My name is Matt Lenze and I am a Survivor of Testicular Cancer since March 2009. Back in 2008, I was at the top of my game. I had a steady job and money was not a worry for me. I was confident that I could achieve all the things in life that I wanted; but one day I woke up with extreme lower back pain. I went to my chiropractor who said he couldn’t help me, so I tried going to work, but the pain was excruciating. I was sent home and told to bring a doctor’s excuse the next day.
My mother, who lived several hours away, told me to go to the emergency room. It was too painful to sit, stand, or walk, so I called my friend Ramon and he literally carried me to the car and took me to a local hospital. The doctor in the Emergency Room discovered that one of my testicles was hard, so he ordered an ultra sound. Cancer was discovered and the testicle was surgically removed.
I recovered from the surgery, but the back pain was still bad and no one knew why. I checked in to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, which has a LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center. They gave me very strong pain medicine and when I awoke, I was surrounded by doctors who assured me that they would find the source of the back pain. It turned out to be swollen lymph nodes along my spine. The cancer had already spread.
I began my Chemo therapy on Thanksgiving Day in 2008. It was very difficult. I had many dark days and I lost 20 lbs. of muscle right away. I leaned heavily on the prayers and support of others. Each round made me very sick and fearful. I lost more weight.
When I finished the fourth round, a PET scan indicated that I still needed surgery to remove the lymph nodes. It would be an even longer recovery. I guessed that I’d lose my job, and then my car, and apartment. I did not want more surgery but it was scheduled to be done in a few weeks. At the pre-op visit, I still did not want to have the surgery and my mom called me stubborn and bull headed. Just then I saw a very disfigured woman who had a neglected cancer. At that moment, I felt like God was telling me not to be like her.
One week before surgery a new PET scan showed that the chemo was working on the lymph nodes and I would not need the surgery. I could go back to work!
Three months later I was graduating from a Law Enforcement Training Academy and pursuing one of the dreams in my life. When my name was called, the fellow students who had supported me, cheered loudly. When I was asked about the cheers, I told the person handing me my diploma and badge that I was a cancer survivor. Suddenly, there were tears in his eyes and he said, “Matt, I am, too.”
I hope you are an “overcomer,” too. I want this story to push you through whatever obstacles you are facing in your life and give you a sense of hope.