Tuesday, August 05, 2003


So remember a few weeks back how my Doctor said it did not look like cancer? Turns out she was wrong. It is cancer.

She did all the right stuff, and I was scheduled to repeat the ultrasound to make sure. My brain is all cluttered from the painkillers, so I will try to type this out in a logical order.

Let me preface with this: I am home, I am alright, I am very tired. I am okay at the moment, emails appreciated, but please no calls yet. I am just wore out and need to sleep, and not be answering the phone.

Here’s the story.

Pain Starts:
Earlier this year I was racing the motorcycle, and managed to hit some bumps in the track that really REALLY made my left testicle hurt. Like blinding pain. Ouch Ouch. (photo of me racing) I put an ice pack on my crotch, and drove home in the truck thinking “hmmm, that seems to have hurt MORE than usual.” But by the time I got home, everything seemed to be back to normal.

Over the next month or so, however, I noticed my left testicle was particularly tender. It hurt when I stood up too fast. It hurt if I sat down too fast. It hurt on the motorcycle. It hurt in my office chair. It really hurt when my wonderful fiancé Sara and I were feeling amorous. (ain’t that a polite way to say that?)

Pain makes me Poetic:
I began to feel like a Dr. Seuss character.

Red Egg and Pain

It hurts when I ride,
my red egg and pain
It hurts as I stride,
My red egg hurts in the rain
My red egg is a big bag of pain

It hurts when I go
My egg hurts if I’m slow
It hurts making whoopee
My egg hurts while drinking a slurpee.

Only the left
Never the right
My red egg’s in pain
Some kind of blight, some kind of drain.

Visit General Practitioner:
So at Sara’s insistence, I go visit my Doctor. She is a wonderful doc, she calls me at home to check up, her office staff is friendly, she does great work. She is a #1 General Practitioner. She does an exam and says “Dang, that sure is big.” And I start laughing, and say “Doc, usually when a woman tells me that, I am complimented, but this time …..” Fortunately, she laughs too.

We schedule an ultrasound, and I go on Cipro, an antibiotic. At that time, it looked like a big, nasty infection. If you are a guy, imagine swollen, painful, and solid. Like a walnut, really solid. If you are a girl, well, you cannot imagine, just think painful.

Buy the Perfect House:
Just at this time, Sara and I find the PERFECT house. We buy it, we put the condo on the market (it is still for sale, www.mlslistings.com property # 340519) We spend 2 agonizing weeks moving from the old house to the new house. Sara is a champion. She is my strength when I just cannot move anymore. Every box I lift? Pain in the balls! But, new house is wonderful. Photos from real estate before we bought: http://home.comcast.net/~cstatman/House.htm Photos of just when we moved in: http://f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/bc/cstatman/lst?.dir=/New+House

Ultrasound #1:
So then I go to the hospital for an ultrasound. Laying in a dark, quiet room while a cute technician rubs slimy goo all over my balls. Then applies the ultrasound probe, and I feel a tingling zapping, like someone hooked me to a 110volt line. There is nothing sexy about this. It hurts.

Once she is done, she hands me some towels, and says “ya can wipe that stuff off and go back to work” Again, SOUNDS like fun, but isn’t. L I return to work, and later that day Dr. Nguyen phones to tell me they did not see anything, but for me to continue the Cipro for the next 3 weeks. The swelling did not go down, but the pain did. A little. She does not think it is cancer, but we will continue to monitor it.

Pain Returns:
The week after I get off Cipro, I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant in San Jose, Alberto’s on Park Avenue.

and I plop down in the booth, and immediately double up in pain. I cannot breathe. It feels like someone kicked me in the crotch. Repeatedly. Wearing steel toed boots. With points on them, and they were very strong. (get the idea? Big pain)

Sara looks at me, knows what is happening, and simply says ‘you need to go back to see Dr. Nguyen”. We both know something is wrong. At this point, something has to be seriously, terribly, horribly wrong. I schedule an appointment on Tuesday, July 29th. 4 days after my 39th birthday.

Birthday party photos here (Thanks Calamity Charles!)

Dr. Andonian
Dr. Nguyen says it looks bad, and schedules me with the Urologist for Thurday. Dr. Robert W. Andonian. If you are in San Jose, CA, and you need a Urologist, this is the man. He is great. No nonsense, and knows his stuff. He interviews me, then does a quick exam, then asks me if I have plans later that day. My balls hurt so muc, I can clear my schedule for a solution, sure. It is not good. Very not good. But we want to be sure.

