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Can this really be happening to me?
That’s odd – a small lump on my right testicle. Where did that come from? Off to see the urologist.
So when he told me it may be cancerous – although he couldn’t confirm without a biopsy – I started to freak. I could see the color draining from my wife’s face as he explained the process/procedure to us. We have both lost spouses to cancer and the pit of our stomachs continued to get bigger with every passing minute. Well, it needed to be done – so off to the Operating Room.
Yes – I said, Operating Room – the OR – surgery. Most biopsies involve small incisions and taking a piece of the tumor for analysis. Not so simple for this I’m afraid. (Here comes the gross part) The process to determine if a testicular tumor is cancerous involves a 2-3 inch incision in your abdomen. They go in and reach down through the top of the scrotum and pull the testicle back up and out. As it lies on your stomach, a portion of the tumor is removed and immediately analyzed. If it is cancerous – the entire testicle is removed – on the spot.
This all happened in one day. Moving at the speed of light, we didn't have time to think about the ‘what if’s’. We never had time to really ask questions – hell, we didn’t even know what we needed to be asking. The furthest thing from our minds was what this would do to our sex life.
One boulder short of a full load
I woke up in Recovery and vaguely remember the urologist telling us, “it was cancerous, and we got all of it.” He was sending me to oncology for follow-up treatment. So there you have it: I had cancer and now only 1 testicle. In the week following surgery, the questions started to fill my mind. Some internet research told me I have nearly a 100% chance of recovery – however I did not find any discussions on what this would do to our bedroom antics – if anything.
The first couple of days felt like I'd been kicked square in the nuts – a feeling every guy knows well. My scrotum had turned into a gigantic bruise – complete with all the pretty colors. As the colors faded, so did the ache. On about day 4 I felt relatively normal again.
Other than the obvious question (is the cancer beast gone?), I didn’t know if my plumbing still worked. On about the 5th day after surgery I took matters into my own hands and found out. Yes my plumbing still works. Whew!
Is it time for a nap yet?
My oncologist is really cool. He is very open and honest, with an incredible sense of humor. I had a 99% recovery rate after 3 weeks of daily concentrated radiation treatments.
Side effects: nausea, diarrhea, loss of hair around the radiation site, possible impotence and fatigue. We had a very frank discussion about sex and he assured me that the radiation treatments would not give me radioactive semen and would not have any glowing effect on my wife. Providing the incision was healed and I felt up to it, we could safely resume our normal sexual adventures.
Everyone responds differently to radiation treatments, but for me it wasn’t so bad. Nausea: Prescription meds made it a non-issue. There were only a couple of times when I had some minor problems. Diarrhea: Over-the-counter stuff took care of any issue ‘down there’. Impotence: not an issue for us. 10 kids is enough. Fatigue: This killed me. I wasn’t a walking zombie or anything like that, but I could easily take a nap anytime and anywhere. When the lights went out at night, so did I. This was probably the biggest issue impacting our sex life – I was just too tired.
There is sex after cancer
So every day for 3 weeks I drove an hour, roundtrip, to the clinic for 3 minutes worth of radiation pointed at my groin and abdomen. Spent 8-10 hours at work, ran the kids to and from wherever they needed to go, and then got them to bed (Mama works afternoons). By the time 10pm rolled around, I was done. You want to have sex tonight? Umm, okay. Wake me when you’re ready. My wife was very understanding, and very patient. She was also not afraid to take matters into her own hands, which, as it turns out, was quite an adrenalin boost for me, usually ending the way we both wanted and needed.
It’s been 9 months since surgery and treatment. Radiation related fatigue has long been gone and the plumbing works like it should. Sex is back to being incredible. What about the fact that I'm now lopsided? I’m one fry short in my happy meal. My wife and I have always been very open about sex and nudity, so this was not an issue for us. From day 1, she has supported me and we have laughed about it on numerous occasions. (Oh yeah. That one testicle fits in that one hole quite nicely. Something you guys with 2 might have a little trouble with. Try it.)
Nothing has changed – she still likes to hold the ‘little one’ when we go to bed and cuddle. I had no idea that so many jokes could be twisted around to fit my ‘one-sided condition’. You have to laugh. It happened, it’s fixed, life goes on.
Just remember, avoid the Almond Joy bars – stick with Mounds.
Born and raised in Mid Michigan, Martin divides his time between coaching community baseball, Boy & Girl Scouts, and working for a large computer company. His wife of 10+ years is his rock and soul mate. Sexual get-a-ways, escaping for the weekend, or just plain locking the bedroom door are common in our relationship. Being a father of 10 kids (yours, mine and ours), there isn’t much he hasn’t seen or been a part of. “Our children are taught, by example, that a successful relationship is based on trust, respect, and communication – with a healthy dose of passion thrown in. As the children get older, we are also very open about sex. Sex-ed in school does very little for my kids.” In his free time, Martin likes working on his mini-farm and writing. The erotic fiction he writes for his wife has never been seen by another set of eyes, but maybe someday that will change. You can email Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.