The Gippy Pages


Cancer verdict: Stage IIC Seminoma

Apr 17, 2015 | Cancer, Life | By Shawn Parker

Got in to see an oncologist yesterday. Not the oncologist that will be administering my chemo, but the first Oncologist that I could get in to see and get more information from.

Stage IIC, which I’ve also seen referred to as “Bulky Stage II”, means:

  • Cancer found within the testicle or surrounding tissue
  • Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen
  • Extensive retroperitoneal node enlargement of > 5cm

My largest lymph node is approximately 5.7cm across (almost 2 1/4 inches). They’re normally 1cm in size. My untrained eye (with the help of the oncologist) noticed at least 3 nodes larger than 5cm. More at various other sizes. That certainly explains the dull pain and discomfort in my abdomen.

For reference, while I had multiple small tumors in my testicle, the largest actual cancer tumor size was less than .25cm. Its weird to think how differently the tumors in the testicle and metastasization in the body can be so different.

Preliminary treatment schedule

While I have yet to see the oncologist that will be administering my chemo I’m most likely in for a 4-cycle regimen of a 2-drug cocktail. Each cycle being 3 weeks with the first week being 6 days of drug administration with 2 weeks off. There’s likely to be a mid-term examination at which point we’ll evaluate whether a step up to a 3-drug cocktail is necessary. I want to try and avoid the 3 drug cocktail to begin with due to the increased risk of long-term respiratory side effects.

Not to jinx it, but an RPLND is currently not on the table. If the lymph nodes respond well to the chemo then I’m free and clear of the extra surgery. If not, well, shit…

My plan is to take the full 12 weeks as a leave of absence. Details pending a meeting on Monday with HR. If I’m feeling well enough during the off weeks I may ask work for some small item or bug off the backlog to give me something to feel productive, but that’s not a certainty. The wife is going to, for the most part, do the same.

Mental Status

I guess the reality of this is still setting in. Hence my writing this at 3am while I cannot sleep. I’m glad that I now know what I’m in for, but at the same time I’m now realizing that this is actually happening. Before it was just speculation, now its a reality, and I’m starting to get scared. I know that getting scared doesn’t do me any good. It’s an involuntary reaction that I’d love to do away with.

The world keeps turning

At the risk of sounding all “woe is me”, there are a couple of things that have particularly bad timing here. I just need to vent a little about:

  • This computer is dying. OS X 10.10 is surfacing a fatal GPU bug that was fixed in a long-gone warranty service program. Sure, I always **want** a new computer, but I don't want to **PAY** for a new computer, especially when this one is still very peppy now that it has an SSD in it. Ugh. Especially considering that… Edit (2015/05/20) This has been rectified with a little bit of retail therapy 😉
  • I’m gonna need to purchase the stands for my new bike. And, naturally, because its a BMW not just any stand will do. I pretty much have to prepare it for long term storage. I’m gonna miss riding while I’m down.
  • Changes were being discussed at work. Good changes. Interesting projects were in progress and in the pipeline as well. This makes me sad. But, alas, work will be there when I get back and Twilio is always working on new and interesting things to tickle the developer brain.

All that sounds petty considering the larger picture. But the realization that daily life is still happening is a weird thing to take in. Between my ears my world has stopped. But everybody else goes on. That’s tough to think about. And also thinking about how I maintain a connection with that world is tough. I’ve never been one that finds it easy to ask for help or finds it easy to reach out to others, even if just for a little human contact.

I think a crash course in re-learning how to interact with those at work that I consider to be friends, while not being at work, is coming. My family, and my wife’s family, are all in Colorado. I’ve got some family here in California but they’re scattered. My social fears and insecurities are definitely going to be tested here. My parents are talking about coming out and visiting, and I’m looking forward to that, but that’s just 2 of 12 weeks.

This is going to put strain on my marriage. It won’t kill it, I’m confident of that, but it’ll definitely test us both. In our 15 years of marriage we’ve been through some interesting struggles and always come out stronger for it, but nothing on this scale. And nothing that requires one to actually take care of the other. If I get through this without being hit by a frying pan I’ll be amazed 😉

Tagged as: cancer, chemo, diagnosis, seminoma, stage, stage iic, tgcc