Salgood Sam ● Com

Illustrator, Cartoonist & Writer

My Little Friend

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I’ve been keeping some stuff under the hat for a bit.

A few people have known, very immediate family and a few I was dealing with at the same time this was going on so the work I was doing with them would be affected. I eluded to something being up a while back that was keeping me from posting my comic for a couple of weeks.

But seeing as I had no idea till just two days ago exactly what I was dealing with and I didn’t want to have to think about putting worried minds to rest till I had answers, or have people treating me differently–the less time I spent thinking about it myself the better for me–I chose to wait on sharing. Honestly while I’m a private person in some respects that was hard for me. I’m not one to keep stuff bottled up.

FYI if I saw you recently or talked to you and didn’t mention it, that’s because mostly I was still digesting the latest news and waiting to see how it sat before I spilled. Just know I’m good, and I wasn’t blowing smoke when I said things are well. I’m going to be fine in all likelihood, feel very good health-wise now and not down at all about this recent turn of events although it’s been a surreal ride for sure.

So to catch you up.
And maybe let you know me better then you expected to ;)

For a while i’ve had some discomfort and occasional mild pain or cramping in the groin, that I was attributing to being out of shape, too many hours at the damn desk! Like many men I didn’t give it a hell of a lot of thought, though more recently it had become more constant and I was starting to worry about it. But last year I’d been given the brush off over health concerns by doctors and was feeling less than eager to get the same again.

Then late last year a relative had one of his testes removed for what ended up being a benign tumour. But we didn’t know until after the holidays his was benign, and talking about it with my mother I was alarmed because he had similar symptoms leading up to this as I was having.

So I booked an emergency appointment–taking full advantage of the C word and news of my relatives situation on the phone with the doctors office to make sure it happened that week and not a few months later–and had it checked out. Long story short, blood tests showed nothing before the holidays, but a mass was visible in an ultrasound I had done in mid February, and a week later I had an operation to remove the affected testicle. I was given a prosthetic at the same time.

On the right here is a sketch from memory of the ultrasound image. —>

That went smooth, very, interesting experience. My first surgery. Strange to have people poking around inside you for sure.

Opted for a local/spinal and was up and out by the end of the day. It took the better part of the week resting up in bed mostly but healed up fast. At this point, other than a little tenderness on the scar things feel back to normal, better than, really. I was probably getting some wonky estrogen levels from the tumour that were making me feel off before, more hyper sensitive than usual, and made my tits hurt! :) All that is gone now and my energy seems to have spiked since. Feels great.

Two days ago I got the results from the biopsy of the tumour. The news was not as good as it was for my relative, but it was the next best. I had a classic Seminoma tumour, small (pea sized), stage 1 with no detectable vascular intrusion, and nothing appeared to have traveled up towards the vas deferens, which is good because it means it was probably still isolated to the testes. Here’s a wiki link for some more info–warning, pictures! With all these links :) And they aint sexy.

Now anything I could have had short of stage 3 would have very good odds for being curable, even stage 3 is not a death sentence.

Testicular cancer is one of the most curable today.

But this is a great scenario to have if you’re going to be dealing with this kind of thing at all.

They got it early he said, so my doctor thinks the odds are pretty good they will have cured it with the operation. I’m going in for a CT scan to check out nodes soon and everything else, we’ll know after that for sure if I’ll need any follow-up treatment. Hopefully they don’t find anything else new when they go looking! If they find nothing then I’m looking at…

-surveillance, which is on the books no matter what. I’ll be having regular CT scans for the next year or so.

-possibly a short round of localized radiation therapy targeting the lymph nodes in my back

-or two rounds of chemo.

Both are to make sure we kill off any free roaming mico-tumour cells.

On the other hand if they find anything in my CT scan, depending on what it is, I’m looking at the latter two of those for sure. Successful treatment in any case is just about certain. About 97% are cured with stage 1 Seminoma. So not benign, but at least the next best thing.

Ok, so that’s the news! Hope I’ve not freaked anyone out too much!

UPDATE- 18/04/11:So I’ve had my follow up CT scan, and the news was good! My doctors want to keep and eye on my lymph nodes, they spotted one in the pelvic region they were a bit concerned with just due to it’s proximity, but at the moment it looks fine. So all clear and lucky me, no radiation or chemo! Way to go for early diagnosis and treatment. 

So why post this?

Well a couple of reasons. First, to help get people to be less freaked out by this kind of cancer and cancer in general.

It’s a serious disease, for sure. But the worst thing is having an intense fear of it and not dealing with it. If you’re at risk not getting checked out will NOT protect you from anything.
And as puke inducing and harsh as some of the cures can be, they are far better than the disease.
Don’t be a wuss, if your nuts hurt get it checked out dude! And don’t be too prissy to do this for yourself on a regular basis. Mine didn’t really show up this way but yours may. 

Of course if I can help it I will be happy not to have to do chemo or radiation therapy. But I’ll be lucky to be so lucky. And far better to feel like crap for a little while then feel like death before dying.

Partly–No, really all of what has made this such a curable disease is Science and Research. So, I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the hard work that has gone into make this–really for me?–an almost painless experience.

I’m lucky in this, which is not the case for all people. But for everyone who gets it testicular cancer is now so far from the horror show compared to what it once was. The medicine is good, and thank Tommy Douglas for Canadian health care. I’ve not had to think once about financial consequences.

An immense help, that. You have no idea, unless of course you do.

Also the knowledge and resources available online are amazing. In the future I’ll try to post something more comprehensive, but these links alone were the biggest help for me.

Responses (2) to “My Little Friend”

  1. Joel Rivers says:

    Thanks for sharing. This is important stuff. I am a bladder cancer survivor (I was 27) and have had my own run-ins with this kind of stuff. It isn't easy to deal with and/or talk about and guys like to pretend this can't/won't happen to them. We've never met face to face, but you've been stand up, giving me art pointers and sharing your time, so you need to talk, I am here! PEACE,
    Joel

  2. Melanie says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with everyone Max…Testicular self examination is as important to men as breast self examination is to women, but nobody ever talks about it.Looking forward to hearing of the successful conclusion to this journey.