer, but we really don't want him to have lymphoma - and we won't know for sure until after the surgery and the biopsy results come back.
We got home a few hours ago and are still processing the fact that Dan has cancer again. We are happy that it doesn't appear to be related to his previous cancer, but are devastated at another set-back from normalcy. We are anxious about the surgery, the biopsy results and any possible radiation/treatment Dan might need to kick this thing for good. We will likely "have a urologist" now and can add that to another team of specialists who already look after our dear Dan. We can expect CT scans in our future and close observation of another part of Dan we didn't know we needed to observe. We spent the afternoon in a new ER on Friday and a new building at Georgetown today. Dan is having his first surgery. We are tired. We are exhausted from worrying and from speculating. We are still looking forward to the two-week stretch without seeing a doctor. We are hopeful that this will be in the past next week at this time and Dan can get back to recovering from the bone marrow transplant he had just 8 months ago. We are optimistic that ALL will be well, just a little later than sooner.
Dan is doing great. He's feeling better than ever. Thankfully he found the mass and fortunately this cancer is curable. The surgery is not scheduled yet but will be sometime later this week. It will be outpatient and hopefully our summer plans aren't interrupted. We can't wait to see our niece baptized this weekend, to gather with friends for a long weekend in a lake house later this month, to spend quality time with family at the beach, and witness some great friends get married in August. We know we are loved and have so many people carrying us on this journey. Thanks for your continued prayers and extra muscle strength as we climb up another hill on our way to the top.