Just Diagnosed Now What?
My doctor just said I have Testicular Cancer. What should I do now?
No one wants to hear they have or may have testicular cancer. We can't tell you that from here on out it is going to be an easy road. There is no magic pill to take to make everything go away. However, there are a few things from our experiences that will help immensely.
Things to Do:
Yes, we know being told to relax isn't going to help your situation. However, take a deep breath and consider a few things.
Testicular cancer is a highly treatable cancer. The survival rates are one of the highest of all the cancers. Look at it this way, if you are going to get a cancer, testicular cancer may just be the best one to get. Testicular cancer is a diagnosis and not a death sentence. The overall survival rate is greater than 95%. If diagnosed early, while the cancer is confined to the testicle, the survival rate is 99%. If the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes the survival rate is 96% and even if there are distant metastases the survival rate is over 70%.
We understand no one wants to have testicular cancer but you are not alone. More than 195,000 men in the U.S. are testicular cancer survivors. It can be the toughest challenge of your life but things will slow down and return to normal eventually.
Be A Self-Advocate:
Self-advocacy is an ongoing process of taking an active role in your cancer care. It involves becoming educated about testicular cancer, your treatment options and effectively communicating your needs with your treatment team, friends and family. It involves identifying your goals, needs and plans. You need to advocate for yourself. This doesn't mean that you have become an island and others are not allowed to help you. Many times being a self-advocate means teaming up with a family member or friend when you need help. Be active in understanding what is going on, ask questions when you don't understand and feel confident in the care you are receiving. In cancer care there is no "no news is good news." If you don't hear about your test results, call the doctor and get them. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship has an array of tools to help you including the publication Self-Advocacy - A Cancer Suviviors Handbook and a comprehensive Cancer Survival Toolbox. The Lance Armstrong Foundation also has a LIVESTRONG Guidebook that we have reviewed and highly recommend.
Know Your Treatment Options:
The Testicular Cancer Treatment Profiler is a decision based tool that uses your diagnosis, test results and medical history to help you better understand your treatment options. It provides you with an individualized treatment options report that includes descriptions of the treatments, side effects and questions to ask your doctor.
Get 1-on-1 Support:
Having a great support team of friends and family when fighting testicular cancer is essential. However, having support from someone who has been there before, who has battled testicular cancer, who has walked in your shoes, can make a world of difference. A person who has faced the same challenges you are about to face, has made it through and can help give you advice along the way has made the journey so much easier for thousands of other cancer fighters. Imerman Angels, founded by testicular cancer survivor Jonny Imerman, will match you with a testicular cancer survivor. They match similar characteristics such as age, stage, marital status, etc. We have had the pleasure to personally meet Jonny Imerman and he is a man of incredible energy and passion who is determined to make everyone's battle with cancer easier. You can also read a personal letter from Jonny Imerman.
IMERMAN ANGELS - ONE-ON-ONE CANCER SUPPORT: Connecting CANCER FIGHTERS, SURVIVORS and CAREGIVERS
Imerman Angels is a "one-on-one cancer support service" that partners a person fighting cancer ("Fighter") with someone who's beaten the same type of cancer ("survivor"). One-on-one relationships give a fighter the chance to ask personal questions and get support from someone who is uniquely familiar - a survivor.
This free service helps anyone touched by any type of cancer, at any cancer stage level, at any age, living anywhere in the world.
Create a Page:
You may be thinking, "I was just diagnosed with testicular cancer, why would I want a webpage?" Well, the answer is two-fold and the pages are simple to set up. One, a lot of people are going to be wondering about how you're feeling and what they can do to help. Honestly, you are going to get tired of repeating the same things for every conversation. Two, if you need help paying bills or paying for your cancer treatments a page will allow you to do that. Give Forward, allows you to set up a free profile page that you can send to friends and family so they can follow your treatments, etc. It also allows them to send their wishes and make donations, if needed. You will hear a lot of people say, "Let me know if I can do anything." We know it is hard to say to someone, "I need money to pay my bills," "I need help cutting my grass," or "I need a ride to treatment." Your profile page allows you to do just that. You can update the page as often as you would like or have a friend or family member update it for you.
GiveForward provides free fundraising pages that empower friends and family to raise money for loved ones' medical expenses. The website has helped thousands of families to raise millions of dollars for things like chemotherapy, organ transplant and travel expenses. Visit their site for GiveForward testimonials and fundraising tips.
Another option, if you don't need help financially but want to update your progress would be CarePages.
Think About Fertility:
Your doctor should talk to you about preserving your fertility, such as sperm banking. However, studies indicate this is not always what happens. Many doctors may elect or forget to discuss the issues with you. You may have to be the one to initiate the conversation. Testicular cancer, surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy don't automatically mean you will be infertile. However, you should have the information you need to make the right choices. Fertile Hope, is a LIVESTRONG initiative dedicated to providing reproductive information, support and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.
In 2008, the news about Lance Armstrong expecting a fourth child was exciting. "This is a hopeful thing for testicular cancer survivors," CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. "It means his body healed from the chemotherapy and surgery." Lance had faced intense chemotherapy leaving him infertile. His first three children were from sperm he had banked prior to treatment. However, his fourth and fifth child have been conceived without any artificial fertilization process. While the information does bring great hope, you should still get as much information as you can before treatment. Visit Fertile Hope for its Fertility Resource Guide.