by Chris Brewer
As I sat in my urologist’s office chatting with him today – just a regular check up – he asked me, “What’s new and exciting over at the LIVESTRONG Foundation these days?” I told him about our focus on Patient Centered Care and how we are exploring the culture shift where the needs of the patient are looked at from a “whole person” perspective – building on the concepts of cancer survivorship and navigation.
He looked at my chart and said, “I think that’s great, and it’s been needed for some time. You were diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 1996 – I was just completing my residency. Back then we were taught to just get people out the door – treat them – and then move right on to the next case.”
His succinct honesty caught me off guard. But when I thought back to my own treatment experience with TC, successful as it was, I knew there could have been so much more in terms of treating me as a person, and not just a case to “get out the door.” I can vividly recall my time on a military cancer ward that included 2 pelvic/abdominal surgeries plus a couple of rounds of BEP chemo; everything focused on getting me cancer-free.
It’s been said many times that TC is the Holy Grail of cancer research. In the 1970’s TC had nearly a 90% death rate, and now it has a ~95% cure rate. If the treatments are that successful, what information can be added during Testicular Cancer Awareness Month?
Here are a few thoughts:
- Men’s health issues in general need any and all help they can get. From knowing what your personal risks are, to getting regular check ups, to taking action when warranted – it’s part and parcel of where we are lacking and what we need to highlight. Learn more about these issues at our partners, Movember.com.
- While it’s fortunate that most young people do not get cancer, TC is the #1 cancer in young men in the US with nearly 9,000 cases diagnosed annually. And like all cancers, the earlier you are diagnosed the better the chance for a successful and less toxic treatment program. Learn how to do a TC self exam.
- There are issues in and around the TC experience that need attention, too. From fertility concerns, to financial and employment ramifications, to psychosocial and emotional issues – this is the whole person component we’re talking about in patient-centered care. Learn more about what LIVESTRONG is doing to address these issues.
I truly appreciate the outstanding medical care I received – I literally owe my life to it – but I know there could have been so much more meaningful information and assistance too. The interesting part to me is that most of these resources were readily available, even back in 1996 -they just weren’t considered important at the time. As we move forward we will continue to enhance how we help people with cancer right now because the issues in and around testicular cancer are still very relevant to this day.