Tragedy Happens when it’s Too Late
April 2, 2013
A cancer diagnoses changes you forever. You never forget the moment it came. John F. Kennedy once said: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, the other represents opportunity”. My diagnosis was definitely a crisis. It was frightening news, but at the same time one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened to me.
How on earth can one admit that cancer is a beautiful thing? Let’s be clear – I am by no means saying that cancer is good. However, the silver lining is that I was immediately awakened. I found myself realizing that life can be taken away with little to no warning. I made amends with long lost friends and loved ones. I became so much closer to my family. I even became a much bigger fan of baseball and the other hobbies that I loved. The one problem was, I had cancer.
I was standing in line at AT&T Park getting ready to see my beloved San Francisco Giants. I went to the game hours early with the hopes that I would get my hands on one of their bobblehead giveaways. After standing in line for hours, I began to experience intense back pain. I had a very hard time waiting and found myself sitting on the ground quite a bit with the hopes of the pain subsiding. After a few hours, I finally made it into the park with the very valuable Joe DiMaggio bobblehead in hand and was ready for a very exciting day at the yard.
As the day progressed, the pain did not go away, and I had to leave the game early. I knew that something was wrong. As I was reaching for my train ticket from my front pocket, I experienced a great deal of pain coming from my testicle – a feeling that I’d never experienced before. Knowing my body, I took a deep breath and confirmed that something was definitely wrong.
When I got home, I called my mother. I told her, “Mom…something is wrong and I think I have cancer.” She was taken aback by me saying this and told me to remain positive. Something my mom has always reminded me to do.
I went to see my Urologist and told him about my symptoms. After my examination, he admitted that he felt a nodule on my testicle, but he felt I had nothing to worry about and recommended an ultrasound only for peace of mind. What I had going for me per the physician is that “I was too old (I was 33 yrs old at the time) and that “symptoms are rare.” I had the ultrasound and 13 minutes later I was told that my testicle needed to be removed right away. Basically, act now and ask questions later. I had a ‘crisis’ on my hands.
Fortunately, the cancer was caught at one of the earliest stages possible (Stage 1B, localized, but beginning to spread). But I never saw it coming; there was no history of cancer in my family. How did this happen, and why? What did I do to bring this on? What if it hadn’t been caught early?
Can you imagine a world where testing and early detection would be the standard, and cancer would be that much closer to being solved? I can. The key to winning the battle against cancer is being able to defeat it long before it takes us and our loved ones. I strongly believe early detection testing and technology will become standard someday. We must be vigilant, strong, and as my mom has always reminded me to do, stay positive. Cancer as we know it will be a thing of the past. Someday, cancer will lose its battle.
About the Author:
Eric Henderson is a survivor of testicular cancer. He is a clinical medical assistant with Stanford Vascular & Endovascular Care. Follow him on Twitter @TheHendu.
About The Video:
Eric’s video is a submission for our #WhyIRideCanary Campaign, featuring the stories of Canary Challenge riders and the reason they support cancer early detection research. To learn more and to participate, visit our campaign page.