As I’m sitting on a September Sunday evening on my living room sofa and relaxing, my 16-year-old son walks in and plops down on the coffee table in front of me. My boy had just had his 16th birthday just a few days before and he was so big. What he says is still vividly burned into my brain. “I have testicular cancer mom.”, he states so strongly. It took me a minute to process what he said before I could even speak. I asked him why he was so sure, and he quickly took me to the computer so that I could read all that he had been reading. I didn’t want to believe it but he had done his homework and there were definite signs.
The next morning, we start out as normal, with both the boys heading out to school. At this point Sawyer was in bad shape with the effects of “whatever” was going on with him. But he headed off to school anyway. He had been dealing with symptoms for a couple months and not shared them with me. Thankfully I already had a phone number and experience with an excellent urologist so as soon as the clock hit 9am, I was dialing the phone. I explain to the receptionist what was going on and asked for an appointment. She immediately set us up to come straight in, so I picked Sawyer up from school and we headed that way.
As we sit in the exam room with the doctor, we discuss what has been happening over the last couple months. The doctor asked that I leave the room so that he could do a sonogram. The nurse comes out to the waiting room after a short wait and asks me to come back to the exam room. I can see his face clearly still, the face of the doctor, as he stands and confirms what Sawyer had stated the night before. “It appears Sawyer has testicular cancer”, he says. I want you to go to the lab and get some blood work and return to my office. I was still holding out hope that they were wrong.
Once we finished up at the lab and returned to the doctor’s office, it was confirmed, and more testing was on the horizon to see how far it had progressed. I leave there and immediately get on the phone with my husband and my best friend. This was on a Monday and the rest of the week was a whirlwind. From CT scans, more doctor appointments and surgery on Thursday to remove the diseased testicle. But this wasn’t the only things that needed to be handled. We had to find an oncologist because the CT scan revealed that the cancer had spread into his lungs and a large mass in his abdomen. Chemo and another surgery was coming.
Thankfully I had my sister who jumped right on the research, and she made all the arrangements for us to leave on Saturday to Indiana to meet our new oncologist surgeon. What a blessing it was to have her during this time. We arrived at the oncologist office and they waisted no time. You see, testicular cancer moved fast and the quicker you it hit hard the better your chases are for a grand outcome. He had already determined a plan of action before we even arrived, and Sawyer had his first chemo treatment that night. He was in so much pain from the mass in his abdomen and the fear of what was going on with him had set in. So neither of us got much sleep that night.
The next morning, we were off for another treatment and then in the effort of avoiding thinking about the situation, we did some sightseeing. I was amazed that after the second chemo treatment, the mass had already reduced enough that it wasn’t causing pain, so sleep was promised for that night. We stayed in Indiana for a few days while the doctor made the plans to transfer care to a doctor closer to home.
September to December was filled with doctor visit, chemo treatments, Vitamin B shots for his strength and removing his braces because the chemo was causing sores in his mouth. He was a trooper though. Never really complained and was determined that this cancer was not going to stop his life as a 16-year-old. He continued with his schooling at home and church activities. His sweet friend from church even had a hair cutting party. When Sawyer’s hair started falling out, they all shaved their heads together and we got a group picture. It was sweet!
Chemo treatments were done, and it was time for the next step. Heading back to Indiana for his final surgery to remove what was left of the mass in his abdomen. It was January and the snow was beautiful in Indiana. This was a painful process but again Sawyer soared through it with little to no complaining. As we headed home back to North Carolina, Sawyer wanted to go straight to church because there was a youth event that he didn’t want to miss. I didn’t try to talk him out of it. I figured he knew his body good enough by this stage of the journey and he could make that decision. All his friends were so surprised and excited to see him there that night. I think the most exciting part for Sawyer was showing off his battle scar, stapples and all. The battle scar of an incision from the top of his chest plate to the groin area. He amazed me regularly.
This was just a step in the journey God had planned for my boy. Lessons on being strong, depending on others when needed, and trusting God for his future. Sawyer is now in his 30’s and has 3 beautiful children. God had greater plans for him than this disease could strip him from. And we are thankful.
Please remember that testicular cancer hits men between ages 15 – 30 normally. It is a fast-growing cancer, but the survival rate is high if you act aggressively. Talk to your you boys and sons about the signs of this disease. An easy self-exam could save a life.
For more information go to : Testicular Cancer- Mayo Clinic
Life can throw challenges your way. Either with illness or simple decisions. As a Coach, I would walk with you through those challenges. Helping you draw out things that have been or are bottled up inside and are keeping you from moving forward. I’d be honored to walk with you through this.
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