My name is Tom and my journey began in December 2008 at age 31. Testicular cancer claimed me, as it does every year to about 50,000 men worldwide (including 7,400 Americans) between the ages of 15 and 35.
Like most guys, I always used to avoid the doctor’s office. A few years ago when I broke my foot, I even waited four months before seeing a doctor. I was “tough”, or rather, a total fool to have delayed so long. Fortunately, I was blessed when discovering my cancer. I experienced unbearable, intense pain in one of my testicles, up into the nerves of my back; pain is rarely a warning of testicular cancer. It was impossible to be tough and not listen to my body this time. And that pain may have saved my life; the cancer had begun to spread beyond the initial tumor, but no other tumors existed – yet. With the type of aggressive tumor cell discovered, it was likely to spread quickly.
Normal life came to a halt, with immediate surgery followed by several months of intense chemotherapy treatment. Remission became the best birthday gift I will probably ever receive, delivered by one of the angelic nurses while caring for me in the chemo center. It’s a day I will never forget because it meant I would have the opportunity to take the steps that have followed.
During that challenging time and throughout my first year of recovery, I have been blessed with an incredible extended network of family, friends, doctors, nurses, and fellow survivors that give me strength and hope through their love, support, and prayer. Many of those important people in my personal recovery connected with my journey through the resources available within MyLifeLine, which in turn gave me a greater purpose beyond myself to share my story.
Energized by tremendous support, I’ve steadily made my mind and body as unwelcome a place as possible for disease by transforming my mindset, my nutrition and exercise regimens. Through tragedy’s gift I see a different world than I previously did and am now living a healthy and altruistic lifestyle.
I intend to take these first five years of survivorship and thrive by focusing not on healing, but improving; not returning to normal, but becoming better and living well!
In my first year of remission, I shed nearly 60 lbs, normalized my blood pressure, and got myself off of all medications for the first time in years. Many of my own relationships have added layers of amazing depth and value. Symbolically, I hiked up two fourteener mountains here in Colorado about five months after my last chemo treatment, because I visualized doing it while undergoing treatment. Looking ahead, I will continue to honor my good fortune and fight back against cancer every day. I will do hard things I never dreamed possible before experiencing cancer, such as my plans to run my first half-marathon and full marathon later this year.
I will listen and follow the guidance offered by God; I will make a difference in the lives of others. I’ve made it a personal mission to raise awareness of cancer and preventable care, support patients, survivors and families, and encourage continued research advances towards a cure for all. This introduced me to working with multiple organizations and individuals who are also dedicated to cancer’s ultimate defeat. MyLifeLine provided me with a path to connect with others, fight back by generating awareness with my story, and heal emotionally. I hope that it will make a difference in the lives of every person touched by cancer.