Cancer, Chemo and Courage

After deciding that he should see his family doctor, Zad made the heart sinking trek to find out his fate.

He went to see his doctor that the insurance required him to use. After being there and the doctor telling him he definitely had testicular cancer, he went for blood work. While listening to two nurses argue about the doctor and about how they will draw the blood, he saw another nurse he knew and she asked about his birthdate. The arguing nurses had put his birthdate in the system incorrectly. As he left the room where he had his blood drawn, the doctor started talking very loudly to Zad in a crowded room about young men and testicular cancer. In hindsight, he always feels like he probably had a HIPPA lawsuit on his hands.

He got the referral to see a specialist. At that time, the specialist said he could not confirm the diagnosis. Either way, though, he needed to have surgery to remove the testicle, as it was either truly cancerous or was going to keep causing pain.

They removed the testicle and biopsied it. He wanted to put it in a jar of formaldehyde. When he went for surgery, as he was being prepped, Zad asked the doctor for a brass ball prosthetic. The doctor asked how he could joke at a time like this, and Zad told him, “There is no use crying over spilled milk.”

He went into surgery, and they ripped his testicle out through his stomach at his belt line.

At one point in this journey, he decided to put “screamin semen on ice,” as he says. To this day, it’s still stored. He always joked with his friends that if he ever used a vile, the baby would come out freezer burnt.

He continued to have blood work done. His tumor markers were going down, which is good, but suddenly, the markers shot up. The specialist suggested at that point that Zad start rounds of chemo.

His surgery was done in Lancaster, where he lived, but he had to go to Kennett Square or Brandywine for chemo – about an hour drive each way. Chemo lasted a few hours. Talk about a fun ride feeling like shit, like you’re going to puke every second and every bone hurts from chemo.

He had a week of chemo and two weeks off. Those two weeks were spent feeling like he was going to throw up and not wanting to eat a single thing and laying in bed. When he moved his head, his pillow was covered in hair from hair loss. When he showered, all of his body hair, eyebrows included, would fall out. He decided to just buzz his head at that point because it was just annoying. His skin felt weird. His mouth always had a funny taste. There were sores in his mouth.

He had to get a shot that cost a $1000 each several times, thankfully insurance covered it, that would boost his bone barrow to produce more white blood cells.

He always says it’s pretty wild to lay in bed and feel every single vertebrae. To get to the bathroom, which was about 10 steps from his bed, he had to use two canes, because he was so weak.

Not being able to go out or see friends because of his now compromised immune system was rough. There is only so much you feel like doing when stuck at home.

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