The outlook is good. Great actually.
I've had two oncology appointments and another CT scan. Both CT scans showed no evidence of metastatic disease (cancer spread). The chest CT did show a node on my thyroid, but that's what you get for looking.
My options are as follows:
1. Observation. Do nothing, basically. Check back every 6 months or so and see if something comes up. This option has an estimated 20% chance of cancer recurring at some point in the future. Some studies have shown that it's an estimated 15-20% chance of recurrence in the next 5 years. My doctor said I'd probably have about a 20-23% chance of seeing cancer come back, based on some of the factors in my case.
2. Radiation therapy. This has been the standby for germ cell tumors for the last 60 years. It's effective, it's fast, and there are usually no immediate major side effects. It reduces the recurrence chances to about 5%. It does however permanently damage the marrow in your spine. Not a lot of damage, but there would be damage of some kind.
3. Chemotherapy. Carboplatin specifically. Not really as bad as TV makes it out to be. This option has seen promising results for treating germ cell tumors. With some more studies, it could become the default method of treating this type of cancer. The estimated recurrence rate would be about 2-3%. Pretty darn good if you ask me. Also, no lasting side effects or damage.
From my research (of which there is a TON to find), I am leaning strongly towards chemo. Doctor says that with an anti-emetic I shouldn't feel nausea, I won't lose any hair, and I'll only have to go through one session. I would be wiped out for about a week, the first two to three days being the worst, but should return to normal pretty quickly afterwards. While I don't really like the idea of the experience, the benefits far outweigh a week worth of suffering.
I meet on Monday with a naturopathic doctor to learn some more about options not covered by general western medicine. We use essential oils in my house, and I have great faith in the effectiveness of some of them, so who am I to turn up my nose at what they might have to say. Even if they don't have a treatment for my cancer, there might be something they have to say about recovery from chemo and other things that might help. I won't know until I ask. Keeping an open mind to learn everything before making a decision.
On Tuesday, I have the radiology consult appointment. This is to learn about what radiation therapy can do for me and how it will address my chances for recurrent cancer. I wasn't able to find enough information online about this specific treatment to feel confident that I had the whole picture. I will go into the appointment with a bunch of questions, but unless they have some magical words for me, I'm only going to make sure I'm fully informed.
Thursday is an education day for chemotherapy. I get to spend an hour with the nurses going over the details of the process and recovery. After my school session, I meet with the doctor again to make sure all the bases are covered and I am ready to undergo treatment.
Friday, the big day. Unless plans change, I will go to the cancer center in the morning and start my treatment. Should take about an hour and a half total time. Then I go home and sleep for the entire weekend; I choke down more water than I have ever wanted to and I ride it out.
I don't really feel like the title of cancer survivor really applies to me. In my world, I had cancer for about a week and a half. All of this monkey motion is just tying up loose ends and covering my bases. I will come out of this experience cancer free and moving forward with life, as if nothing ever happened. I'm not qualified to stand in the ranks of people who have gone up against much more serious cancer and won. While that may be self depreciation, I'm fine with it. I bear no heavy weight, I carry no title belt. I'm just a regular guy who is missing a testicle.