On October 3rd, 2017 Brian went into urgent care with complaints of exhaustion he couldn’t sleep off. He was experiencing difficulty performing everyday tasks like walking up the stairs at home, working, or playing with their kids. The doctor sent him over to the ER for blood work, a CT scan, and an ultrasound. Twelve hours later, the doctor delivered the shocking news – cancer. Testicular cancer that had already spread to his lungs, liver, and pancreas. There were spots on his spine and hip bone as well. Brian was 34-years-old, his wife 32. his daughter only 11 months old, his son three-and-a-half.
When Brian was first diagnosed doctors and nurses told he and his wife that testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers with some of the highest cure rates. After his Orchiectomy the pathology showed that he had a very rare and aggressive type of testicular cancer; less than 1% of people diagnosed with testicular cancer have his diagnosis – Stage IIIC nonseminoma pure choriocarcinoma. On October 12th, just 9 days after his diagnosis, Brian was receiving a blood transfusion and platelet infusion. He started experiencing horrific pain in his chest. A new CT scan discovered that his tumors had grown over 2 cm in those 9 days. Brian was rushed to the ICU where his first dose of chemo was started immediately. It was his daughter’s first birthday.
In the past 7 months, Brian has had an Orchiectomy, 7 rounds of chemotherapy, 1 stem cell transplant, countless infusions, blood transfusions, scans, tests, and more blood work and appointments than he can count. He’s been seen at three different hospitals and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He’s spent more than 80 days and counting as an inpatient in hospitals receiving some of the highest dose chemotherapy out there. His wife has been by his side in the hospital through all of it. They missed their daughter’s first birthday, Thanksgiving, his birthday, and their son’s 4th birthday.
The first 4 rounds of chemo didn’t get rid of the cancer, so the next treatment option was to do 2 more rounds of “rescue chemo” to keep the cancer from growing too quickly as he transitioned from the regular oncology team to the transplant team. Brian’s current treatment plan is to complete a back to back stem cell transplant. During his first transplant, he was hospitalized for 30 days while he underwent the most brutal high dose chemo transplant regimen out there. He started his second transplant on June 7th. Brian and his wife have been living in Seattle since February 27th in an apartment much smaller and much more expensive than their home in Mount Vernon. Jenn’s parents have taken in their babies while they fight. They see them when they can, but it’s been extremely difficult to be away from each other.
Neither Jenn or Brian have been able to work since his diagnosis. His cancer has turned their life upside down. They are terrified of the statistics and the possible outcome. But they try very hard to find the positive and the beauty in every day they have together. It’s not always easy but together they are determined to beat this and come out of it stronger with a beautiful new outlook on life.