Today is five months to the day that I underwent surgery for testicular cancer during which the surgeon removed my right testicle and a cancerous tumor that weighed in at approximately 550 grams. Approximately 5 weeks after the surgery I began a very aggressive 3 drug (plus ancillary drugs) protocol of chemotherapy – 4 cycles over 12 weeks – designed to rid my body of the Stage 3 cancer that had spread into my lower abdomen.
In prescribing the protocol my doctor explained that he chose the most aggressive possible treatment, letting me know that the 12 weeks would be similar to a hard-fought boxing match, that the cumulative effect of the chemo would be somewhat debilitating, but that at the end of 12 rounds I would likely not be knocked out or dead. He basically said “let’s do it once, let’s kill it now, so we don’t have to worry about it anymore.” To his way of thinking I had three things going for me (thanks in large part to our cycling lifestyle): I was physically strong and would be able to withstand the effects of the chemo, he thought that my attitude was good and that I would be able to accept the suffering that goes along with chemotherapy and, having met Melanie and having heard me speak about all of my cycling friends he believed that my support group would be really supportive and would help carry me through it.
He of course neglected to mention that he is an incredible doctor, that his team is supportive in every possible way and that the oncology nurses were angels in every sense of the word.
I completed my 12 week chemo protocol the week before GFNY Bike Expo (the cycles went like this – weeks 1, 4, 7 and 10 were full weeks of chemo, 5 days straight approximately 8 hours per day; in addition I would go each Tuesday for about an hour, giving me two weeks of recovery before the next full week).
I have created a photo album – inspiration for me during the treatment and recovery: Photo Album
I went for PET scans this past Thursday and had an appointment with my oncologist yesterday; the good news is that my blood markers show no existence of cancer and the lymph nodes, a couple of which were swollen to as much as 8cm (normal is 1.25 cm) are all back to normal except two, which as slightly swollen (less than 2cm). I was referred to the Chair of the urologic oncology department at the hospital to see if they ought to be removed or monitored but for the most part it looks as if the treatment worked as my doctor said it would. If the lymph nodes require removal it is a laparoscopic procedure; other than that it seems like we can get on with our normal lives again.
I have all of you to thank and am extremely grateful not only for your time and energy but for your generosity of spirit. Your good wishes, openly expressed or not, mattered as much as the treatment. I think about the amount of good luck I have had, how the world conspired to do me good:
- from my friend David who referred me to the urologist who performed the surgery, which surgeon in turn referred me to my oncologist whose team made this all seem so easy
- our GAVIA Warriors who not only watched over me but made sure everyone continued with their training and kept the studio open and running
- what my wife Melanie had to live through I would not wish on anyone – she is the bravest and strongest person I know
- my family for their calls and for their company during the hospital days when Melanie could not be there
- all my friends and members of our cycling community who continually wished me well and made sure I remained emotionally intact – I cannot write all the names, we do not have the space and truthfully you all played a part
- for my GS-GFNY teammates for doing all the work this year
- Uli and Lidia for creating the GFNY4Vito armband and for everyone who wore it and continues to do so; I cried like a child when I saw Uli announce it on FB Live
- for everyone who stopped by our DeRosa Gavia booth at Bike Expo to say hello, and for Camila Cortes who told me the last day of the Expo that she was going to race for me and win
- the timing was perfect, who could have planned that? Had my treatment started one week later I would not have been able to go to Italy and Bike Expo would have been in week 12 when I was basically reduced to laying on the couch, not even able to get my own glass of water, when I was actually able to drink
- the GAVIA Warriors again, I am so proud of you for your accomplishments in GFNY2017!
Looking forward to getting back to my life’s work – coaching and training cyclists and helping inspire everyone to join our cycling community!
With loving kindness