Survivor Spotlight: Bo Orichowsky
7 Year Testicular Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with TC right after New Years, Jan. 2006. I was 53 at the time. So far, I have been clear of any cancer and happy to be alive! Here is my story…
I had been involved in a martial arts discipline for several years, as well as weight lifting, when I first noticed the symptoms but was unaware of what they were. It started off as groin pain. I went to see my family doctor and after a series of questions regarding my lifestyle, he suspected that it was a pulled muscle in my groin area.
Medication did not help and the pain persisted. About two weeks later, while showering, I noticed that my right testicle was swollen to about the size of a golf ball! I immediately told my wife, who in turn called an emergency room thinking that it was testicular torsion? She had studied to be a nurse and still remains quite interested in the medical field.
Given that it was a Saturday night, we were told to see our family doctor as soon as possible. On Monday morning I called the doctor and was brought in immediately. He took one look and sent me off for an ultrasound and an appointment with an urologist. As I was waiting for the ultrasound results, the urologist was calling asking where I was. My wife and I finally got to the urologist and after looking at my testicles and ultrasound, the doctor said, ”you have cancer”, that was all I heard. I literally blocked everything else out!
My wife told me that I was scheduled for surgery to remove the testicle on Thursday. Surgery was fine, no complications. Later I had a follow up visit with an oncologist and was told that he suspected that the cancer might have spread into my lymph nodes.
I was told that I had two options: first was to have major surgery, a RPLND, to do a biopsy to determine whether or not the cancer spread or second, have monthly medical tests and visits with the oncologist for a year to see if the cancer had spread.
My wife told me that I was going for the surgery! Mind you, this is a serious invasive surgery with the potential for some serious life altering side effects! (My wife still doesn’t understand why I call her ”boss”)
I was in the hospital for 5-6 days, have a zipper scar from my chest bone to below my navel, and I was out of work for 3 months. I had a great surgeon, Dept. Head at U. of Penn Hospital, Philadelphia, PA, and there were no complications.
Well, they told me, ”nope, didn’t find anything, the cancer didn’t spread” and my response was ”gee, thanks for the scar! Always wanted one like this! (Just kidding)”
I eventually returned to my martial arts training about 4 months after surgery, on a limited level and full training a month after that.
I also ride a motorcycle, a large, heavy touring bike. About 5 months after the RPLND surgery I got back on the bike and started riding again, short hops here and there, just to feel normal again. My riding buddies asked if I was okay riding given that I just went through a bout of testicular cancer, never mind the tenderness in the abdominal area from surgery. I told them ”yep, I still ride, but I had to readjust after having lost my right testicle to cancer, found that the bike tended to lean to the left!
It’s been 7 years since having been diagnosed and treated and I am glad to say that everything is fine! My wife, ”the boss” has been very supportive throughout the entire episode of cancer, and a great wife overall. What my wife has done for me during this period was nothing short of pure love! There were some issues/complications during recovery at the hospital and my wife made sure I got the best of care, actually going toe to toe with the hospital staff! At home, there was no need for a visiting nurse, my wife was there taking care of everything! She took time off from work, and when she did return to work, she would come home during lunch to check up on me. I’m happy to say that we are coming up on our 28th anniversary this fall, and I can’t see life without her!