By: Meredith Hillgartner
He thought the problems he was having with his back were from an old sports injury, but a trip to the emergency room and ten days of running test proved him wrong.
“Come to find out on April 13th, 2009, I had been diagnosed with Stage 3 non-seminoma testicular cancer,” Morton said.
Stage 3 means the cancer had spread from his testicle to his lungs, liver and kidney.
Morton had a radical orchiectomy to remove his infected testicle, then started 52 rounds of chemotherapy.
“I lost a little over 65 pounds in about six weeks,” Morton said. “[I[ lost all my hair, spent the better part of four months in the hospital and six months off work.”
After months of treatment, the hard work and struggle paid off.
“Since then I have been in remission for the last 4 1/2 years,” Morton said.
Cancer was not easy for Zach Pauda, who was diagnosed when he was 18 years old.
“I was also Stage 3, so it spread from the testicle to 27 lymph nodes in my abdomen, part of my right lung and behind my left kidney,” Pauda said.
Pauda also had surgery to remove his left testicle, then spent 21 weeks in chemo.
But his battle was not over.
“After the initial surgery, after the chemo, they went in and did what they call a
retroperitoneal lymph node dissection,” Pauda said.
That means the doctors had to take out all of Pauda’s organs, to find and remove his infected lymph nodes, then put him back together again.
“I have a scar from right below my sternum to right above my pelvic bone,” Pauda said.
It took Pauda several weeks to recover, but he said the surgery was worth it.
“By November 2005, I was in remission,” Pauda said. “I have been in remission for, I just had my 8th year.”
Now both men spend their free time sharing their story, bringing awareness to the disease.
“Testicular cancer is the number one cancer in males 15-35,” Morton said. “But it has a 99% survival rate if you can detect it in Stage 1.”
“The cancer is a cancer of young people, which is somewhat uncommon,” Dr. Allan Haynes said.
Dr. Haynes is an Urologist for UMC.
“Testicular cancers doesn’t cause much pain or discomfort,” Haynes said. “What’s going to happen is your going to get an irregularity on your testicle. You feel something hard, irregular, a bump or enlarged, that needs to be checked.”
Morton and Pauda may have won the battle but their war is not over yet.
There is always a chance for a relapse, but for now both men said they are trying to live life to the fullest.
“It was the hardest battle of my life, but through that I can now see I can get over just about anything that comes my way,” Pauda said.
“This is not going to be a bad thing in my life, I’m going to learn from this, I am going to get better and I am going to be stronger,” Morton said.
If you would like more information on testicular cancer visit: tcancer.org