It all started at 2pm while I was at work at Slabtown when I started getting chest pains. At first I thought I had pulled a muscle, but the pain started to intensify and it started to spread around my left side and my back. It became more and more intense as the minutes went by. I tried lying on my back to see if I could alleviate the pain, but it didn’t do anything.
Then I went online to see what the trusty old Internet had to say, and it said HEART ATTACK!! Every site I visited said I was having a heart attack and to go seek medical attention immediately. I of course decided to wait a few more minutes. I let the cook know that I was having these chest pains and he jokingly said I was probably was having a heart attack, and then noticed my face turning white and started taking me seriously.
At almost three o’clock I decided to just go to the emergency room. I went and told the cook to watch the bar and call people to come in, but I couldn’t be there one minute more, and as I was getting ready to dash the six blocks to the emergency room, a customer came in and ordered tequila. I poured it into a tumbler glass, but she really wanted a shot glass, so I poured the shot into a shot glass and she then pounded the shot against the bar and took the shot and paid me. I gave her change and I dashed out the back door towards the emergency room.
I called Sharon immediately and left her a message to let her know that I was having chest pains and that I was going to the emergency room. I started having shortness of breath and I looked up the street towards the hospital and I thought I might not make it. Would I be found lying in the street somewhere on Marshall with an arm outstretched towards Legacy Good Sam?
I made it to the 22nd & Marshall entrance, but was unsure on how to make it to the emergency part from where I was. This lady who worked there asked if I was looking for something, and I told her I needed the emergency room. She said she’d walk me there. We waited at the elevator, but the next elevator was going down, and we needed to go up so she asked me if I was okay taking the stairs, and since I was still having terrible chest pains with shortness of breath, I was just wanting to get there, so we took the stairs and went down the hallway to the emergency room.
The magic code to get into the emergency room is, “chest pains with shortness of breath”, and I was brought to a room immediately. The next few minutes were questions and prodding and listening and an x-ray and doctors, nurses, technicians and then they were all gone.
I was then taken to get a CT Scan. The kid pushing me noticed I had a Slabtown tattoo on my chest and said he and his band has played there a few times.
I got to go into the CT Scan and go back and forth through a halo with a spinning middle. I was asked to take a deep breath and hold it and then breath. Then the radiologist shot me up with iodine and told me that it would get really hot for a minute. I started going back and forth through the halo again and then I was hot inside, almost like really hot tea going through my veins and then it felt like all the hot tea went out of my asshole – which it didn’t.
I went back to the emergency room and waited some more and Sharon showed up and shortly after that my parents. I felt silly being in the emergency room. I felt like I had traveled all the way up to the emergency room to find out I had a pulled muscle or two. I had wasted the medical staff, Sharon, Slabtown and my parents’ time for nothing.
Finally a doctor came and said that they had found black masses all over my lungs, but did not look like typical lung cancer, so the radiologist made the suggestion that it might be testicular cancer that had spread to the lungs. The doctor before me was an attractive female who then asked to look and feel my testicle. How could I say no?
She felt my left testicle where a tumor had grown. She said she was admitting me into the hospital immediately. I was taken up to the 4th floor and was told to wait while they figured some things out.
My brother and my friend Travis came by and hung out with me. It was nice just shooting the shit and not worrying about what might happen the next day. I felt so trapped in my bed. After Travis and Danny left, they put in a code into my bed that makes an alarm go off if I get out of bed, so I had to call a nurse every time I had to go the bathroom.
I was told I couldn’t eat after midnight because I was going to be taking some tests that required an empty stomach. I was going to have my balls ultra sounded and a biopsy of my lungs. The biopsy would either be shoving a scope down my throat or a spike through my back. I was hoping for the spike through the back.
The next morning I was waiting around for any of the tests on an empty stomach and no coffee and no cigarettes and totally baffled. Finally in late morning I was taken down to have my testicles ultra sounded. The girl doing the ultra sound was young and attractive and rubbed a jelly covered wand back and forth on my testicles while we discussed the real estate in Tigard and Multnomah Village. When she was done it looked like I had had sex with Slimer from Ghostbusters.
I was taken back upstairs and waited some more. One female doctor and a female medical student came in to do a check up and they too checked my testicles. Then another female doctor came in and she checked my testicle. Then a third female doctor came in sat on the bed and said, “I’m going to talk straight and fast…”
I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I would either go into surgery tonight or tomorrow to get my left testicle removed and I would start chemotherapy the next day. She said it was stage 3, but it was still treatable. The cancer had spread into my back, my abdomen, and my lungs. They wanted to get a lower half CT Scan as soon as they could.
