You go through tests, scans, and perhaps a biopsy only to hear a phrase you never thought a doctor would say to you: “You have testicular cancer.”
It’s never a good day to hear that your body has cancer. The diagnosis can be both terrifying and depressing. Yet an estimated 9,310 men in the United States alone will hear these words in 2018.
As April holds the banner for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, we want to take a moment to talk about not only the facts, but also the less talked about aspect of this cancer: how to deal with a diagnosis.
What is Testicular Cancer?
Most common in young men between the ages of 15 to 35 years of age, testicular cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the testicles: a male-only organ whose purpose is to develop hormones and sperm. Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Lumps or swelling in the scrotum
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Weight Loss
- Pain in the lower back
Dealing with Diagnosis
It can be hard to wrap your head around life after diagnosis. Learning that you have cancer can trigger a wave of emotions as unruly as a choppy sea. How do you move forward after such a life-changing diagnosis?
Feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger are all common reactions. However, this kind of emotional duress has a significant impact on not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. Mindset is everything when battling cancer of any kind, which is why it’s important to remember you’re not alone in your diagnosis.
Take advantage of your resources. Patients with social, familial, and emotional support have a better quality of life than patients who do not. Lean on others and take the time to educate yourself on the cancer you have as well as your options.
Education helps put some control back in your hands. You may not be able to erase your diagnosis, but you can understand your options and make your own choices on how you’ll tackle it.
Talking to Your Doctor
Don’t sit back and expect your doctor to tell you everything you could ever want to know about your cancer diagnosis. This is your personal wellbeing, and you undoubtedly have a long list of questions regarding your diagnosis, your treatment options, and what life will look like post-diagnosis.
Think about the questions you have regarding your testicular cancer. Have you identified what type of testicular cancer you have and what stage it is in? Is it advanced? What are your treatment options, and how will those treatments impact your quality of life?
You may not know all of your questions upfront, but you can begin educating yourself on your diagnosis, your choices, and what to expect on the road ahead. Write down all of the questions you have for your doctor and research available resources for emotional and financial support.
Before you decide on a treatment plan, know the pro’s and con’s. Ask if there are short-term and long-term side effects as well as how other patients deal with those side effects. Testicular cancer can be treated in several ways, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three.
Your doctor will help you determine the best treatment for you based on your diagnosis and personal preferences.
Life After a Testicular Cancer Diagnosis
Many men experience lifestyle changes after a testicular cancer diagnosis. Yet you can still improve your quality of life and overall health by choosing a proactive approach to a healthy life. Be your best advocate. Embrace a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Be patient with yourself and mindful of your recovery. Don’t dive into your daily routine or work before you are ready.
Men who have endured testicular cancer may struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the feeling that they’ve lost their masculinity, or a fear that the cancer will return. If you find yourself struggling with these or other difficulties due to your experience, reach out for support.
Remember, while you didn’t choose to have cancer, you can choose how you respond to it. Take the reins, be your own advocate, and don’t be afraid to lean on others for support.
Gulfshore Urology is a Urology Office located in Southwest Florida. We have locations in Naples and Bonita Springs. To set an appointment, please call 239-333-3200.