Early last week, I noticed a dull ache in my groin and lower abdomen. I assumed it was something I ate, but as the pain continued, I made a critical and uncharacteristic decision to go to the doctor. On Thursday, August 16th, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
The facts are these:
1. Testicular cancer is a young man’s disease. It is the most common cancer among men in their 20s and 30s, and there are no discernible causes known at this point other than a family history and/or pre-existing conditions present at birth. I have none of these, so basically it’s bad luck.
2. I will be fine. The odds are ever in my favor to see out an entirely average life expectancy. The path ahead will become more or less complicated as test results come in, and I am prepared for whatever might be in store.
3. I will have a procedure called an orchiectomy to remove the cancerous mass from my body this Wednesday afternoon. Hence, the title of this note. I must give credit here to H. Alan Scott for having a way with words that I envy and also for being my instant ally and confidante in this new reality.
4. My spirits are high! Though I’m admittedly nervous about Wednesday, the love and support of the family I was born with and the family I chose at Tufts and here in Chicago have made me feel very safe in the face of this most unexpected bump in the road.
5. I have never been afraid of a challenge and I certainly don’t intend to get in the habit now. As my friend and colleague Pat Dwyer reminded me, if Lance Armstrong can win the Tour de France 7 times after beating this thing, I am still well on my way to being the Secretary of Education. :) Truly though, I am encouraged to think that I will absolutely be able to greet my students on the first day of school in two weeks. Perhaps a little worse for wear, but with a smile nevertheless.
In closing, here are some more words from H. Alan Scott who puts it better than I can:
Basically, touch your balls and if something feels funny, go to the doctor! More info here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/14231-testicular-cancer/