A Young Man Faces Testicular Cancer
Why it's so serious.
Aug. 7, 2000 -- I was 23 years old and invincible. Or so I thought. Then one
day, playing softball in a suburb of Chicago, where I live, I got kicked in the
groin by the nice guy playing shortstop. When I checked myself out in the
shower later, I found what felt like a ball bearing inside my right testicle,
as if one end were hardened.
So I did what most guys would do: I put it out of my mind. Or tried to. I
couldn't believe it was anything serious. My wife and I had just married. We
were closing on our first house. I was in the third month of a new job.
Everything was going great.
Then I noticed the testicle was getting larger. Finally I made an
appointment with my primary care physician -- and started what turned into a
The visit with my doctor took exactly 20 minutes. He set up an appointment
with a urologist the next day who examined me, looked me in the eye and said,
"You're a smart kid. I'm glad you came to see me."
When results from a blood test and an ultrasound came back, the urologist
sat down with my wife and me and gave us the news: There was a 95% chance I had
cancer. Getting kicked in the groin during the softball game hadn't caused the
disease, of course; it had just prompted me to check things out in time to
catch the tumor, which was already there. The testicle had to be removed right
away, the urologist said. I couldn't believe my ears.
Just like that, I had become part of a trend: I had likely been stricken
with a form of cancer that has, over the past three decades, increased in
frequency an astonishing 60% (according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention), striking mostly young men like me. The doctor probably told me
that it was a very curable cancer, but I was in such a state of shock, I could
barely understand what he was saying.