As we reflect on all we are thankful for this past week at Spektor Dental, Dr. Danny has a very personal reason to be thankful for health and life, as well as a reason to support men’s health this November. A year ago, he and his wife, Rikki, were blessed with a baby boy, Hudson, but some may not realize that just five years ago, they faced the biggest challenge of their lives.
Dr. Danny’s Story
It was April 14, 2011, six weeks before my wedding and a day seemingly like any other, but in the blink of an eye my life changed forever. My doctor called with the results of my ultrasound, which showed I had a germ cell tumor in my right testicle that required immediate surgery. At that moment, I felt more vulnerable than I have in my whole life. I was 26 years old, never smoked a day in my life, and was diagnosed with cancer–the same disease that claimed my dad’s life when I was only three years old.
The next 24 hours were a complete blur. That night, I called one of my friends whose dad is a retired urologist. Immediately, his dad got on the phone and told me exactly which doctors to see and what to expect in the weeks ahead. The next day, he called Joel Lilly, MD, a colleague/urologist at Seattle Urological Associates, and got an appointment for me. Dr. Lilly explained the surgical procedure, and within two weeks of diagnosis, I was laying on an operating bed awaiting surgery. A week later, I learned the cancer had spread; the pathology report and post-op CT scan showed a mixed tumor with lymphovascular invasion and enlarged abdominal lymph nodes. I would need to undergo chemotherapy.
The funny thing about cancer is that it’s undeniable. I could have asked Dr. Lilly how this was possible and why me, but the reality is there wasn’t an answer. There was nothing I could do except continue to fight. Two days later, I met Jack West, MD, an oncologist at the Swedish Cancer Institute, and learned I would be given a standard chemotherapy cocktail of bleomycin, etoposide and cisplatin.
Over the next nine weeks, I lost all of my hair, had IV and PICC lines placed in both my arms, fought nausea, and married the girl of my dreams. I also balanced caring for my patients with chemotherapy, check-ups, and blood draws. Finally, on August 12, I had my final CT scan, which showed my tumor markers and lymph nodes were all normal. I was officially in remission.
This past August, I hit my five-year mark: the pinnacle of cancer remission; the point where some doctors would say you are completely cured. Although I may never feel like I am truly cured, I realize I am one of the lucky ones. I had a wonderful group of family and friends supporting me; doctors who were available to provide guidance and reassurance; enough medical training to understand treatment protocols and ask questions; and insurance that covered the costly treatments. I recognize not everyone is so fortunate.
During my experience, there were six other men under the age of 33 undergoing treatment for varying stages of testicular cancer. It’s for this reason that this November, we at Spektor Dental have been raising awareness for the Movember Foundation, which specifically works to reduce the incidence of prostate and testicular cancer, as well as raise awareness for men’s health.
To join us in our efforts, please visit the Movember Foundation to donate: