Serge Carriere

Serge_Carriere - profileAge at Diagnosis: 14/21

Current Age (at time of profile): 26

Hometown

Gatineau, Quebec

How did you find out you were sick? What events led to the diagnosis?

I found a lump on my testicle. I then went to my family doctor who referred me to a specialist.

What year was it? What was your age at the time?

My first diagnosis was in 1995 I was 14. Then it came back in the other testicle in 2001 I was 21.

At what level of education were you at diagnosis?

Grade 9/1st year College.

Do you work? I work as a radiation therapist at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Center.

What was your diagnosis?

Testicular cancer of the left testicle then testicular cancer of the right testicle.

What are your career goals?

My goal is to help cancer patients attain a better quality of life.

What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?

When I was 14 it did not bother me all that much. I really did not know what I was in for. But when it happened at 21 I was in denial. I was also very angry, why did it happen to me again. What did I do to deserve this? These were all things that were going through my mind.

How did your family react?

Some of my family treated me as if I was a baby. Others tried not to talk about the situation, thinking it would just disappear, and my father had a pretty bad depression.

How did your friends react?

All of my friends were shocked. Some disappeared for a while, others stuck around but most of them did not know how to react. My best friend drove me from Ottawa to Montreal every 2nd weekend to bring me to my chemo treatments.

What did your treatment consist of?

Medical Side: For the first cancer I had a surgery to remove my testicle and then a second surgery to remove the lymph nodes in my abdomen. The first surgery I had no problems with. I was in the hospital for 2 days, a little bit of pain but everything else went fine. The lymph node dissection was a little more difficult. I was hospitalized for 6 weeks, in which 2 of the weeks I was not aloud to eat or drink. When I left the hospital I had lost 30 lbs.

The second time, I had the surgery again to remove the other testicle, and because I had lung mets [metastases], I had to undergo a very aggressive chemotherapy regime.

Non-Medical Side: The second cancer affected every aspect of my life, from being embarrassed of being a man with no testicles, to being angry for it happening again. I also had a tremendous amount of stress because there was no way I was going to cancel my school year even if I had to miss 1 week every 3 to get my chemo 200km from my school. I cannot lie; I was also terrified of dying.

In which hospital(s) were you treated?

Gatineau, QC.

What is your current medical status?

I would be what you call cured, because I have been in remission for over five years (six years in Oct.).

How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)?

Physically I feel ok, I do have chronic side affects from the chemo, such as; numbness of my fingers and toes. I also have problems with my heart because of the Cisplatine that was one of the chemo agents given to me.

I have to say that I am much more emotional then I was prioir to my second cancer. I am more sensitive to pretty much everything that goes on. I have changed quite a bit in my way of thinking. I no longer live for the future. I live day by day, and really try to make myself happy first.

What is/was the toughest part of your challenge?

Living in fear. Just waiting for a recurrence.

What is/was the best part of your challenge?

Learning that you should really live for today.

What really motivated you to keep going while you were sick?

Staying in school, and having a goal that was separate from beating the cancer.

What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience?

Cancer is not an old person’s disease. And that having cancer does not define who you are.

What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? How have they changed since before your diagnosis?

Strength, I feel that I have gained lots of strength because of my journey. Before I felt a lot of fear though.

What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?

There are really no preventative measures, to decrease the risk of testicular cancer. It is, however, important to be proactive. Knowing your body is very important. If you notice any changes seeing a Doctor is important.

Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?

No.

If you did not attend a support group, why?

There were none available.

I don’t know if I would have attended if one had been available.

But now I know it would have helped.

How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer?

A social worker at my work place told me about it.

I think it is a great source of inspiration.