Margaret's Testicular Cancer Story
Written by Margaret
I have had this urge over the last few weeks to ‘tell our story’…well, not really “our” story because I am sure if you asked Boyce, his memories, fears and thoughts were very different from mine. Given that Cancer happened to him and affected him in different ways than it affected me.
My first experience with cancer was Boyce’s childhood friend Johnny. I knew he had testicular cancer, but I did not really understand it. Boyce and I were dating when he got the call from Johnny’s mother saying they were losing him and to come to their home as soon as possible. It was a five hour drive and we left that day. When we arrived, I was so incredibly uncomfortable. Johnny was sick, really sick, and it hurt me to even look at him. The worst part was he knew the cancer was winning the battle in his body, and I could read it on his face. We left two days later and returned the following week for the funeral.
When I first asked Boyce about the change in his testicle, he said that he was not concerned. Which was exactly what I wanted him to say. Over a few months, the changes got more noticeable and I would continue to ask him if he thought it was okay. My eyes begging him to reassure me, which he always did.
I left on a business trip to DC, and he called me to tell me that more changes had occurred and he was going to call the nurses help line on his insurance. He spoke to the nurse, and she asked if there was any pain. “Nope, no pain.” Great, she assured him; any pea sized lumps? “Nope, just a rock hard testicle.” Oh, good, she replied….any other changes in your body? “No other changes, I feel fine,” he told her. She ended the call by saying these were all good signs and she did not feel the need for him to go to the doctor. Or if he wanted to go to be sure, there was “no hurry.” He hung up and promptly made an appointment with a urologist.
When he called to tell me he had made an appointment, it was like being told a secret that you really already knew. I acted a bit surprised, as if I did not see the need for the doctor, but deep in my stomach I had already feared it. Truthfully, I did not want him to go to the doctor. I just felt like maybe it would just go away on its own. I felt like a coward.
That weekend I was pretty quiet, which if you know me is out of character. July 11 came and I knew his appointment was at 1:15 p.m. I felt so stir crazy at work that I decided to take myself out to lunch. I called my Daddy and confessed that I was terrified it was cancer. He tried to reassure me, but nothing worked. Boyce called at 1:30 p.m., and I picked up the phone and asked if they had cancelled his appointment (knowing they needed more than 15 minutes to check him out), and he just blurted out, “Honey, it is cancer; they are sending me to the hospital.” I squeaked out like a tea kettle that I did not believe him; I needed to talk to the doctor. The doctor got on the phone and asked if I was steady enough to drive myself...that was all I needed to hear.
When I got to the hospital I had to wait in the ultrasound room for Boyce. I felt very small and weak for the first time in my life. I just wanted my Daddy, I just wanted to go home or run away from there. I felt I could run for weeks. There was a little girl in the waiting room with me. She looked up at me and said, “I swallowed a penny, and it is right here,” pointing to her chubby belly, a tight little Strawberry Shortcake shirt straining to cover it. I started to cry. But I decided that was officially a “cute” reason for being in the hospital. I wish Boyce had just swallowed a penny -- the weight on me felt like he had swallowed a Buick.
It all started that day. All the days of chemo, RPLND, tests, scans, blood clots, blood transfusions, fevers, 911 calls, hospital stays, waiting, worrying, praying, crying, and even laughing…it is THAT day that haunts me the most. Boyce always says he ‘knew’ he was going to get better. He never questioned it. But the truth is, as his wife, caregiver, mother to our eight-year-old son, I didn’t know he was going to get better.
I have struggled with many hard days over the last one year and four months, but during my low moments, it is this day and these feelings that I find so difficult to resolve in my mind.
I am sorry to have rambled…I just needed some place to put this. Maybe someone here can relate. Sometimes I miss the blissful ignorance when I thought cancer happens to other people…but not to me.
Love and more love,
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