“Everything Happens For a Reason.”
I am a huge believer in the saying, “Everything Happens for a Reason.” It is something I have lived my life around for quite some time. Now that it was confirmed that the mass on my ball was cancer, it was time to tell my friends and family what was up. Telling people you have cancer turned out to be one of the hardest things for me on this journey. I felt like I was speaking in front of thousands of people and didn’t really know what to say. Calling my dad and mom was probably the toughest of them all. I still remember, sitting in my car rehearsing what I was going to say to them over-and-over again. I knew I would have to be strong and show no signs of weakness to make them feel more at ease with the situation. I made sure when speaking to each of them: Get straight to the point, don’t sugarcoat it, be sure to tell them it’s VERY CURABLE and lastly, that I’m fine.
After my parents were caught up to speed, it was time to inform my close friends. I remember feeling very awkward trying to find a good time to sit my friends down and go over everything. I ended up telling my friend Ben and his girlfriend after a night of going out. It is definitely an awkward thing to start a conversation saying, “So…I’ve been going through some health issues lately, basically I have cancer and will have to have one of my balls removed. I will also have to go through chemotherapy. I don’t know the full details yet but that is all I know.”
Many know that I am a healthy and active person – Playing soccer weekly, going to the gym every couple days and train-often for a marathon. With that, it made it hard for my friends to understand how it could happen to me, not to mention I am the youngest of them all. When telling people for the first time, I found myself having to comfort them and make sure they were okay. I would lighten the mood with one-liner jokes. My go to one-liner was: “So…I have testicular cancer and will have to have one of my balls removed and go through chemotherapy but don’t worry, I’m getting a fake ball that glows in the dark.”
After informing most of my close friends and family members, I decided to go through with the New York City Marathon that took place on November 3, 2013. I had to talk with my doctor for he wanted to operate on me asap following the news received of my cancer on Tues., October 29th. He expressed that he didn’t recommend it, but felt that the cancer I have won’t progress if I pushed my Orchiectomy Surgery (surgery to remove one of my balls) to the following week. From there, I decided to follow through with the marathon. With the race being canceled last year, due to Hurricane Sandy, I was really looking forward to running my first ever marathon this year. After the news of cancer, I wanted to go even more! It would be a way for me to clear my mind, get away from Charlotte, be around so many people that have survived/overcame multiple odds to conquer the marathon and ultimately, finish something I have set out to do. Without further ado, I got on my flight to NYC the day after getting the news about having cancer.
I truly love NYC, I find myself at peace when I’m there, like I’m a part of something bigger and better. This visit to the city was different, this time I was still excited but was also scared and nervous. I was going to see more friends in the city and would have to inform them about my health issues. I ended up having a great couple days leading up to the race – Taking in the city, hanging out with friends, celebrating Halloween and more. Before, I knew it: Race Day!
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience this day – 50,740 runners, 2 million + spectators along the course, 330 million + tuned in on TV and over 100+ countries represented in the race. I couldn’t sleep the night before despite my efforts to get a good meal and pass out early. I was staying in Upper Manhattan and had to make my way to the Staten Island Ferry by 7:45am. I was ready. I was decked out in my marathon gear and hit the subway to make the trek to the starting line. I would have to get on the ferry, then take a bus to the starting line (course map – HERE), find my way to my starting corral and then run the 26.2 miles through the five boroughs and end in Central Park. Through all of the obstacles I had to get through to get to the starting line, I noticed a ton of people running for so many awesome causes (kids, cancer, friends, etc…) definitely a very emotional day! Racing through the streets of New York and seeing all of the different neighborhoods represented was amazing. The city streets were shut down and so many people came together to support positivity and a successful race.
It was the most painful and rewarding accomplishment of my life! It definitely mentally prepared me for what I was about to go through with cancer. I ended up finishing the race an hour plus after the time I was shooting for – Due to a pulled hamstring I got on mile 18. To see my split times visit http://bit.ly/StravyMarathonTime. Due to surgery being a few days after my marathon, I was unable to take any pain medication pre/post race. Looking back, I just have to laugh at the way I was hobbling around the city trying to avoid any kind of stairs if possible, as well as how I was trying to carry my luggage and myself down to the subway. I had to turn around because of the pain. All in all, the New York City Marathon has touched me in more ways than one!
Upon returning from NYC, I went straight back to work to assure I stayed on my normal routine and my mind off of losing a ball in a couple days. Then came Thurs., November 7th – the day my surgery took place. I had decided prior to surgery that I was not going to read into how the procedure was done because it would get me too nervous and potentially scared. At the hospital I was still very sore from the marathon and was stoked to finally get some pain medication to help with it. The time had come to meet my doctors, get prepped and go in for surgery. This was my second surgery in my life, the first one was back in 7th grade when I broke my toe on a growth plate and had to have pins put in it for a couple months. I have been very fortunate when it has come to staying healthy and injury free.
Surgery time…poof – It is over! That is exactly how it feels, I remembered going in and then waking up in post-op. Waking up, I still for some reason thought that the doctors would just chop one of my balls off, instead they go in through the same place they do for hernia surgery (right below my belt line a little off to whatever side I was getting operated on). I don’t know why I had envisioned that. I did however get the doctor to put in a prosthetic ball; unfortunately it does not glow in the dark. All in all, the surgery went awesome and within five days I was back at work, of course moving a bit slower than usual. I tell people that the pain I felt from the marathon was worse than the pain from my surgery.
I definitely believe it was meant to be for me to find out about cancer prior to the marathon so it could mentally push me to finish the race and vice-versa. It could help me get through surgery, chemo and ultimately, cancer. I have two tattoos that have significant meaning. One is a cross and the other is the saying, “Everything Happens for a Reason.” It is written in Hebrew because it is part of my heritage. See, that saying has meant so much to me throughout my life I have it tattooed.
I appreciate all of the support that has poured in over the past couple of days! It has been amazing to see people I know, have not talked to in awhile and people I do not even know reach out to show support! I am trying to respond to as many, if not all. I have also, updated my “Support Me” tab so you can see my chemo schedule. My next post will be about the type of chemotherapy treatment I am receiving and the test I took prior to starting chemo.