The Day Everything Changed

I’m not one to overthink things or be dramatic, so the Doctor appointment I had scheduled didn’t seem too important to me.  It was the first time I was seeing a Urologist, and it was at the recommendation of my Primary Care Physician.  Two weeks of antibiotics didn’t work to get rid of the pain I was feeling…so here I was seeing a specialist.

I got settled in and waited for my name to be called.  “Adam Mashni.”  Well, here we go.  The Doctor and I make small talk, and we figure out that some of our relatives are actually married to each other!  Did that make us family?  I wasn’t sure.  Also, I found out he knows my Uncle, who also happens to be a Urologist. It’s fun connecting with people, especially for an extrovert like me.

The small talk was quickly over when he uttered the words, “This doesn’t feel good.”  He told me that he wanted to schedule an ultrasound and get some blood work done as soon as possible.  “Stat” was the word he used, which in everyday English means, HURRY!

After the tests were complete, I decided to head back to work.  I figured it would be a couple of days before anyone got back to me.  I arrive at my car, open the door, but before I could shut the door and start my car, my phone rings.  It was the receptionist. Turns out the Doctor wanted to see me ASAP.  So I walked back inside.

The Doctor invites me into his office.  Not a patient room.  His personal office.  As soon as that happened I knew it wasn’t going to be good news.  I’ve seen movies.  Nothing good is ever discussed in the personal office.  That’s when he told me.

“You’ve got Testicular Cancer.”

He began to explain the kind of Testicular Cancer he was pretty sure I had.  I honestly don’t remember much from that conversation.  Words like “non-seminoma” and others like it.  I had no clue what all of it meant.  He then proceeded to tell me he is recommending I come back that night for emergency surgery.  The mass/tumor needed to be removed immediately.

The next clearing in my foggy thought process occurred when the Doctor offered to call my Uncle.  “Yes!” I thought.  Any sort of familiar was welcomed.  I take out my cell phone to find his number…my cell phone battery was dead.  Ugh…always the worst timing.  The Doctor began rummaging through his papers on his desk, as well as his old text messages.  He had met my Uncle at a Urology Conference just a few months prior. He ends up finding it and dials the number.

So many thoughts in my head at this point.  What if he doesn’t answer?  What would I do?  Who would I need to call next?  My phone is dead!  Where would I get a second opinion?  Do I even need a second opinion?

“Hello?”  He answered.

My Doctor allowed me to talk to him a bit.  He then explained to my Uncle the nitty-gritty medical details.  My Uncle agreed – the tumor needed to come out that night.  It was settled.  I had my second opinion – from my Uncle, who was also a Urologist.  So we scheduled the surgery for 9:00pm on May 8, 2014.

Now all I had to do was call my fiancé, my parents, and anyone else that deserved to know the life-altering news I had just received.  But who to call first?  As best as I can remember, I called my parents first and let them know.  Then I called my friend Bill.  In that conversation I asked him if I should bug Meagan at work and let her know.  Umm. Duh.

Yep, my fiancé was the third phone call.  Sorry babe.

I went back to work, let my co-workers in on what was happening, and began to pack up my stuff.  I was scheduled to speak that night in our college ministry, but that clearly wasn’t happening – so we figured out who was going to cover for me.

After all of the rescheduling and covering of my responsibilities, I finally just sat in my office chair.  I can still think back to that spot.  We had one big office for our student ministry team with a bunch of cubicle desks – so if I spun my chair around, I could see everyone.  And that’s what I did.  It was a moment of stillness amid a day full of chaos.

I told my co-workers and friends that I was doing OK and it was probably nothing. The truth was I had no idea how I was feeling.  I look back now and realize that shock and fight-or-flight instincts took over and I did what I had to do to remain strong.

Fast forward a few hours.  We’re at the Hospital and sitting in the waiting room.  True to form, I’m making light of the situation and cracking jokes.  Meagan, and my Mom, were not amused.  I get called back for surgery prep, and it begins to feel real.  Then, all of a sudden, people begin to show up.

Bill came.  Then Justin.  Then Tim.  Then Jimmy.  Then extended family.  Before and after surgery, I was completely surrounded by my best friends and close family.  It will always be a memory of relationship for me.  I had people in my life that were willing to drop everything and head to the Hospital.

I’ll also remember the “only God” moments.  Oh yes. In the midst of a cancer diagnosis, I saw God’s fingerprints.  The connection to my Urologist.  The fact that he had met my Uncle only a few months prior – and STILL had his cell number readily available.  The fact that the tumor caused pain and I went in for a check.  (I would learn later that tumors normally don’t cause pain…they just grow).

May 8 will always be “cancer diagnosis” day for me…but it will also be so much more.  Friends. Family. Only God moments.  The journey was going to be a tough one, but with those three in my life, I was going to be just fine.

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