Kevin was 19 years old and enjoying the first semester of his sophomore year of college. With an attitude typical of a college sophomore, he was ignoring the pain that was becoming increasingly frequent. He simply dismissed it and went on. Things changed during Christmas break. After midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the pain was so bad he could not sleep.
Kevin went to see his doctor. His testicle was visibly swollen, and the doctor diagnosed an infection for which he prescribed antibiotics. Ten days later, the swelling had not gone down; an ultrasound was ordered. As Kevin prepared to return to school for the spring term, he received a call from his doctor. The doctor told him that he had a tumor and to "check into the hospital tomorrow. You're having surgery." During surgery, Kevin's testicle was removed; the tumor was malignant. After surgery, Kevin had to undergo radiation treatments which left him extremely weak and still in intense pain.
The stabbing pain in his abdomen was so bad that he went to the emergency room. He was admitted to the hospital on a Friday afternoon. It was discovered that there was a mass in his abdomen that was pressing on his urethra. He began chemotherapy on Sunday.
When Kevin thinks of this weekend, he remembers everything moving with great speed. Events were moving so quickly that he did not have time to think. Given time, he might have considered the long-term consequences of the chemotherapy. He might have thought of some day becoming a father and banked some of his sperm "just in case." Instead he started the first of four demanding and aggressive rounds of chemotherapy.
The side effects of the treatment were devastating. Kevin and his family were mentally and emotionally drained. He was down to 110 pounds, had lost his hair and eyebrows, his blood counts were down; he was hospitalized. He and his family were demoralized. "If you look sick, you feel sick, and people react to the way you look."
At this point, Kevin's oncologist suggested that the family contact Cancer Hope Network. A Cancer Hope Network Support Volunteer came to the hospital and spent time with Kevin and his family. When Kevin was at his lowest point, he had tangible proof of survivorship sitting at his bedside.
Kevin finished his chemotherapy treatments and subsequent surgery determined that the mass in his abdomen had been reduced to scar tissue. Kevin felt that the Cancer Hope Network support had such a profound effect on his recovery that he told his father he wanted to be able to give that same help to others. The day after his five-year checkup showed him to be cancer free, Kevin called Cancer Hope Network and asked to be trained as a volunteer.
Kevin finished school and started to date Melissa. Kevin and Melissa had known each other slightly since high school, but a cousin of Kevin's saw a future for them. As they got to know each other, Kevin talked about his cancer. They both wanted to have children, but did not know if this would be possible. In the end their devotion to each other diminished their fears, and they decided to take a "leap of faith." They married and in January Melissa gave birth to a baby boy.
In the years since Kevin was trained as a Cancer Hope Network Support Volunteer, he continues to "give back" to many cancer patients the same kind of hope he received during the darkest time of his life.