Dr. Andonian makes a few calls, and gets me scheduled for some lab work and an ultrasound at O’Conner hospital across the street. When? Right now. Yes, no BS. No waiting, no long lines. He has some connections. I walk in and am treated exceptionally well, and they rush me into the lab for a blood draw, then over to ultrasound for a look around.

The ultrasound tech says ‘wow, no one gets in here unscheduled that fast, … let me look at your file, OH! Dr. Andonian, he is the best, no wonder you got in so fast.’ I like hearing this. As a member of the Torque & Recoil Club, Austin, Texas, my pals are always looking for “the best”. The best tools, the best cell phone, the best mechanic, etc. and I have found the BEST. Whew.

Ultrasound #2 & Realization
This time, a male tech rubs slimy goo on the ultrasound probe, then on my balls. Nope, this time hurts just as bad as the last time, he keeps hemming and hawing, and ultrasounding more. We chat about bicycles and motorcycles. He rides road bikes, like Lance Armstrong. At that very moment, I KNOW I have testicular cancer. I simply know it. Lance survived, so will I. The tech leaves the room to have the Radiologist interpret, then comes back in and ultrasounds my kidneys. Yep, more work, we want to look more, I sooo know I have cancer.

We finish up, I am not as slimy as ultrasound #1, I get dressed, and go wait for Dr. Andonian, who told me he’d meet me at 12:45. And he did. On the dot. He says we should go back across the street to his clinic to talk, so we do.

It’s official:
At his office, the doctor tells me he does not have good news. My left testicle almost certainly has cancer. He has scheduled surgery for Monday, August 4th, he wishes he had better news. There is also a chance it may have spread to my lymph nodes, we will not know till we cut it out. Attitude is everything he tells me. I MUST keep a positive attitude. Well, I can do that. I am a TEXAN.

All I can think of is that it hurts so bad, surely cutting it out has to make it feel a little better. Thank goodness I still have the surgery bed at the house (long story, will tell if you wanna hear about it) I need to talk to Sara. And my folks. And what the heck is happening, and why me? What did I do to deserve this kick in the balls? But my pal Jack had it, he is okay. Okay, it may work out all right.

Telling People
In a daze, I wander out to the truck. I have a stupid meeting at 3pm at work. All of a sudden, it does not seem very important. But I need to go. I still have a few hours.

Out in the truck, my pal Kevin calls, we were going to try to have lunch. I just sort of blurt out “I have cancer, no lunch today” He is great, his brother went through this. He survived, so can I. We will talk more later.

I phone Sara. She is stunned. Cancer is bad. Cancer is the only thing that ever kicked John Wayne’s butt. Sara is worried, we just got a house, and a life, and engaged. I cannot go off and croak. But she is supportive.

I phone my folks. Not really what they want to hear. They immediately want to come out and take care of their son. I am not up for this. I just got some big news, and I am going to have a bunch of stuff to handle, now I need to worry about putting my parents up for a week, and making sure they have things to do. Hmmm, I need to talk to Sara, and get back to the folks.

I phone my sister. She tells me it will all be okay. She is the best.

I drive over to Sara’s office, and we chat, we can fight this cancer. And my folks visit is more for them than for me. If I was a parent, I’d sure want to be around for my sick kid. I am just worried about what to do with them while they are here. But we’ll figure it out.

I call my racing mentor, and dear friend James “Old Man James” Gardner. His girlfriend has been having all sorts of sickness lately, and I wanted to tell him I one-upped her! If her doctor ever tells her she has testicular cancer, she should get a second opinion!

I call Jack. He has been through this, and he is the most positive attitude I know. We chat for a while, he assures me it is steps and procedures. The doctors do one thing, then see what happens, that dictates what is next. The most important is to keep positive attitude. Yay Jack. He makes me feel much better.

I send email to my boss Keith, he is on vacation, but still a little in communication. He is wonderful, and has been one of my best supporters at work, I want him to be ‘in the loop’. We exchange some emails, he is great. I could not ask for a more supportive, cool friend and mentor. I hope he is on the beach ordering drinks by color. “Jose, bring me a blue drink”

I call back my folks, they schedule a flight out to arrive Sunday afternoon.

Sara and I go over to Jack’s on Thursday night. We all go out for some yummy, delicious Pizza. Garlic and more garlic. I will so be a fart monster Thursday night. After talking with Jack, both Sara and I feel better. He is such a good friend. We get back to his house and take photos. Yes, I will have before and after photos. No, I will not include the link to those photos here.

Daze and Acceptance:
Friday we have a pre-op visit with Dr. Andonian. He discusses the procedure, he tells us the steps. We talk about fertility, we talk about what happens if cancer has spread. But basically the message is this: “that ball is coming out on Monday. We’ll know what to do next once it is out.”

