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As it Turns Out, I Have Testicular Cancer

May 7th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon



testicles

Originally uploaded by ai pohaku

My friend Rob and I have this ongoing juvenile argument.

He loves to ask people:

Which is better, having one testicle, or having three?

He’d rather have one, he says, because

I’d rather be a little sad than a lot creepy.

I disagree. I’d rather be strange than pitiful, myself. But it turns out I might not have much of a choice.

A few weeks ago, I was doing a bit of a self-test — got to do these things once you’re in your ’30s — and I discovered that one of my testicles was the approximate size and weight of a Cadbury Creme Egg. I made an appointment with a GP who gave it a perfunctory juggle, shrugged, and put me on antibiotics for a week.

It didn’t work. I got referred to a specialist who I went to see today. He ran some ultrasounds, then frowned and called up NYU, sent me across town for an emergency sonogram.

“That can’t be good,” I thought as I got into the cab. But it was all moving too fast for me to think about it.

So there’s this mass growing in the center of one of my nuts, making it all big and really hard. It feels like I could pound nails with the thing. Or really surprise someone in my Muay Thai class. But instead of being useful it’s consumed a lot of the healthy tissue in there and needs to come out.

As the doctor says, if it’s benign, it’s a problem because it could keep growing. If it’s malignant — out it comes, too. The procedure’s called a Radical Orchiectomy, and it’s about as fun as it sounds.

Luckily it doesn’t seem to have spread anywhere, and it’s been caught early. This is one of the few truly curable cancers in the world. Lance Armstrong let his go WAY further than mine, and he’s fine.

But still. Ain’t THAT a bitch. I’m going to lose one of my testicles, sooner rather than later. And I’m not even going to get to lose it to a hungry octopus, or at the tip of a pirate’s saber, or some other cool way. Just to one of the most common, curable cancers in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting a second, third, opinion. And I feel lucky that this isn’t gonna take me out. Or at least not for long. Reproductive health and hormones should still be ticking right along. That’s why we have two of these things, apparently.

But I’m reeling, feeling betrayed by my body and mourning the loss of a body part already. I know it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I mean, SHIT.

So tomorrow’s going to be more doctor’s appointments and blood work, just to be sure. I’m told that I can get a prosthetic testicle put in during surgery if I want one. Not sure what to do about that one just yet. Does it even matter? Or, more importantly: does it cost much extra to get two prosthetics in addition to the real one?

**Update** I just had an idea. I wonder if I could get a musket ball from the Civil War encased in silicone and put in there instead. That could be really cool — keep a little Virginia with me at all times.

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