A Love Story. . .
Dane and I married on July 23, 2010 and on top of the world.We were best friends for 13 years prior to marriage and we were ready to start a family.
Three months after we got home from our honeymoon, Dane started having lower back pain.All visits to orthopedics, back specialists, etc. had the same diagnosis: a pinched nerve or a slipped disk.He was losing a lot of weight saying he didn't have an appetite because of the pain medication the doctor had given him. After receiving a complete pain block and it did not work at all, Dane went to his regular doctor to have a complete physical to find out what was going on with his body.At 8:15am, May 20, 2011, I received a call from Dane telling me that the doctor found a tumor in his left testicle.I rushed to the hospital to be by his side.Dane was so calm and collected, he told me that it was just a little bump in the road and that everything would be fine.
The following day, Dane had the entire testicle removed. The tumor was sent for testing, and the doctor said positive things stating that no other treatment will be needed.Five days later the doctor called and told us that it was a cancerous tumor and that Dane will need weekly blood labs to test his cancer markers.Treatment was never discussed at this point.On the fourth week of blood work, Dane’s markers shot through the roof and I rushed him the emergency room because he was in terrible pain. It took two weeks, undergoing numerous tests to determine that Dane’s testicular cancer had spread to the bone.They said he must start chemo immediately to save his life.Dane was already nearly half his normal weight by that time.Before starting his chemotherapy treatments, Dane banked his sperm to further the chances of having a child.
Chemotherapy went well the first four months; he was planning on going back to work because he was feeling well.Then the pain started to come back. A complete MRI showed the cancer had spread throughout his body.The doctor made some adjustments to the chemo and stayed positive that the new treatment should work.
A month later, Dane started getting severe headaches.After having the same headache for four days, Dane woke up from a nap and his right eye was swollen and sticking out from the socket.I rushed him to the ER and they confirmed that Dane had a tumor behind his right eye, in his sinus pocket, on the outside of his brain.Following that diagnosis, Dane had sixteen rounds of radiation to his face and brain, in addition to the chemo. All scans were clear after the radiation was completed, which was wonderful news, and his eye eventually went back to normal. We thought it was just another little bump in the road and everything would be fine in the end because Dane was a fighter!
December 2011, seven months into treatment, Dane's doctor caught my mom and me in the hallway outside his room and said the cancer is no longer responding to chemotherapy treatments and it is continuing to spread.The doctor said he has tried all types of chemo designed for testicular cancer and it was not working. He presented me with the following options: get a second opinion and potentially change doctors; reach out to MD Anderson; get in touch with UAB to see if he would be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.I can still picture the look on the doctor’s face telling me all this as my mom held me so tight. My biggest fear was telling Dane the bad news.I walked directly back into Dane’s hospital room with a smile on my face like nothing was mentioned.After we ate dinner that night, I told Dane that I needed to talk to him about something important.Dane said, “If this is about me dying, it is not time for that conversation, I am fine”.I responded by saying “I know baby”.What the doctor told me haunted me to my core, but hearing how sure Dane was about his recovery, I believed him.If anyone could survive, Dane could.We didn't talk about it, but we both knew what was happening and our lives changed for the worse after that day.
Dane saw a new doctor for a second opinion and got accepted into UAB’s Bone Marrow Transplant Program.We thought that a bone marrow transplant was the only option left to save his life. The day of his BMT, they sent us down for an X-ray of Dane's hip because it started bothering him over the weekend.The X-ray showed that his hip was broken (cancer inside his bones made them very weak).We immediately scheduled a hip replacement instead of the bone marrow transplant.Dane was unable to receive chemo during the healing process. The physical therapy after hip replacement was very tough and lead to other health issues.Dane's cancer was eventually deemed unmanageable and we were let go from the transplant program.Dane was put on hospice 3 months after his hip replacement.
Dane and I took advantage of the time that we had left together and I took care of him until he could not hang on anymore.
Dane was misdiagnosed for 8 months and did not receive the right medical protocols from the very beginning. Had he been diagnosed correctly in October 2010 when he first presented signs and symptoms of testicular cancer and been treated correctly, the outcome would have been much different.
All young men should be aware of this disease knowing that it is the leading cancer in men 15-35 and can strike at ANY AGE. When caught early, the survival rate is over 95%, and often chemotherapy and radiation are not needed. Men, starting at age 13 or sooner, should practice monthly self-exams and talk to a doctor IMMEDIATELY if they notice ANY change.Testicular Cancer can spread FAST, and normally starts with a painless lump on one testicle.