We, two good friends, diseased in quick succession from cancer. We have now left the disease behind for some time. In the following we want to share our experiences with you.
In May 2007, at the age of eighteen, I was diagnosed cancer.
It was a sunny Sunday and I had breakfast at a handball tournament. I had already woken up in pain, which proved intolerable in the course of the morning. I drove home from the tournament and told my father that I was in pain. We directly drove to the hospital. The time we waited seemed incredibly long, the examination began with a few questions and ultrasound. The doctor phoned colleagues all the time; finally, I got the diagnosis: embryonic carcinoma (testicular tumor). The operation took place immediately. The affected testicle was removed and tissue samples were taken. The CT scan showed a 4 cm large lymph node metastasis at the level of the left renal pedicle.
Three weeks later the cytostatic chemotherapy began. The chemotherapy was performed in three cycles I spent a week in hospital; during this time in which chemotherapy was carried out. This was followed by three weeks of staying at home with one outpatient chemo dose per week. This procedure was repeated twice again. Before the first cycle, cryoconservation of sperm was made to allow me to have children in the future in spite of a possible infertility after the chemo.
In the three months of chemotherapy I felt tired and a little lethargic. If not, I felt sick. There was a metallic taste in my mouth caused by the chemo, which drove me sick. Because of my weakened immune system I had to avoid large gatherings of people. So I stayed at home most of the time and met no other people.
It was very hard for me to see how people around me reacted to my situation. Some friends were shocked and had no idea how to deal with me and my situation. They completely broke down any communication, whereas others were very friendly and kind to me.
Since I just was 18 years old at this time, I was not placed in the pediatric department. I shared a room with adults. The age difference was enormous. The other patients in my room were two men of about 40 and 70. We talked a lot and this was extremely rewarding to me. So the stay was interesting and motivating to me, but the circumstances and the fact that I was the youngest made me feel sad.
The final examination after the third cycle showed that the metastasis had shrunk to 1.4 cm and probably represented scar tissue.
After the chemotherapy I went on a four week stay at a health resort in Black Forest all alone and was subsequently reintegrated in my education.
All in all, nine months were torn out of my life. The restoration of my physical fitness needed a little longer. Today, eight years later, not much reminds me of cancer except for the scars and the bi-annual study.
I think that I have to be thankful to organizations like the German Cancer Research Center DKFZ which are active in cancer research. Without these doctors and researchers my story might be different.