I’m dazed. Balls are those things guys are attached to. You like knowing they are there. You scratch them, you hold them, you curse them, and you tell people to kiss them. And one is going away. Eeek! Will the other be enough to stand up to my use?

We do the only thing we can. We go home and do some yard work! We spent Friday afternoon out in the yard trimming bushes, watering, and taking nap. Saturday we cut down a dead tree, and removed more junk. There is a big pile of brush in the street.

And I realized, this is happening to me. I might as well figure it out and fight it.

Saturday afternoon my pal Julia had a birthday party for her boyfriend. Jack came first to our house, then we all drove over to Julia’s. I sat and talked with friends, but did not really mention it to anyone, I was not ready to share with everyone.

Worrying & Folks Arrival:
I do not want to worry my friends, so I will not really tell anyone till after Monday, when I know what happened. Like the doctor says, it all goes in steps. So my step will be telling my pals after I know what happens. This text is how I will do it.

I am worried, but do not want my pals to be skeered, till we know anything, and so I keep my mouth shut.

My folks fly in Sunday, we pick them up at the airport, get a rental car, and head to the house. Lots of talk, and we end up at Original Joe’s for dinner. Also a favorite restaurant, Original Joe’s serves Italian and American fare. In a nice, comforting atmosphere. For the last meal before anesthesia, I have the ¾ size half ravioli, half spaghetti. Yum!

Back to the house, and early to bed. Tomorrow will be a big day.

Monday, 9:30 am. Off to the hospital run by the sisters of mercy, daughters of charity. These nuns have taken care of me in Texas too! Sign in and wait. I was put in a bed in the Ambulatory Surgery area, and sat in a room with my folks till about noon.

Nurse Bernadette told me all sorts of rules for healing afterwards, and was pretty nice. She asked a long questionnaire about my health for the anesthesia. She then handed me a sharpie marker to indicate WHICH testicle, just in case, so no mistakes were made. I drew a smiley face on the left one.

I also asked if I could have a hat. Apparently they did not have any pirate hats. Dang! Not even an eyepatch. But lots of sitting, and wondering. Do I need to pee? My balls hurt! Can I poop more? When will this happen? What will I look like after? Can I ever have kids? Why is my mom staring at me with those ‘eyes of pity’? c’mon! POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE HERE!

Around noon they took me to staging, the anesthesiologist put in an IV, then some ‘happy juice’ then I was out. Don’t remember a thing. Woke up in a bed, feeling just fine, thinking “oops, I took a nap”

Then my folks and Sara were there, some brief discussion, then wham, I am in a chair, and on my way home!



So I lay up in the surgery bed in our library/office. (Hey, Jim, I still have it! It still works) And take pain pills, and lay around a lot. I do not feel so great. But I can stand and walk, and try to. Sara makes a little soup, I was a lot hungrier before surgery, after, I just was not hungry at all. But force down some soup, and lay around more.

Dinner is soup and salad, I eat, then lay around. Jack calls, and comes by. We sit out on the back porch and chat. I get up to go to the bathroom, and feel like I will pass out. So I lay down for about 10 minutes, then go back out and chat some more.

Sleep is an Illusion
Sleep is off and on, in 15 minute increments. Everything wakes me up, and I have to pee a lot. My guts hurt where they made the incision. Every time I stand up, my lower belly hurts. Oh yeah, it feels like there is a big honkin gob of mucus in the back of my throat, it will not clear out. I think it is from the breathing tube during anesthesia, bleah.

I miss sleeping with Sara. We hold hands while we are asleep, it is nice. But not Monday. Monday, I lay in Surgery bed, putting ice on my guts, taking ice off, and wondering what is next.

Tuesday, what’s next?
I wake, have some juice, and try to convince my mom to go visit her cousin who lives here. All I am gonna do today is lay in bed, write this email, and lay around more. I looked. Only one ball. Hmm. Looks odd. But not the big huge swollen thing, yay!

This afternoon I phone the doctor, we will set appointment for Friday, and discuss the findings. In best case, they got all the cancer, and I will do some cat scans, and observation. In the not-best case, it spread, and I may have to do radiation or chemo. We’ll hope for best, right?

So now I am laying around in bed, thinking about all the travel I am supposed to be doing in the next few weeks, and wondering what will happen.

Again, thanks for all emails, but please no calls just yet, I am still loopy and tired.

Cool Link!
My sister sent me this link, which was a page Sara and I actually looked at on Sunday night. It explains a heck of a lot about testicular cancer.


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