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Archive for November, 2010

Women and Testicular Cancer

No. We are not saying that women get testicular Cancer.

What we are saying, is that women need to be aware of testicular cancer at least on an elementary level. Our Testicular Cancer 101 page has some basic information that all women should know because sometimes women are the ones who find their partner’s testicular cancer.

Today we are very happy to feature a story about a woman who went through testicular cancer with her boyfriend some years ago. With her permission we are posting her story, with names changed because the story is about an ex-boyfriend at this point. Her story provides some interesting insight into testicular cancer. Here is her story.

I can’t remember which one of us first found the lump. I was visiting my folks in Europe when he told me by phone that he had seen his doctor about it. However, his physician pooh-poohed it, saying that testicle size fluctuations were normal in young men. Kyle was 23, so of course we didn’t even think of cancer.

I didn’t see him for a couple months after that. On my next visit to see Kyle, during our (ahem) reunion, I was shocked by the difference between the two testicles. One was twice the size of the other. I could tell Kyle was really worried about it. When I asked him why he hadn’t gone to see the doctor again, I realized from his reaction that fear had set in. He was just avoiding it, hoping it would go away, and hadn’t told anyone about it since the doctor visit.

My reaction motivated him to go talk to his father, who, as a psychiatrist, also had a medical degree. His father immediately grasped the severity of the issue. Kyle was rushed to the doctor, and swiftly diagnosed with testicular cancer. An operating date was set for just five days away.

Now, Kyle has an identical twin brother, which means that their genetic stuff is the same. Upon examination, his brother was found to have testicular cancer as well.

Just for a minute, I want you to imagine two beautiful young men, identical in youth and verve, struggling through their last courses at University and just a few months from starting their careers. And then, poof! Cancer comes a-calling.

They were both operated upon, and in both cases it appeared the cancer had not had time to spread, though the medical team was much more confident about this in my boyfriend’s brother’s case. Kyle spent his summer getting radiation treatments.

The doctors asked Kyle if he wanted a prosthetic replacement for the removed testicle, but they accidentally matched it to the cancer-ridden one, so he was quite lopsided. This mistake became a kind of focal point for his rage and feelings of having been unmanned. He had always thought he didn’t want children, but now the prospect of infertility really upset him. The only thing that seemed to comfort Kyle was a Ben Wicks publication on cancer. It really helped him to be able to laugh about it.

I have seen many people go through sickness, before and after Kyle. I really find that it reveals a lot about a person. I also don’t think that, at 23, most people have the emotional skills necessary to deal with much, never mind cancer. Kyle took out his feelings entirely on me. On the phone with friends, he would laugh off his problems. With me, he became verbally abusive. There were days where I was called a “bitch” up to five times a day. He became physically rough, though he did never hit me. A few days after his radiation treatments ended, things had deteriorated so much that I broke up with him.

I have followed his career from afar, and I can tell you 12 years later, he is alive and has done well in his chosen field. I wonder what would have happened if he had never gotten cancer?

It is not unusual a women may be the first to find testicular cancer in their partner. If they notice any irregularities it is important they communicate with their partner. What is also important is that women keep on their partner until he sees a physician. Men seem to have an innate desire to avoid doctors at all costs. Many times we figure that whatever is bothering us will eventually go away. Unfortunately, testicular cancer doesn’t just go away. In fact, if caught early it is nearly 100% treatable. If caught in the later stages, after it has spread, it is a lot harder to treat and can lead to death.

Women also need to be able to identify common complaints men have that may be signs of testicular cancer and encourage their guys to go see the physician.

This is not a one-way street in identifying cancer in partners. Men are often the ones who find breast cancer in women. Our cancer survivor friend, Stefanie LaRue, told Self Magazine about her boyfriend finding her breast cancer in her story Living with Cancer – and Daring to Date Again.

Cancer Research or Halloween

The budget for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is downright scary.

The Federal Government  fiscal year started on October 1st and the announced budget for the National Cancer Institute should scare anyone. For 2011, the NCI budget is $5,264,643,000 or $5.2 billion to make it simple. This is a 3.2% increase ($163 million) to the 2010 budget.

Let’s Put the NCI budget into perspective.

A budget of $5.2 billion appears very robust but how does it relate to say Halloween? According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the amount of money spent by U.S. consumers for Halloween this year is expected to reach $5.8 billion. Can this be correct? Yes, unfortunately, it is. U.S. consumers will spend more on candy, costumes and decorations for Halloween than is spent all year on cancer research by the National Cancer Institute.

The average Halloween participant was expected to spend $66.28 because…

In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday.

What we need is a break from the cancer reality

However, this break is unlikely to occur anytime soon if the NCI is spending $5.2 billion on 310 million American or less than $17 per American on cancer research. Hopefully, the NCI budget will be increased. In 2008, the The Obama-Biden Plan to Combat Cancer stated that

The Obama-Biden plan will double federal funding for cancer research within 5 years, focusing on NIH and NCI.

Lets hope that the increased funding of the NCI comes soon. However, from 2009 to 2010 the budget increased only 2.7% and from 2010 to 2011 the increase was only 3.2%. Thus, unless something is in the works the doubling of the budget is unlikely to become a reality in 5 years. There was an additional $1.2 billion added in 2009-2010 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but that is still far from doubling.

Perhaps the answer to cancer research funding relies with Americans and not America. Perhaps we need to spend a little less every Halloween and donate this money to cancer research. If we spent just half the amount on Halloween and donated it to cancer research our goal of doubling the NCI budget would be halfway accomplished and take no political intervention at all.

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