Wednesday 28 April is the day I got my results and found out whether or not any further treatment is required. The day I was waiting so very impatiently for!
The most important dates on my journey so far have been:
- Wednesday 17 March diagnosis
- Wednesday 31 March surgery
- Wednesday 7 April blood tests
- Wednesday 21 April CT scan
- Wednesday 28 April results
Wednesdays have got it in for me! Guess which day I was born on. Yup, you got it! I’m wondering if I should remove them from my calendar and just sleep through Wednesdays moving forward. Anyway, without further ado, on to the results!
Blood Test Results
The markers in my blood have returned back to normal levels, as mentioned in the previous blog (CT Scan and Histology Report). The doctor started with this piece of good news – that’s one tick off the list! Did he start with good news because he plans to finish with some bad? I’m trying to read his face behind his mask, he seems to be smiling, this is good! Smiling is good! Or is he smiling through awkwardness or pity? Does the smile take the edge off some bad news? Am I reading too much into this? Absolutely. It’s been 2 months leading up to this moment and I am well and truly bricking myself.
Germ Cell Results
Next we speak about the tumour. There are 2 main types of testicular germ cell cancer, seminomas and non-seminomas. My tumour was a mixture of both – just my luck! This is called a mixed germ cell tumour. Mine was a stage one tumour, which means it was contained within my testicle and had not spread anywhere else in the body. Get in there! Whoop! Tick number 2!
I’m beginning to get excited and can feel the weight lifting off my shoulders already. Two ticks in the bag and this beautiful doctor is still smiling behind his mask! However, then he gives me some news that takes the shine off a little bit. This type of cancer has a 50/50 chance of returning. Even if I am all clear now, there’s a 50% chance I’ll get cancer again sometime in the future. It’s not likely or unlikely, it’s smack bang in the middle, which sort of makes it feel like pot luck. Something I feel I haven’t had much of lately.
CT Scan Results
Onto the CT scan results – which look good! There is nothing on the CT scans that is concerning for the team involved in my care. Another tick! However, the doctor tells me that one of the lymph nodes behind my abdomen is slightly enlarged. One of the places that testicular cancer can spread next is the abdomen and the lymph node in question sits along the passage it takes to get there. Oh no. Maybe not a tick then?
The doctor tells me that the size of it is 9mm. If the size were 10mm they ‘would be more concerned and would want to investigate further.’ I didn’t ask what size it should be. I should have done. But all I could think is wow, 1mm worth of wriggle room realty isn’t that much is it? I did ask the doctor to explain what else could perhaps cause my lymph node to swell, other than it potentially being another tumour. He tells me that they can swell near an infection to help your body fight it.
This made me feel instantly better, because I had an infection about a week or 2 ago around the area of my abdomen. If you read the previous blog you will remember that I angered my wound by walking around too much on an impromptu pub crawl. This caused infection which I had to seek some antibiotics for. So, hopefully, this is a logical explanation as to why this particular lymph node is enlarged. Touch wood! I will know for sure when it comes to my next CT scan.
With 3 ticks in the bag, the doctor and his team do not think it I necessary that I undergo any further treatment at this time and chemotherapy isn’t required. They want to put me under surveillance, which basically means I will be coming back for regular blood tests and CT scans for the next 5 years. This is standard practice but extremely important for me, given the odds of cancer coming back.
I wanted to kiss him. All the way through this journey I really did not want to experience chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Surgery was a doddle, I slept through it. Losing a testicle really isn’t that bad once you get over the stigma of it. The recovery period is quick and relatively pain free. But chemo scares me if I’m being honest. If it came to it and it was required, I really don’t know how I would react to it.
There is a 50/50 chance that I may go through this all again in the future and chemotherapy may be required then. But for now, I am clear, no further treatment is required and I am cancer free. Typing that felt utterly wonderful.
Whilst I was sat there with the doctor, I didn’t know how to feel. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions in just 2 minutes. Having a stage one tumour, clear blood tests, and a satisfying CT scan is all excellent news and I am absolutely buzzing my little odd balls off! But yet there is an enlarged lymph node in my abdomen that may or may not be related to cancer; and it’s literally pot luck whether or not I will have to do this again sometime in the future.
It’s a bit bittersweet really, or at least that’s how I felt when I left the hospital. The night before, I imagined what I would be like and how I would react to both good news and bad news. For good news, I had visions of me leaving the hospital whooping, high-fiving people as I passed them by, then maybe I’d burst into song outside the doors and swing around a lamppost. Okay too far, but you get what I mean.
What I actually felt was like the biggest weight I’ve ever carried was lifted from my shoulders in an instant. I felt 2 foot taller. It was definitely more of a feeling of relief than anything else. But I have to admit, at the time, this was also balanced with a feeling of anxiety and very slight disappointment. This was probably due to my naivety in thinking that results day was going to be a line in the sand. I was expecting to be put under surveillance, but I hoped this would just be a precautionary thing and my results would state this was the end of my cancer journey. It may very well be yet, but there’s a 50% chance it won’t be.
That was my initial reaction. Since then I’ve had about a week to sit on it and let it sink in. Whatever the odds are of it coming back, right now I am cancer free, and that’s all that matters. Sadly, they say roughly 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. So, in reality, everyone has a 50/50 chance of going through this. My odds are no better or worse than anyone else’s. The way I should look at it now is at least I am lucky enough to be under surveillance, so if it does come back I will find out in good time.
Check them and Call it in
I hope my story highlights the importance of checking your balls and calling it in if you ever do find something abnormal down there. I also hope that it shows how treatable testicular cancer is, and the high chances of you being completely fine if you call it in early enough. It is extremely important lads so please do check them and call it in!
To everyone that has shown me love throughout all of this, I cannot thank you enough. I have been humbled and overwhelmed by the messages of support and the backing of my team. I also owe the NHS everything. They are all heaven-sent angels honestly, every healthcare professional involved in my journey from start to finish has been amazing. I called it in, but they saved my life. They deserve more from our government in every imaginable aspect – but that’s for another blog post.
Cancer came for me and together we bat it right back and slapped it on its arse. Kicking and screaming I will go when the time comes for me to leave this world, and I am nowhere near that yet. IAP 1 – Cancer 0. You’re damn right!
Really great news Ian, I’m so happy for you.
I’ve loved reading your story. You made me laugh and cry. My fiancé has just been diagnosed with testicular cancer today and it has rocked our world to be honest, but hearing your story has definitely helped.
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Fills my heart knowing my story has fulfilled its purpose and helped someone! The best of luck to your fiancé Lucy, you’ll both make it through this fine!