Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Cancer Update #4: What’s Up, Doc?
August 4, 2007Posted by on
Friday was a big day. The week of the unknown was about to end. We sat in the doctor’s office as if in an AP Biology class, pens poised to capture every new discovery from the last week. Good news: the cancer is stage 1, the earliest it could be. Bad news: further treatment is still required.
There are two treatment options, both with pros and cons. The older and more tried method would be a major surgery called RPLND. It is dangerous and risky, but the rewards are fairly certain. Testicular cancer follows the same route in each person it attacks. Once it spreads past the testicle, it moves north towards the lungs and brain. First, though, it must pass through lymph nodes in the lower back and abdomen. It is like a train traveling on a railroad track. The purpose of the surgery, then, is to take out the tracks so the train cannot proceed. To do that, the surgeon would need to get to my lower back lymph nodes. My belly would possibly be opened and organs taken out and set aside just to accomplish this. Hence the danger. The positive to this method is that we could be sure the testicular cancer would be finished. The negatives range from smaller nerve damage to death. The tough part about cancer is that it can reside and grow in your body for a time without showing up on blood tests and CT scans. The benefit of this surgery is that the cancer could never come back. Recovery could range from one to three months.
The other route, the newer one, is chemotherapy. 70% of testicular cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy finish cancer-free and do not experience relapse. For the remaining 30%, the cancer continues to grow unchecked and the RPLND surgery becomes necessary. Obviously, chemo would be no walk in the park. Potential side effects are hair loss, nausea, significant weight loss, and energy depletion. The routine would require me to keep a strict schedule of doctors’ appointments, shots, CT and x-ray scans. Though it is less extreme, it is not as proven as the RPLND.
The hardest part of all of this? The cancer may actually be gone right now. Doctors are without a way to tell. There is no easy decision. The next week will be spent hearing professional opinions. Hopefully many of them. We’re doing what we can to make contacts and get my paperwork before oncologists and pathologists. A decision will need to be made very soon. Please pray for anointed connections and wisdom in discerning a path.