Monday, May 4, 2009

Q & A

This past weekend, our blog cracked the 1,000 hit marker. Seriously? One thousand hits? You guys are amazing! I can't tell you how much it means to Reese and me that you read the blog, think about us, share in this with us, and pray for our family. Some of you we know. Some of you we've never even met, but we feel a closeness with all of you whether you are personal friends or just people looking for information on testicular cancer and its treatment.

Not only are you reading the blog, but you are dialoging with us via the comments function, in person, and through e-mails. I love that! It helps me know you're out there...*knock knock...hello?* If I could pass on just one small percentage of everything we've learned so far (be it medical, practical, or spiritual) that would make me so happy. In communicating with many of you, a few common questions keep popping up, so I thought I'd take some space to answer them here.

1. What kind of cancer does Reese have now? Is it lymph cancer or testicular cancer?

It's still testicular cancer, it has just metastasized to two of his lymph nodes. Testicular cancer is a germ cell cancer and so it is treated in a very specific way. While "metastasized" sounds pretty scary, remember that on Reese's surveillance plan, the doctors were watching and waiting very carefully for any small sign of cancer to show up. When it did, even though it was almost microscopic, they took quick and decisive action, so his prognosis is still very good.

2. Isn't Reese too old for testicular cancer?

Yeah, he just loves that one! Well, apparently he's not too old, but you're right in that he's on the older edge of the curve. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men, age 20 to 34, so they're definitely the highest risk group. However, 90% of testicular cancer cases occur in men 20 to 54. Also, testicular cancer is unfortunately on the rise, and the age range is expanding. Do you know what that means? If you are a man and you are reading this blog, you need to think about doing routine self exams for testicular cancer. Yup. It can occur in a 17 year old as well as a 70 year old.

Testicular cancer was the furthest thing from Reese's mind. He just got lucky in that his tumor happened to be quite painful and drove him quickly to the urologist. The signs are often more subtle. If you want to know more about how to do a self exam, check out this link or this one. Okay, nuff said.

3. Testicular cancer, isn't that what Lance Armstrong had?

Yes, that is what Lance Armstrong had, although his case was much more advanced than Reese's by the time it was diagnosed in 1996. And hey, look at him now! Other famous testicular cancer survivors include: Tom Green, Scott Hamilton, Dan Abrams, Richard Belzer, and many other well-known professional athletes, including U.S. swimmer Eric Shanteau, who competed in the Beijing Olympics last summer.

4. My aunt/grandpa/gardener/landlady had cancer and he/she just took a pill for chemotherapy or had a pump that she wore around and wasn't sick or didn't lose his hair at all. What's up with Reese?

Reese's cancer has been quite an education for us. Dr. Google and I have become great friends, plus we do truly have a wonderful real-life oncologist, Dr. Minow, who is very patient and always open to questions. What I never realized about cancer, until our experience, is that there are so many different kinds and each particular one has its own specific treatment. If you have lung cancer, there are certain procedures and drugs that will treat it. If you have skin cancer, there are different procedures and drugs that will treat that. It's the same with testicular cancer. What Reese is receiving (BEP chemotherapy) is the absolute gold standard of care for the kind of cancer and staging that he has. There's really not any other way it's dealt with, so we can be confident that he's getting exactly what he needs.

While modern science has made tremendous advances and people can sometimes take a pill instead of being hooked up to an IV, or not have to be sick and lose their hair, those sorts of drugs don't work for testicular cancer. The great news is that treatment for testicular cancer has improved tremendously in the last 30-some years. Due to the pioneering work of Dr. Lawrence Einhorn and his exploration of platinum-based chemotherapy, the survival rate for testicular cancer patients has risen from 10% to 95%. Wow! Makes you want to donate to cancer research, doesn't it?

Do you know what else is cool? Our doctor, Dr. Minow, did training with Dr. Einhorn way back when and also consults with him on an as needed basis. Reese is in very good hands.

5. How can we help you?

Trust are all doing exactly what you need to. For those of you that have offered specific help, you are definitely on our mental "call list" and we will continue to call you when we need you, without hesitation. For those of you who are far away, we know you love us and are with us in spirit. Just please continue to keep up with our news, pray for us, and please don't worry. We love you all and appreciate your concern, kind words, and prayers!


  1. Cara, We have been following all of your comments and find them not only informative, but inspiring also. Our prayers and thoughts go out to both of you for strenght to get through this difficult time.

    Love and hugs from your uncle Glenn and Aunt Vel

  2. Your mom sent this along in email so I read it that way, but just wanted to comment that it's incredible what an education you're getting! Did you ever expect to know the details of BEP and the pioneering work of Dr. Einhorn?? With God on your side, an amazing attitude, tons of prayers and support, and a boatload of information, you're a force to be reckoned with- cancer better be shaking in it's boots.