In August 2019 at the age of 33, I noticed one day that I’d started to feel a bit wobbly on my feet. Over the next four days, I went from being perfectly capable of walking to no longer being able to even move my legs. After a series of diagnostic tests, I was diagnosed with an advanced multi-stage metastatic non-seminoma germ cell tumor (testicular cancer). I had lost the ability to walk because the metastases were pressing against my spinal cord. (There were also metastatic lesions in multiple organ systems, including the brain and lungs). I began chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy and spent about six weeks in the hospital followed by another month inpatient at an acute rehabilitation center. Since then, I’ve received multiple rounds of chemotherapy and—when possible—engaged in intensive physical therapy to try to regain the ability to walk.
On the plus side, after a laminectomy soon after my diagnosis, I began an intense regimen of physical therapy whenever I was able to pursue it between recovery periods after rounds of chemo. As a result, although I’m still quite shaky on my feet and have to step carefully and put a lot of energy into it, I have generally recovered my walking ability and am mostly no longer dependent on a wheelchair. On the not-so-plus side, after several rounds of chemo, including high-dose chemo with an autologous stem cell transplant, it’s official that my tumor is “platinum-refractory”—so we are now exploring clinical trials and will enter one of them in the next few weeks.
Michael’s Life List:
- A Fujifilm X-T4 mirrorless camera.
- A Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS ultra wide-angle lens.