Survivor Spotlight: Jason Greenspan
My name is Jason Greenspan, and I’m a Stage IIA Non-Seminoma Testicular Cancer survivor.
My story started back in May 2012. I was only 18 and in my senior year of in high school. I already applied to colleges and got accepted to many of them. The one I chose was Shippensburg University. I had just finished planning for my prom. In my friend group, I’m usually the one who plans everything! Planning for this was fun, but also a challenge. I already had the limo reserved, the schedule made, and was ready to have the time of my life; but little did I know that my life was going to change in an instant.
Testicular Cancer is one of the most common cancers in men between the ages of 15 to 35, yet there’s almost no awareness of it.
I was at home, watching television and had a simple itch. That itch ended up being the most important itch of my entire life. I noticed something hard—something I didn’t remember feeling before. Clearly, something wasn’t right. It’s difficult to describe, but I had this gut feeling that it was something horrible. I never had had that feeling before—ever. I went upstairs to my mom and told her. She said to try not to worry too much about it, but she’ll make a doctor’s appointment anyway. Within a day or so, my mom and I went in for my doctor’s appointment. He checked me. Then, he said the words that I never thought I would hear; “YOU HAVE CANCER.” There was so much running through my head. Being diagnosed is something that I never thought would happen to me! I tried my best, but a couple of tears ran down my face anyway. Without knowing about this type of cancer, the first question I remember asking him was, “How long do I have?” I started to remember random events in my life, from when I was a child, up until that moment. I wanted to cherish those memories—I feared there wouldn’t be many more.
After reading more information about Testicular Cancer, I quickly realized that it’s one of the most curable cancers out there. I was lucky in that regard, but sometimes others aren’t.
Now, I had to start thinking about my treatment. After having an ultrasound and taking many blood tests, I met with my urologist, and he told me that I needed to have surgery. I never had had surgery before. I was terrified. I remember dreading that day! Luckily, I was able to come home later that same day. That helped me a little, but not by much.
The morning of my surgery, I went to the hospital, got checked in, and sat in the waiting room. My family was with me as well: my grandparents, mom, uncle, stepdad, and step-brother. It was incredible to have all the support that I had! Luckily, the surgery didn’t take long. I couldn’t wait to get home!
So now, after having my surgery, I thought that everything was okay, and my nightmare was finally over! It turned out that it hadn’t even started. After taking many more tests such as X-rays, CT Scans, and general checkups, it turned out that cancer had spread past my one testicle. At this point, I had to think of further treatment.
I had to meet with many oncologists until I found the one that would be the best fit for me. The one I chose, though, is phenomenal. He told my mom and me what will be happening and how to move further with my treatment. At this point, I needed to have chemo. I couldn’t believe it. The first thing that I think of when I hear the word “chemo” is hair loss. I couldn’t imagine losing my hair. It’s something that had always been very important to me, and everyone who knows me knows that. That was my biggest fear of the entire experience, well, in the beginning at least. I found out that I needed to have nine weeks of chemotherapy.
My first day of chemo was okay. I remember walking in, sitting in the chair, getting hooked up, and asking my mom, “This is it? Chemo won’t be hard!” I later found out that this statement would be far from the truth. Yeah, the first day wasn’t terrible, but that was only the first day.
The entire chemo experience is something that will haunt me forever. I would go into chemo each day during the first week, one day the second week, and one day the third week. That was considered one cycle. My treatment consisted of three cycles. On the first Friday of each cycle, I would throw up. Since I knew this would happen, it at least helped me to prepare by taking medicine, but throwing up was now my biggest fear.
Towards the end of my chemo treatment, I needed to have a lot of pricks from the needle each and every day I was there. I could have up to 6 pricks on a bad day, but it was still usually 2 or 3 pricks even on a good day. Unfortunately, this happened because after having chemo for so long, the nurses were not able to get a straight path with the needle, compared to before. I remember one day when I was sitting in the chair, the nurses were trying to get the needle in my arm for me to receive my treatment, and it was so bad that it must have been at least eight times! All I kept thinking to myself was “Why me?” That day was the only day during the entire nine weeks that I cried, at my treatment facility at least. The only thing on my mind was going home and having this terrible nightmare be over.
All of the nurses at my treatment facility were wonderful! They were very kind and caring people. They were not able to see me much, though. Whenever I went into the chemo room, I would always put my hood from my sweatshirt over my head—far enough so that my entire head would not be visible. By doing this, it helped me so I wouldn’t be able to look around, which got me sick. Every time I would see an IV bag or a person in one of those chemo chairs, my stomach would start to hurt. I joked after the fact, that if I went to visit the nurses after I was feeling better, they probably wouldn’t even remember me because they were never able to see my face!
The entire cancer experience has let me meet many amazing and inspiring people. I was able to meet other cancer survivors, caregivers, and other people who have been affected by cancer in some way.
For men, it’s crucial to perform monthly testicular self-exams. Sometimes there are no present symptoms, and you might not have any pain. If you notice any changes or have any concerns regarding your testicle(s), contact your doctor immediately.
Let’s help cancer patients with just one penny at a time, and STAMP OUT CANCER now!
[Check out Jason's site Stamp Out Cancer Now]