In May 2008, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 32. A few days after being diagnosed I had surgery and my testicle was removed (Orchiectomy). A couple of weeks later, I found out I would need chemotherapy because the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. During chemotherapy, I developed a deadly infection and had to be hospitalized for close to ten days. My immune system was disabled. Family, friends, doctors and nurses had to wear gloves, face masks and robes to prevent illness or long term damage when treating me.
Luckily, I was able to fight off the infection with antibiotics and was able to resume chemotherapy. My tumor markers went down to normal levels. Unfortunately, two of my lymph nodes were larger than normal and my oncologist recommended that I have surgery. I was referred to an urologist who specializes in a procedure called (Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection). It is a complicated 8 - 9 hour surgery where major organs are moved aside while the lymph nodes are removed. The surgery was a success and I was cancer free!
After the surgery, my CT scan showed a pocket of fluid and I was told it was “nothing to worry about,” but over a year it grew by a few centimeters. Again, my oncologist referred me to the same urologist who said they would “keep an eye on it” and that “it was not cancer.” Several more months passed by and it grew to 7 centimeters. Again, I had to have another Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection. The urologist said that this was “very rare.” The operation was a success! My surgeon was shocked that my organs and tissues showed few signs of any previous surgery or cancer! He was excited to tell my family that everything “looked great with no signs of cancer.” My family was thrilled and relieved!
A couple of weeks later, I was informed by my surgeon that the biopsy showed cancer cells. My CT showed a large spot on my liver and my oncologist informed me I would need four rounds of aggressive chemotherapy right away! I fought like hell! I ate very healthy, took herbs, exercised and avoided stress and drama as much as possible. It worked and over the last year I have been cancer free!
My wife and I were thrilled and decided to start a family. A fertility doctor informed us that we would need to try IVF. After many tests, they learned that my wife had hyperthyroid disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome. These conditions make it difficult to conceive. We also found out that I could no longer produce sperm. The only sperm doctors could use for IVF was frozen before chemotherapy. There was no doubt that IVF was our only option. Pregnancy was becoming more and more, unlikely.
During IVF injections, my wife was bed ridden and very ill. After all of the treatments, we anxiously awaited word from the fertility clinic. When they called to tell us the news of whether or not we were pregnant, they told us “maybe.” Cheryl would need to take more blood tests. A week later they informed us we were pregnant! We went in for the ultrasound after Cheryl was eight weeks along.
We were really excited! The fertility doctor joked with us about having “twin boys” and told us that based on Cheryl’s symptoms, it sounded like she was pregnant! As he was performing the ultrasound, he said, “What’s that? It looks like she has a bleed.” It was a miscarriage! He performed another ultrasound a week later and confirmed it was indeed a miscarriage. We decided that Cheryl would take medication to avoid having surgery.
We were told she would bleed, but that it would clot, eventually, and it would be controlled. After taking the medication a few hours earlier, nothing was happening. At 11 pm that night, Cheryl woke me up. She was hemorrhaging, badly. I rushed her to the hospital where she blacked out in the waiting room. They put her on IV for the day and she recovered, successfully.
I do not want Cheryl to suffer anymore. During our battle, she was laid off her job. She also had to have nine teeth implants and major dental surgery to combat a rare dental condition called oligodontia (she had mostly baby teeth and only a few adult teeth). The procedure was needed to help her eat and prevent her jaw from deteriorating. Her surgery was a success and she has made a full recovery! Despite everything, Cheryl and I have a lot to be thankful for and want to move on with our lives and be leaders, not victims. We want to heal and recover, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
My wife and I are in need and we are asking for your support. We want to have a family without going bankrupt, or putting ourselves in financial jeopardy. I was on disability for over two years and my wife was unemployed for eight months. We have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars on dental work and IVF. We may have to try IVF many times and put ourselves in an even more vulnerable position. Our battle may just be beginning.
Today is a day you can make a difference. Today is a day you could make a direct impact in the battle against cancer and help build a family. We want a family more than anything. We dream of watching our kids create a lifetime of memories. Please help this dream become a reality. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Colin and Cheryl