October 2, 2011

Cancer

I was cooking dinner on September 27th when Jake came into the kitchen and said he had something to tell me. I was already surprised because he was home early (that doesn't happen often in residency..). He had the same worried look he had the first time he told me he was deploying, but I knew it couldn't be that. I jokingly asked if he was in trouble at work and he smiled and replied, "no, but I have to have surgery tomorrow. I have testicular cancer." I think I stopped breathing for a minute as I tried to process what he was telling me. He had suspected something was wrong; that he had a tumor; and set up an appointment to have an ultrasound on the 27th. During the ultrasound they found a very large, concerning tumor and wanted to preform immediate surgery. They were suspecting a malignant tumor. His tumor markers were immediately tested and two came back as normal, the third would take awhile. Everything happened very quickly. I was obviously very worried but our family and friends were wonderful. Jake's parents quickly drove down to help us with the kids and to sit with me at the hospital. Our Bishopric and home teachers came over that night to give Jake a blessing of health and me a blessing of peace. Jake was doing a good job of putting on a happy face, I think mostly to keep me calm. I did have a sense of calm, but I was obviously very worried about my husband. Early the next morning we headed to the Naval Medical Center for surgery to remove the tumor. We were told we would have path results in a week and would proceed from there.

Jake had a few drugged days after recovery but healed surprisingly quickly. He was very upbeat and...well, just Jake. He's a very optimistic, logical person. So while I was hiding away to cry in the closet when the fear of the unknown would overcome me, he was smiling and enjoying our company. We played lots of Settlers with his Mom and Bremen and Andrea. They took very good care of him! Lots of treats, yummy dinners, magazines to read, prayers and good company.
In fact, we were overwhelmed by everyones generosity. Word spread among our ward and we had meals set up for weeks. Friends from all over sent us well wishes and treats. Whoever said that food is healing is RIGHT! I didn't get to snap pictures of everything that was sent and given to us, but above you can see a dozen delicious cupcakes from DC Cupcakes from our dear friends Nick and Amanda. We gave the kids a taste here and there but froze most of them so we could treat ourselves whenever we wanted! Our friends Jason and Amber were in town visiting and stopped by with a decadent chocolate cake (Jake's favorite, they know him well!). My parents came down for a few days and stocked our fridge and freezer.

Meanwhile, we were told the path results were sent off to UCLA, so we wouldn't have results for another week. After a week Jake was back and work and things seemed relatively normal, except for the awful feeling that we had no idea if Jake had malignant or benign cancer. We kept waiting, and waiting and calling and pestering. Finally, 6 weeks after surgery we received the results. And it was worth the wait: Jake had a mixed germ cell tumor with evidence of sertoli, leydig and granulosa cells. It was well differentiated and likely benign. The tumor was very rare, so rare in fact, that many of the pathologists had never seen this type of cancer before, which is why it took so long to get back to us. This is pretty good news. While they don't know much about this cancer, it appears to be benign and Jake feels great. He'll have to go in for scans and tumor markers every 6 months to make sure it doesn't come back but he knows the warning signs and will be careful. We feel tremendously blessed through this trial. We truly felt the effects and peace from everyones love, support and prayers. I'm so thankful to have a healthy husband. Trials like this make you truly realize how precious life is and to live to your fullest. I love Jake so much and am so grateful for this outcome. We have a few friends that are facing cancer in a much bigger, scarier way than we did and I continue to pray for them. Know that any act of kindness to those in need is felt and appreciated. Thanks to everyone for thinking of us, we love you!

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