The Surgery

An Orchiectomy Would Entirely Remove My Left Testicle Due to Suspected Testicular Cancer

Friday, October 28th was my surgery, just ten days after my initial call to the doctor. If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s that cancer is not always a slow-moving process. In my head, the task of discovering, diagnosing, and treating cancer takes months, if not years. Even factoring in when I made the initial discovery in mid-September, it had been less than six weeks since this all started.

Mallory took off work to take me to the hospital. We arrived around 6:00 am to arrive for prep work. I had to change into a gown, and then they started prepping me. The prior evening, as part of my pre-op appointment, a nurse had drawn blood, and they had to put in an IV line in the morning. I do not like needles. I do not like them here or there; I do not like them anywhere. I especially don’t like them when they don’t work right the first time and they have to put in a second.

Dr. Dumont came in to discuss the surgery with Mal and me, which was called a “radical inguinal orchiectomy.” In layman’s terms, they would be entirely removing my left testicle. Dr. Dumont had told me this when I had initially met with him, but it was still something that I was not fully ready to hear. Why couldn’t they just remove or biopsy the affected area? Due to the anatomy of the scrotum, this was not possible. It would potentially cause even more harm to my body. In nearly 95% of cases, a testicular tumor is found to be malignant. Trying to biopsy it inside me could spread cancer cells more quickly and could leave behind precancerous cells that hadn’t yet been detected.

Losing a testicle, even with cancer confirmed, was more than just physical.

Halloween, senior year of college. Quite the ballsy costume, you think?

In addition to internally preparing for the trauma of surgery, I had to grapple internally with the fact that I would be losing 50% of my testicles. Much of my college vernacular revolved around the word “balls.” If you were taking charge of life, you were grabbing life by the balls. You chickened out? You have no balls. Literally now, I would have less balls than most people.

Biologically, there would be no impact.

You only need one testicle to produce testosterone and sperm, and it just takes one sperm to father a child. Dr. Dumont did share that there would be a psychological impact. Something that is a direct physical manifestation of my manhood would be removed from me. I hesitated in telling people, because I didn’t want them to think I was less of a man. When I shared that fear with those who knew, they assured me I was more of a man for doing this surgery. I smiled, but deep down, I knew I was literally less of a man.

In deciding to share this news on ABSOT, I knew I had to be… on the ball. Some people may look at me differently now, knowing this information, but I wouldn’t be doing my story and the journey of others justice if I omitted this fact. It is a very common treatment for suspicion of testicular cancer; one that is used in nearly all cases where a solid mass is present. One of my goals with ABSOT is to destigmatize men’s health issues. Losing my testicle was something that I felt I needed to keep hidden at first due to my own personal (and on a larger scale, societal) views, but I know that sharing my story may help others to share theirs and get a conversation going.

Overall, the shock of losing one testicle has subsided. As my father put it, “It sucks to lose one of your balls, but keeping it and letting the cancer kill you would be truly nuts.”

But right before an orchiectomy is a different story. 

Losing an integral part of me still hadn’t completely sunk in, even after Dr. Dumont’s thorough explanation, but I knew, as with everything that had happened to me so far, there was only time to act, not react. After Dr. Dumont left, the anesthesiologist visited. We got into a slight argument over if wisdom teeth anesthesia counts as real anesthesia, which apparently it doesn’t. Finally, they took Mallory to the waiting area and wheeled me to the operating room. I remember entering the room, and then nothing.

The incision one day after surgery

About two hours later I woke up. There was a nice nurse attending to me. Sadly, there are no funny stories about me coming out of anesthesia. The nurse talked with me a little bit, brought me water and juice, and walked Mallory back. I was told that the surgery went well and the mass had been sent off for biopsy. I got dressed, used the restroom, and was discharged.

My incision is on my groin and is about as long as my index finger. The pain started almost immediately. We had to stop at Panera to get me some food so I could have my first round of Percocet as soon as we got home.

While the surgery seemed like the biggest obstacle at first, the real pain was soon to begin.

Click here to read the next part of my story, where I begin the long process of recovering from surgery.

A self exam is how most cases of testicular cancer are detected early. Click the image for video directions or click here for a larger version


Want to work with Justin? Click here to learn more.



ABSOT is endorsed by the Laughter Arts and Sciences Foundation, a registered 501.c.3 charity. To make a tax-deductible contribution to help continue ABSOT's work with testicular cancer awareness and men's health, click the image below.

29 Responses

  1. dclough says:

    Oh man! I can only imagine the pain! Probably nothing worse. I didn't realize you had to go through this. I figured the chemo would take care of it. That's a huge incision

  2. dclough says:

    Oh man! I can only imagine the pain! Probably nothing worse. I didn't realize you had to go through this. I figured the chemo would take care of it. That's a huge incision

  3. It's healing well now! The surgery was being the chemo, but wasn't enough. Recovery was a different story, but you'll have to tune in next week to hear about that!

  4. It's healing well now! The surgery was being the chemo, but wasn't enough. Recovery was a different story, but you'll have to tune in next week to hear about that!

