Robert is a husband, father and United States Coast Guard. After this cancer diagnosis, Robert founded his own website, CheckYourNuts.Net, to raise awareness for testicular cancer and take back control from cancer.
What is your cancer diagnosis and how was it discovered?
Stage IIIA Testicular Cancer. It was initially discovered through self-observation and symptom recognition. My cancer diagnosis was medically confirmed through pathology from my removed testicle, pathology of biopsy performed on a mass in my chest formed as a result of my cancer metastasizing, and tumor markers that were present in my blood work.
What is the biggest piece of advice that you have for newly diagnosed patients?
Do your homework. Do NOT just be along for the ride. Make every and any attempt to fully understand what you are being told, ask your Medical Oncologist as many questions as possible to help you fully understand your diagnosis, treatment, and what to potentially expect. The night before any appointment after your diagnosis, write down any questions or things you would like clarified so you are not trying to recall questions from memory. It is particularly helpful to have a caregiver (family or friend) at your medical appointments. There is inevitably some part of a conversation you are going to misinterpret or miss all together. This is especially important in the event that you are given information that you are not expecting. A caregiver can act as a neutral, fact-based 3rd party that can help you record information that is provided during your appointments.
What is the most important thing you learned from your cancer experience?
Each day is different and things change constantly. One day you can feel great and the next day you may feel terrible. One day you feel like you can conquer the world and the next day you are stuck in your feelings and can't seem to find a way out of them. You have to set out each day to Win The Day. Let yesterday's victories stand on their own two feet and do not borrow worry about tomorrow.
What was the most difficult aspect of organizing your care/community?
I was blessed with an amazing support structure that was already in place that stepped up big time for me without hesitation. The difficult part was later during my chemo treatments when things started to become "routine". The text messages dwindled and the number of people that checked up on me diminished as they moved on with their normal lives while I was stuck in "cancer mode".
Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have on your personal experience.
How each person handles their diagnosis and their treatment is unique to their personality, their situation, and most importantly the type of cancer and treatment they are going through. You absolutely cannot compare your story to anybody else's; good or bad. I made the conscious choice to attack my cancer and my treatment, to put a smile on everybody's face that I encountered, made my story public through social media and my website (https://www.checkyournuts.net) to help raise awareness, and everything that has happened that I could control I did control. I did not naturally attack my cancer with strength and optimism. My mental and emotional state throughout my diagnosis and treatment were deliberate decisions. There was nothing that I could do about my cancer diagnosis, but I could control how I responded to it. Receiving a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment changes a lot. Your normal day-to-day life pretty much gets put on hold, but that doesn't mean that you stop living.
Robert says that during a cancer diagnosis:
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