I had another 3-month checkup at Dana-Farber on Monday. My CT scan and blood work came back normal. My oncologist believes that I’m in the clear now, meaning a recurrence is unlikely. My appointment frequency has been extended from quarterly to biannually, with the next one in December.
We spoke briefly about my Severe Oligospermia diagnosis. The oncologist believes that my body could naturally overcome it, but I shouldn’t wait and hope for that–in vitro is the starting point when ready for family planning.
Researchers at UC Davis published findings last week that linked CT scans with an increased risk of secondary cancers in men with stage one testicular cancer. While this may sound alarming, we need to pause for a moment and realize that CT scans play an important role in diagnosis and surveillance. That being said, this should be a topic of conversation with your oncologist, and it will be with mine in June.
I went in to Dana-Farber for a 3-month checkup today. First, the new Yawkey Center is amazing. The interior of the building resembles more of a modern hotel than a hospital. The waiting areas are extremely open yet still quiet and comfortable. The only slight I have about the new building is the difficulty of finding appointment locations. I’ll admit, I’m somewhat directionally challenged, however it would have been helpful to know that my appointment locations had changed prior to arrival. I was already running late because of weather related traffic and I probably burned near 30-minutes on foot trying to find my first stop of the day. Thankfully, if you appear lost at Dana-Farber, any staff member within eyesight will ask if you need help finding your destination. Also, the receptionists have never given me any grief for showing up late, but I don’t enjoy being disrespectful of their time.
Regarding my tests, I had a chest x-ray and blood work drawn. The blood work shows that I’m clear. The x-ray results didn’t arrive in time for my oncologist to discuss the results. No worries there. We had a quick chat about how my next visit to Dana-Farber will be with my mom, for her own appointment. I mentioned that her oncologist in NH stated that my cancer can be cured, while hers cannot. I pointed out that the folks at Dana-Farber have never said “cured” to me before. I asked if they ever would. It is likely, but too soon for their standards. I’ll be over 2-years from original diagnosis in June. Something like 90% of testicular cancer recurrence will happen by year 2. This means I’m in pretty good shape.
Per the appropriate nudging, I’ve made an appointment to check my fertility. I’m not looking forward to this, but I need to know for certain. My next appointment at Dana-Farber will be in early June. That visit will include a CT Scan.
I had my 6-month checkup at Dana-Farber last Friday. The good news is that my CT Scan and blood work came back cancer-free. Unfortunately, my appointment schedule was switched back to every 3 months. The original switch to 6 months was a miscommunication between the staff- I need to come in every 3 for the next couple of years.
Part of my visit included a discussion about side effects. In the last few months, I have perceived pain similar to what it was like prior to my orchiectomy. This is “phantom” pain and quite common according to my nurse practitioner. I also brought up fertility. There is a high likelihood that I’m now infertile. My insurance company will need it documented before they’ll cover any expenses related to treatment.
My appointment at Dana-Farber came with positive news today. The CT scan results and blood work continue to be cancer-free. I’m now on a 6-month schedule for appointments, with the next one in December. I spoke with my oncologist about my presumed problem with blood circulation, which causes my hands to always be cold. This has been annoying during outdoor activities (e.g. riding my motorcycle). Even when it is 90 degrees outside, I need to have chemical heat packs- the kind skiers use- inside my leather gloves. That makes it bearable, but my finger tips still become cold within about 30 minutes. It turns out that this has nothing to do with my blood circulation. One of the chemo drugs, Bleomycin, causes this side effect. I was told that this is likely permanent.
I had an appointment at Dana Farber today for a CT scan and blood work- all results came back normal. Boring news is good news. A researcher from the Harvard TEAMS study met me onsite to grab a blood sample. I go back in June for another checkup and CT scan.
The chemo officially worked- the CT scan came back with good news. My tumor markers are now well into the normal-person range. I will be going to back to Dana-Farber every 3 months indefinitely to get tested and to visit with my oncologist. Every other visit requires a CT Scan. I’ll probably update this blog each time I go back. My next post will likely be in mid-November.