Hello everyone! My name is Dan Carroll, hailing from Northern Kentucky (burbs of Cincinnati, OH)
May 20th, 2005. It was the release date for Star Wars episode III which I had been excited about for months prior. What I didn't expect months prior was that May 20th would also represent the day I would be officially diagnosed with Testicular Cancer.
It all started sometime in early 2005, I noticed my right testicle seemed slightly bigger. Of course at 24 I had no clue what that meant and just brushed it off. I kept on going, living my life. Around April, my appetite fell off and by the second week of May not only had I really become worried about the size of my testicle, but it really started to hurt. Even then I had not made an appointment to have it checked, but I did go to my family doctor to check into some issues I was having with swallowing food (which later turned out to also be a side effect of the spreading cancer). Luckily, during an abdominal ultrasound, they saw the spots that would alter my life forever. They immediately rushed me to CT scan and within 24 hours I received a call from my doctor that he was referring me to an oncologist.
After my appointments with Dr. Danneman (oncologist) and Dr. Shay (urologist), as well as a right orchiectomy to remove my right (large egg sized) testicle - I was diagnosed with stage IIIc seminoma. I eventually went through 4 rounds of initial chemo (BEP). The followup blood testing and imagine showed great progress, the spots which had taken up residence in my adbominal areas were all but shrunken to extinction, and the tumor marker blood tests came back with values considered to be normal in male subjects! I was free! Out of an abundance of caution, Dr. D decided that I needed to have a consult with Dr Stephen Williams & Dr. Richard Foster (associates of the famous Dr. Larry Einhorn at Indiana University Cancer Center). In reviewing my case file from Dr. D, Dr. Williams decided it would be best for me to undergo a procedure called an RPLND (retroperetonial lymph node dissection). During the process of that surgery, they found non-seminoma that had developed in an area that they could not safely extract the cancer without a significant risk of damage to the blood supply to my kidneys. So, they put me back together and I went home to recover. I received the second fateful call within a week of coming home that after much studying of my case compared to similar cases, the course of treatment that would give me my best case of beating cancer would be to have a combo of another 2 rounds of chemo, this time it would be ifosfamide which I could have injected slowly over the course of a week, followed by (2) autologous bone marrow stem cell transplants. This was a dark time in my life, as I felt like I was never going to be cured, and I also had to overcome the death of my father in the months that I was going through the transplants.
For the transplants, I had to go through a rigorous pre-transplant regimen consisting of every test you could think of. In the week prior to my first transplant, I would also have a 3-fingered external port placed in my left chest just above my heart. This is so they could hook me up to a machine that would extract my blood, separate the good white blood cells from the bad, and harvest them for the transplant. For the transplant, I would check in to the Cincinnati Jewish Hospital where my transplant doctor Randall Broun was based. I would have a rest day to get settled in, then I would undergo 3 days of ultra high-dose etoposide and carboplatin which would essentially wipe out every living cell in my body in attempt to eradicate the disease. Following that, 2 days of rest followed by the actual transplant of my healthy white blood cells back in to my body. 2 more weeks of rest and monitoring and then I would be released to await my next transplant. Following the 1st one, I stayed at a place called the Hope Lodge - which is run solely on donations to the American Cancer Society. I went home for 3 weeks to recover - me pictured below!
Here is another photo of me - this time during my second transplant. I took a selfie before selfie's were a thing!
After another transplant and some minor complications, and then some followup imaging and blood work - I entered partial remission! Partial because I had a weird varation of a rare disease, so I had to go through 5 years of post treatment followup (beginning with quarterly, then bi-annual). I entered FULL remission on May 20th, 2011!!
Today, I happily report that as of the writing of this bio - I am celebrating 11 years of remission on May 20th, 2017! Here is a picture of me today, hard at work!
I discovered the TCAF Ambassador program like many of you - on Facebook! I have become encouraged in all of the stories that I read, and I now feel empowered and motivated to share my story and do my part to help bring and keep testicular cancer to the forefront! When I went through my battles, it was still an extremely rare disease. It has since picked up steam, and I think this program is a great way for me to help people in need! People like you, who are looking for someone to talk to about what they are about to endure. I want to do my best to help make sure that young men don't have to take the path I took. While the cancer itself wasn't something I could prevent...taking the necessary steps to detect and get checked out MUCH SOONER could have greatly reduced the burden I had to bear.