Jeb Schroder, 19, of Springfield, Colorado, had only been going to college for a semester before getting the worst news of his life.
“It’ll spread from the testicle to the abdomen, to the lungs and eventually the brain. When it spreads to your abdomen your back will start to hurt. From there it’ll go to your lungs and you’ll start to cough and cough. And I caught mine in the lungs,” said Schroder.
Testicular cancer had invaded his lungs, setting the stage for the next year; four chemotherapy treatments, weeks in the hospital, and plenty of uncertainty.
“I want to live through it. I am going to be all right. That’s all I thought,” he said of the day he was diagnosed.
He was flown to University of Colorado Hospital shortly after his 19th birthday for treatment. He’d eventually meet his urologic oncologist, Nicholas Cost, MD.
“Most people don’t think of that because they think of young men as otherwise being very, very healthy. But the most common solid tumor, that men between the ages of 13 and 39, that they get, is testicular cancer,” said Dr. Cost.
Men in that age range typically do not monitor their health or are particularly concerned about cancer. Which is why Cost is encouraging self-examinations.
“That’s why we encourage men, at least once a month, when they are in the shower or something, check it out and make sure there’s not anything going on there,” said Cost.
If you find an abnormal mass or have pain, get into a doctor he says, because early detection can greatly affect treatment.
“When you are dealing with men who, there's a special kind of psychology there of like, feeling manly or what not. We want to make sure they understand that treating this doesn't leave them as any less of a man than before,” said Dr. Cost.
He says 30 years ago testicular cancer had about a 30% cure rate. With new chemotherapy regimens, it’s more like 90%. And it appears Jeb falls into the latter.
‘Like Dr. Cost says I can continue to live my own life and be a normal person again and that's just what I am working on,” said Jeb.
His tumors appear to be gone and he continues to get checkups, with hopes of doing in 2017 what he had originally planned for 2016.
Good luck, Jeb!