Metastatic testicular cancer survivor: A positive attitude was everything for me
In 2001, I was 31 years old, working full time and engaged to be married. I had no symptoms or abnormalities. But one day, I noticed a knot on my left testicle.
After going to see my doctor in Monroe, Louisiana, I was diagnosed with a rare form of testicular cancer. I underwent surgery to have the testicle removed. I wanted the results of my biopsy sent to MD Anderson.
A week after surgery, I received a call that the cancer had spread to my bones, including my pelvis and left lung. I was told that my cancer was aggressive and that my walking would be impaired.
This was devastating to hear. My fiancée and I were excited to start our life together. But she assured me that whatever happened, we would face it together.
Facing the unknown of a metastatic testicular cancer diagnosis
It’s been 20 years, but I still remember everything about my first appointment at MD Anderson. It was on Sept. 11, 2001. The day terrorist attacks fell upon the World Trade Center. Before meeting with my doctors, my then-fiancée and I stopped to grab coffee, and that’s when we saw the devastation on everyone’s faces. We joined the crowd around a TV screen and learned of the news.
I met with care team, including my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Patrick Lin. My treatment plan was an aggressive regimen of five types of chemotherapy, along with multiple surgeries to remove the tumors. Although my fiancée and I were scared, she vowed to stand by me through it all. I was ready to do whatever was needed to beat the cancer.
On March 27, 2002, Dr. Lin performed an internal hemipelvectomy. While this surgery was supposed to remove the tumor and maybe a little bit of bone to stop the spread of the cancer, he had to remove the left part of my pelvis.
With a lot of determination, I was up walking four days after surgery. I completed physical therapy and was even able to continue my favorite hobby, playing golf.
On April 26, 2002, I had another surgery to remove several lobes from my left lung. After spending nine days in the hospital and a lot of hard work, I went into full remission. It is amazing what your body can recover from when you keep your faith and a positive attitude.
A recurrence meant I needed my left lung removed
In 2016, during a routine check-up, doctors found a new nodule on my left lung. My care team decided that surgery was my best option. I had already benefited all I could from chemotherapy.
In 2020, during a regular follow-up scan at MD Anderson, I learned that my cancer had returned for a third time. Nodules were found on several lymph nodes and my adrenal gland. I received two rounds of chemotherapy. Given the complexity of my diagnosis and previous surgeries, my oncologist, Dr. Matthew Campbell, recommended proton therapy.
I started 15 treatments of proton therapy on Oct. 12, 2020. This was to treat the cancer that had spread to my throat and lymph nodes. Radiation oncologist Dr. Quynh-Nhu Nguyen and the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center staff were amazing. They were very compassionate and took my mind off treatments.
I had some mild trouble swallowing towards the end of treatment but was able to keep drinking protein shakes, soups and milkshakes. I completed proton therapy treatments on a Friday and was back to work the following Monday. After facing cancer for 20 years, I’ve learned that you must get up every day and keep going.
Finding compassion and resilience at MD Anderson
The care and support I’ve received from my nurses and doctors have been unbelievable. I’ve already won because I’ve had 20 amazing years with my wife, thanks to the advanced cancer treatments that I’ve received at MD Anderson. My motto has been to accept it, adapt to it and then figure out how to overcome it.
Because of MD Anderson, I’m still able to walk, play golf and enjoy a good quality of life with my wife. I’ll keep doing whatever it takes. Whatever treatment my doctors recommend, I’ll do it so that I can continue to enjoy many more years with my wife.