I kind of just accepted it all right there. There wasn’t really anything I could do at that point other than just have cancer and listen to how to not have cancer anymore. They called in an oncologist who also talked straight and very fast and Sharon scribbled meticulous notes to share with my family in email updates. So far on this fucked up journey, Sharon has been my rock. I am the luckiest dude on the planet.
She explained the chemotherapy and the side effects and the ‘if this happens then we’ll do that scenarios’. At this point everything was happening so fast. I couldn’t keep up and I just knew that my life was changing drastically. I wasn’t worrying about dying, or losing a testicle or pain. I just knew that I was going to experience something that will change me. I watched my mom go through cancer twice, and I could tell she changed. Some of my friends who have had cancer had changed. I was a normal 37 year old dude working at a bar earlier that day, and now I was losing a testicle.
I remember being alone for a few minutes while all the doctors; my parents, Sharon and nurses were gone. I started balling. I don’t know if I was sad or what I was sad about, but I just balled. I was reading one of the emails Sharon had written to my family and the love and detail she put into that email just started me balling. I cried hard.
Then I was wheeled down to surgery to get rid of my left nut. All the doctors and nurses were very nice and explained everything to me in easy to understand details. I was then wheeled into a room and as I was breathing through a mask…
…I came to in another room and I was sore and groggy. They wheeled me up to my new room on the sixth floor where us cancer folk hang out. My parents and Sharon were there waiting for me. I was out of it so details are a little hard.
I know that Sharon spent the night and that at 11:30pm a nurse cam in to put in a PIC into my arm and string a line through my vein to my heart for all the chemicals and drugs I was going to get in the next few days. She took until one in the morning to get it in and that included a wise cracking x-ray tech to join us to make sure the line didn’t make any wrong turns.
Unfortunately Sharon had to go to work that next day with little to no sleep. I get a nurse who comes in at 4am to check my pulse, blood pressure and temperature. Then another nurse comes in a does some other things and basically no one sleeps in hospitals.
Now it was Thursday morning and I had written that I had testicular cancer on Facebook. I thought it would be the easiest way to let people know. I had written another note on Facebook on Tuesday evening and more than half the people responding thought I was telling a joke or having another psychosis, but the second post has gotten up to 144 comments of love and support and for some reason 26 people liked that I have testicular cancer. I was flooded with phone calls, texts, emails, FB messages, tweet messages, people I didn’t even know reaching out to me through mutual friends. I couldn’t believe the love and support I got. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and I knew that I wouldn’t have to go through this alone.
My sister in law works here at the hospital and she would pop in when she could. A friend of mine also works here and he came up and really made my day. My best friend, Jon has come by a few times and always knows how to cheer a one balled man. Sharon has been in and out and making sure that every piece of news gets written into her notebook and made into a detailed email for my family. She even made a Microsoft publisher schedule of my chemo regiment.
My boss, Doug has come by a few times to let me know not to worry about work and even suggested doing a benefit concert to help with my medical bills. My friend and sometimes-creative boss/guru, Max wants to do a GoFundMe to also help with medical bills and other expenses. My friend Lizz who I haven’t seen in years sent me some funny videos of a friend of hers who dealt with cancer.
I’m a lucky man. I hate that it took cancer to understand the love I have in my life and that I’m not alone. I get lonely, and sometimes I blame others for my loneliness, but I’ve never been alone. Sometimes I have to reach out and sometimes they just come in and make me not alone. Sometimes people in Spain and Greece and other parts of the country reach out and remind me that I had enough of an impact on their lives to warrant sending me love and hope.
I’m here till Monday. I’ll be getting chemotherapy everyday till then. Chemo takes everything out of me. I’m beat to hammer shit after I sit there with these chemicals cycle through me. I feel so fatigued after the sessions. I wish that I could entertain all the people that want to come through, but I also have to make sure I get the rest and care I need. It was hard to tell people that I needed some time before letting them visit. It was hard to not say yes to every request I got, but it got overwhelming and I would fall asleep and not return text, email, fb message, fb comment or phone calls.
I am having a few people over Saturday to watch the Ducks play and I think I can hang for a few hours with my homies.
If you sent me a message: thank you. You’ve touched me more than I show.
I’ll get through this. Cancer sucks and fighting cancer sucks, but I am going to get through this and I will survive. And it’s been easier because of all of you. I love all of you.