  5. claudia soto says:

    You are a very brave man to put your story out there. I know how difficult it can be for men to talk about it , my husbad also went through testicular cancer last year.
    Stay strong, God bless you

  6. claudia soto says:

    You are a very brave man to put your story out there. I know how difficult it can be for men to talk about it , my husbad also went through testicular cancer last year.
    Stay strong, God bless you

  7. I want to get more conversation flowing about men's health. This is what I can do to reframe the conversation. I hope your husband is doing well.

  8. I want to get more conversation flowing about men's health. This is what I can do to reframe the conversation. I hope your husband is doing well.

  1. May 14, 2019

    […] thing that has ever happened to me (he says on his blog where he’s also written about losing both his left testicle and all of his hair, regrowing white blood cells, and emptying the contents of his stomach for five […]

  2. May 14, 2019

    […] is the only acceptable time to begin setting up for Christmas. Since I was still recovering from my orchiectomy, I physically couldn’t put up our wooden reindeer in my front yard. Kyle noticed this and asked […]

  3. May 14, 2019

    […] been exactly a year since my orchiectomy (my orchiectomyversary, if you will), but it feels like this all just started yesterday. I clearly […]

  4. May 14, 2019

    […] marks a special moment in my life. It’s the two year anniversary of when I last had two testicles – or as I like to call it, my orchiectomyversary. Although I was initially upset at the […]

  5. May 14, 2019

    […] experiences. He said he also had testicular cancer but didn’t need further treatment beyond his orchiectomy. He shared that he didn’t feel like he should have been in that survivor lap, but in my opinion, […]

  6. May 14, 2019

    […] doing this for me. I need to know I can do this” This part reminded me of when I had just had my orchiectomy and was determined to get up and walk a few days later. It was tough, but I had to prove to myself […]

  7. May 15, 2019

    […] I think we have Lance Armstrong to “thank” for the thoughts of biking resulting in testicular cancer. While cycling doesn’t cause testicular cancer, it won’t improve your biking ability. I’m not entirely sure where the second two notions stemmed from, but I will say that my urologist actually told me to wear tighter underwear after my orchiectomy. […]

  8. May 16, 2019

    […] and our stories progressed quickly once discovering a lump. Both of our initial diagnoses and surgeries occurred within a span of less than one month in the fall. Though we had never met before, we had a […]

  9. May 16, 2019

    […] soon as I got home from surgery, I took my first round of Percocet. When I took my Vicodin when I had wisdom teeth, it had a huge […]

  10. May 17, 2019

    […] Overall, they were uneventful. I was given a wheelchair to help reduce pain in moving, which was a godsend. I had to get another IV put in for the contrast dye and the nurse who injected me was incredible. She said to breathe in and then breathe out hard right as she penetrated me with the needle. I felt almost no pain whatsoever. Where was she before my surgery? […]

  11. May 17, 2019

    […] It had been nearly two weeks since I hadn’t seen my students and I wanted to get out of the house. I also knew I had to come clean to them about my surgery. […]

  12. May 20, 2019

    […] concept of lost time. Compared to some cancer treatments that last for years on end, four months of surgery/treatment followed by an additional few months of feeling “off” during recovery isn’t too […]

  13. May 20, 2019

    […] this is something that I should have seen coming. They removed half of my “lower brain” and left my upper brain fully intact… no wonder it’s taking twice as long to […]

  14. May 21, 2019

    […] pm: On this particular day, I have a follow up with Dr. Dumont (my urologist who did the surgery) to check on the healing progress of my incision and to receive another screening of my remaining […]

  15. May 21, 2019

    […] probably had your testicle removed by this point (for me, it was my left one – RIP Lefty) and the pathology came back as cancerous. Most […]

  16. June 27, 2019

    […] cancer journeys encounter a fork in the road. Dan started chemo right away, whereas I began with my orchiectomy. Once I was done recovering from my surgery, I began chemotherapy, and in a bizarro world twist, […]

  17. June 27, 2019

    […] scar from my surgery finally appears to be fully healed and doesn’t bother me when I bend over anymore. The […]

  18. July 22, 2019

    […] month, through a radical orchiectomy, doctors removed my left testicle. (Editor’s Note: Hey! They took Lefty from me, too! […]

  19. August 22, 2019

    […] As a member of the cancer community, I hear a ton of stories about disastrous trips to the doctor and not having needs met. I’m always shocked by these reports, as I have had nothing but great doctors throughout my cancer care – even including the urologist who took a testicle from me. […]

  20. August 22, 2019

    […] As a member of the cancer community, I hear a ton of stories about disastrous trips to the doctor and not having needs met. I’m always shocked by these reports, as I have had nothing but great doctors throughout my cancer care – even including the urologist who took a testicle from me. […]

  21. October 28, 2019

    […] this 28th day of October to commemorate and remember our dearly departed Lefty the Testicle. He was taken from this Earth three years ago today, and it’s high time we reflect upon his […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *