It was a harrowing week for a 21-year-old.
On the Thursday, I went to York Central Hospital and had a chest x-ray, CT scan and blood work done. Then on the Friday, I went through my first surgery. They removed my left testicle.
There were complications. I was losing blood, which put me back into the hospital three hours after my surgery in order to undergo another surgery the next morning. I had ¾ of a litre of blood removed from my scrotum. They couldn't stop the bleeding so on Saturday (January 6th), I had a syringe, never before used in this scenario, to stop the bleeding. This type of syringe had previously been used to stop bleeding in the liver. This was its first use in this scenario, and fortunately, it was a success.
I then was admitted to The Princess Margaret. I had to recover for six weeks. I was told I was not to walk and was confined to my bed each one of those days. During this time, I had many friends and family members visit me. My house was never empty.
After this, I fell into a depression and was constantly mad at everyone, including my parents, who I asked not to visit or speak to me.
I finally stopped using my cancer as a burden and used it as fuel to drive me to accomplish anything I put my mind to.
I participated in my first charity event -- the Underwear Affair – and raised $1,200 for cancers below the waist. I loved it.
I wanted to tackle something harder to see what I was made of. I signed up for the Toronto triathlon that was scheduled just one month from that date. I had one month of serious training to run, swim and cycle. Two minutes into the swim, where the water was just 62 degrees, I wanted to give up, but I thought about conquering cancer earlier in the year which drove me to complete the entire triathlon in 2:45 hours.
It wasn't about the time at all for me. It was about finishing, and seeing what I was made of.
I then did a 5km run for breast cancer in Toronto and raised $500. I finished the event in 23 minutes.
Recently, I registered for an Ironman 70.3 taking place in Muskoka in September 2012. It’s comprised of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. I plan to train as hard as I can and am aiming to finish top 10 in my division.
I was embarrassed for several months after my surgery. I now realize that it was a waste of time, but it has made me who I am today. Knowing that cancer doesn't define me, now I know that how I live and crushing cancer is what defines me!
I am training for my Ironman, working, studying and going every four months for a CT scan, blood work and chest x-rays. I plan to start a charity that will help raise awareness about testicular cancer.
People with cancer should not be afraid or embarrassed. I am a cancer survivor, and I plan on making a difference not only in conquering testicular cancer, but all types of cancer, in my lifetime!