I am a grateful survivor of testicular cancer.
When I learned of the presence of a testicular tumor in August 1999, at the age of 45, I instinctively began repeating, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” from Psalm 23. Although initially shocked, a calm soon came over me. Understandably, my loving wife and daughter were devastated.
My treatment included surgery to remove my left testicle, three months of rigorous chemotherapy, a retro-peritoneal dissection for the removal of more than 40 abdominal lymph nodes and an 18-day hospital stay.
One night during my treatment, I realized that although I had been surrounded by love and the best medical professionals, my fate was simply between my God and me. I knew then that all would be well, regardless of the outcome. So I resolved to be a messenger and not a victim of the disease.
Becoming a messenger and not a victim was not new to me. At the age of 21, I suffered from a severe drug and alcohol addiction that almost took my life. However, through the loving care of my counselor and sponsor and my continuing involvement in a 12 -step program, I got, and have remained, sober ever since. It was there I learned that to remain sober, I had to “give it away to keep it” by sharing my story.
So, my fellow testicular cancer survivors, I share my story with you so you know you are not alone. Having the disease is nothing of which to be ashamed. Know that testicular cancer is one that can be treated quite successfully. Also know that you need not fear cancer or allow it to control you emotionally or spiritually. Instead, use the disease to daily appreciate the gift of life as well as your loved ones, gifts that are easily taken for granted.
Spiritually, use the disease to improve your faith and relationship with God. If you do, you will see, as I have, that good can come out of something as bad as cancer.
I have been blessed with success as a civil trial attorney, a profession I never would have sought if not for the drug and alcohol treatment I received. It took a shy, insecure young man and turned him into a confident and passionate advocate for injured victims.
Likewise, I was blessed by my bout with testicular cancer. To help me cope, I began studying the Bible and soon realized that along with my law practice, I should do more to serve God and others. I consulted Pastor Carol Coleman, who encouraged me to enter part-time ministry. I am now the Pastoral Leader of Albright United Methodist Church, a role of which I would have never dreamed had it not been for my bout with the disease.
So if you have been diagnosed with testicular cancer, know that you do not have to be a victim of it. Instead, become a messenger by sharing your experience, strength and hope, always remembering, “you have to give it away to keep it.” Godspeed.