That 45-minute procedure was all I needed to discover I was cancer-free.
My fears went away temporarily when I heard it was prescribed by Dr. K for me. I had no idea what a lymphangiogram was. A blue dye, called contrast, would be infused into the webbing between my first and second toes on each foot. Then a small cut would be made, and a tube inserted into the channel.That was the easy part.
A very rough-and-tumble radiology tech entered my room. The tech said, “when the lymphangiogram is over, I’ll sew up the little cuts.” I figured he would give me some shots in my foot and stitch me up. Instead, he handed me a large white towel and said, “Put this towel in your teeth and bite down, you’re going to want to punch, kick and hit me, but please don’t.”
What I felt was a blazing, scorching, torrid fire in my toes. The pain was more excruciating then if I would’ve touched the sun itself. The doctor asked if I required a cup of ice to chew to help ease the pain, I screamed, “No please make it stop!”
In total, after the dye was injected, the procedure took less than a Catholic Mass, but it felt like an eternity. I was disoriented, self-conscious, dizzy and awkward. I recall I said I felt like Superman, sounding dumb, to someone at the hospital I was trying to impress.
But it was then that I embarked on a life change, a new beginning. No more feeling sorry and melancholy. Although I was afraid of a blank page in my journal and scared of being together with someone of the opposite sex, I was prepared to be more than a survivor. I had my life, great family and friends. God gave me a second chance.
The day I was released to go home I told my doctor and myself I was going to get plenty of rest so that I could wake each morning feeling refreshed and ready to race another 5k. I discovered attention to myself was what I needed to focus on to shut down the fear of cancer returning — focusing on anything else would not be beneficial.
The clock reads the time as it is set. There are no products to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent testicular cancer. However, that did not stop me from looking back and wonder what I should have done differently. But those thoughts were soon replaced by inspiration to a new way of life.
I saw the world differently. I saw things almost like stars colliding. Now I could see myself growing older, being more educated on my health. I’d been given the opportunity to have a second life. It’s a joy which is aligned with my excitable natural attitude.
Months later, I felt quite well and energized, emotionally and physically. Although I was not going to climb a mountain any time soon! I found myself at the moment having a feeling of coming from off a ledge. Euphoria came over me like ice-cold water on a 110-degree day. A rush of adrenaline. A life worthy of swimming back up to the top. To breathe again.
A Roller Coaster
Nine months after the unnerving surgery, Dr K advised that friends and others would continue to be cautious about asking or wanting to hear my experience. My hometown newspaper wanted to interview me, the local runner and cancer survivor. I wanted to be left alone, or to talk just about running, not my cancer. My euphoria, over a new chance in life gave way to the grind of work, school and life as a 20-year-old.
I became sensitive, sometimes crying or becoming irrationally angry over insignificant issues. It would be great to be happy again. I was unsure of whether the removal of my testicle had this effect on my emotions, specifically, if emotions and negative thoughts were caused by less testosterone. Maybe having one testicle was a more psychological puzzle than a physical loss. I viewed every day the same just like the movie, “Groundhog Day.” The day I got the “all clear” one year after surgery, my eyes were opened again. Everything was bright. I did not fear my life changing. Being positive, healthy and alive was above all things.
I saw an opportunity to be me. I thought, “Why not train for a marathon.” At least I might get the feeling of a runners high.
It’s Working for Me
I believe if it were not for running the world would be a much different place for me. Now, running is a large part of my story. Chapters are full of my races and the friends I met because of running. After running the Chicago Marathon, I felt complete. But my desire was incomplete. I wanted to run another.
This post was written and submitted by a CURE reader. The article reflects the views the author and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
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