My Life and Death Testimonial for Cancer

My ‘Legacy’ 

In the first months after my HPV lab Diagnosis test, my fears concerned not only whether I would survive but maybe even more: “What if I wasn’t enough for her?” I was afraid my wife would meet someone else and conclude that life with me was not so great. I was a victim, proven by STD test results over time. On the other hand, I hoped she would not have to be alone, so it was not a kind of jealousy. It was a fear of not standing up to comparisons with non-infected people.

I also feared my children would not miss me and that life without me would not be very different. I am lucky to say these things to my family, and we can discuss them. My youngest daughter replied in a very comforting way. “If mummy is happy with another man, then it will just be the REST of her life, which doesn’t compare to the building of a life you two did together.”

I feel blessed with my kids. Saying things like that fills me with pride over the people they have become.

Social Life 

It is very easy to say you know who your real friends are when you need them, but it is so true. You learn quickly who cares and who asks ‘how are you’ when they expect to receive a positive response to an HPV test.

But people surprise you in both ways, with unexpected support and friends who do not contact you even once. The worst I encountered was someone who phoned me and said: “I heard from our aunt that you’re okay now, so I thought I could ask you how you are.”

You need support when you are down, not on your way back up. That is how you discover who your real friends are: Those who see you are having a ‘bad moment’ and come and sit next to you and are okay with your tears. Those people don’t try to tell you everything will be okay but that whatever happens, they will take care of your family.

After all the treatment, a ‘normal’ social life does not come back. You need a lot more rest, which impacts not only your social life but also that of your partner.

Practicalities 

One of the things my oncologist told me after we got the STD Test result and on the day we met was: “Make sure you take care of everything.” And this is what I tried to do.

I made sure my wife and children were well looked after and aware of everything they needed to know. House, money, insurance, and things like that. It’s not difficult to do, and it takes your mind off other things.

But I couldn’t take care of the really important things in life, such as an HPV test. How can I stop the cold bed when my wife sleeps? Who will bring her something to drink when she watches the TV? Then who will kiss her when she wakes up or goes to sleep? Who will run his hand through her hair when she passes by? Who will talk to her at breakfast or over dinner?

Taking care of practical things is important and will avoid difficulties for those left behind, but it is so small compared to all the rest.

Medical 

Every time a follow-up scan comes around, you feel terrible. The patient’s worry is somehow inversely related to the time between two scans! It diminishes over time, however, without disappearing completely.

A thorough understanding of the expected evolution of the disease does help a lot: Early recurrences and metastases are not uncommon (and I suffered two of them), but as time goes by, the likelihood of a recurrence decreases.

However, the effects of the STD Panel Tests and relevant treatments are still there and cannot be ignored. Bilateral lymphedema affects the amount of rest you need. Chemotherapy has an impact on your hearing, as it is ototoxic etc., etc.

My wife says that might be age; however, before my diagnosis from my Home HPV test, I heard but didn’t listen, so not much has changed!

Professional 

Although the people I work with seem not to notice, I feel a clear reduction in my capabilities in both the amount and quality of my work. My concentration is much less, and I can’t keep it up for long.

I’m still capable of analysing situations, including new ones, but it is much harder to remember everything. My hearing impairment affects meetings, especially virtual meetings during COVID-19. I also need more time to recover after a working day or week.

But I manage, despite having to take a few steps backwards. This is particularly hard when others don’t seem to accept it and still think you are the same person as you were before. Every time you have to say no to an invitation or question, you once again confront your disease.

A ‘Normal Life? 

Now, two and half years after my diagnosis and two years since my last surgery, I feel, given the circumstances, quite all right. “Much better than expected and as good as the best I hoped for,” I answer when asked how I’m doing.

Is it a ‘normal life’? Well, can you tell me what is a normal life? Before I had my STD Swab Test diagnosis, life was a lot easier, but I was aware I was lucky and a lot of people don’t have the life I had.

Let’s face it: I never knew hunger or thirst. I wasn’t touched by war or disease. I lost no one in my youth and had no real work problems. And now? Reading my story this far, you’ll know what has changed, but life is still beautiful and worth living.

The most unpleasant thing is when people say: “Okay, you’ve had cancer, had a few operations, chemotherapy and radiation. It must have been hard, but now it’s time to move on.”

Can we ever move on? The impact on all our lives is so huge it lasts forever.

There is Always Hope 

To other patients, you still have a chance, no matter how bad your STD Full Profile prognosis is. A five-year prognosis of 10% means just that: One out of 10 will be still alive after five years. It is just one, so why can’t it be you?

So take everything the doctors offer you as a treatment. They only offer things that might benefit you and increase your likelihood of being that one out of 10.

Every treatment has its side effects, of course. HPV-type testing, for one. Surgery is not a power nap; chemotherapy is not a glass of wine, and radiation is not sunbathing. But ask yourself this: What would you prefer, living with the effects of therapy or being dead without them?

I can tell you that life, after all, is said and done and is still worth living, even though it might be a different life from the one you had before.

One more thing: fight your cancer, but don’t try to fight your emotions. Allow them into your life and try to have some people around you to talk about them.

Vaccination 

At the moment, most girls in Belgium are being vaccinated against HPV, but boys are not. I guess the reason is that cervical cancer in women is about five times more common than penile cancer in men.

As STD vaccination is part of preventive medicine, the costs must be weighed against the potential benefits. So it comes down to an economic question: How much would it cost to save 10 years of life for one patient, and how much is that worth to society?

Vaccinating girls and STD Home testing could also benefit men, as less virus would be circulating in their partners. This could reduce their risk of becoming infected. So, it may be unnecessary in boys; time will tell.

On the other hand, of course, it would seem logical to also give a test for the HPV vaccine to boys before they become sexually active. And I would not have had cancer if I had been vaccinated. So yes, please!