Video – Wyatte Durrette, Zac Brown Band Songwriter
Testimonial – Kyle Henne
Sometime in late January 2014, I noticed a discomfort that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I had taken my wife and my mom to a local movie theater to watch The Wolf of Wall-Street. Rather than enjoying the almost three-hour, dabauchery-filled, brilliantly-acted fest of a movie, I sat squirming for a position that alleviated my back pain. “I must have pulled a muscle in my upper-back,” I continued to tell myself.
About ten days later, shortness of breath joined the constant back pain. “Asthma! And a pulled back-muscle!” I convinced myself that I was having an extended streak of bad-luck that triggerred these two events almost simultaneously. I decided to wait it out, afterall I can always go to a massage parlor and get an inhaler if these problems don’t subside.
After two visits to my family physician, and two prescriptions for pain meds and steriods to curb inflamed muscles, my pain had worsened and I was unable to lay flat on my back without a sensation of asphyxiation. I visited my local Instacare. “Mr. Henne, I am unable to hear your left lung. Are you certain your family physician listened to you breathing?” The look in the doctor’s eyes told me that no inhaler was going to fix the problems I was having. “I don’t want to worry you too much, but you need to go to the closest hospital. I can call you an ambulance if you don’t think you can drive,” the doctor told me with grave concern written all over her face.
In what seemed like the longest twenty minutes of my life, I had driven to the closest emergency room, told them my name and my symptoms, and was laying on a hospital bed. Ten doctors must have come through my room to asked me a barrage of questions, and within 36 hours they had it narrowed down. “Kyle, it’s one of three possibilities: Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, or a Germ-Cell Tumor.” Cancer. “Will I be out of here by Friday? I have a job interview…. It’s an amazing opportunity for me and my family.” Just one of the few questions I had asked, not fully understanding the gravity of my situation.
The doctors eventually determined that I had a Germ-Cell Tumor. It’s a cancer that amounts to a birth-defect in which the cells that create your reproductive organs do not settle in their proper place, and develop into a growth that presses on the most vital organs in your chest; in my case, collapsing my left lung. Your reproductive system is completely normal, but a few straggler-cells do not make the journey and wreak havoc where they settle. They started a hyper-aggressive chemotherapy regiment immediately. I was given the “VIP Treatment,”which consisted of four different bags of fluid that last 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and they treatment was given every third week to give time for recouperation.
Excuse my language, but chemotherapy is a son-of-a-bitch. Hair-loss, appetite-loss, non-stop nauseau, incredible fatigue, all at the age of 27. The grueling treatment only gets worse with the creeping thoughts of “How am I going to pay for all of this?” “Why do I feel so alone?” “I hope my significant other/care givers are handling this OK.” “ I hope I am giving them enough faith in the future with or without me to allow them to handle this process.”
That’s where I began to understand how incredibly fortunate I was in this most unfortunate situation. Theboys.org heard of my situation and immediately sprung into action. They provided assistance that covered my entire spectrum of needs. They sent a pill-box to organize the dozens of pills I needed to take throughout the day, sent literature that explained what I should anticipate throughout my treatment, literature telling me what foods to eat to assist in my situation, contributed financially when money was incredibly tight, and most importantly gave me assurance that I wasn’t alone despite my inclinations telling me differently.
Never before had a group of seemingly-annonymous people given me such a strong feeling of community. Words cannot truly express the depth of gratitude I have for Theboys.org. The little things like pillboxes and literature provided such a fundamental amount of direction, and obviously, the enormous gestures like financial contributions alleviated the horrifying thoughts of financial ruin that come with the misfortune of getting sick. Theboys.org is an amazing foundation, filled with outstanding human beings. I am truly fortunate that they discovered me, and compassionately contributed to my cause.
Presently, I am out of the woods. After the extensive chemotherapy halted the growth of the tumor that threatened my existence, successful cardiothoracic surgery removed said tumor. I am now back to work, and have resumed my duties around the house. The road back to a sense of normalcy was long and trying. But it was aided by the touching and humbling gestures made by my loved ones, and a group of people that existed more as an idea, until they assisted in my greatest time of need.
Theboys.org also taught me the power of good deeds, and the power of paying-it-forward. I would love to play a role for others like they did for me. If any of you reading this have had the misfortune of contracting a cancer like mine, I will be more than willing to guide you in this process. If you need, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My wife and I would love to share our experience if it means clearing some of the uncertainty that comes with this terrible diagnosis. You are not alone, good people are out there and they are willing to help.
This story was shared with us by Bruce K. from the East Fresno Rotary Club during the 2012 Rotary International District Conference held in Lemoore, CA.
In May of 2011 we exhibited our booth at the Rotary International District Conference held in Monterey, CA. While we were there Bruce K from the East Fresno Rotary Club came by our booth in the Friendship House. He loved the wristbands we distribute to raise awareness so he took a handful of the Green Glo-in-the-Dark bands to give to some teenagers that he was taking on an upcoming cross state bicycle ride later that month. While he was on this ride with these teenagers he gave each one a wristband and took the opportunity to tell them to the best of his recollection about the concerns of testicular cancer that we had shared with him and asked them to share the information with their families. A few months later he received a phone call from a mother of one of the riders. She asked if he had given the wristband to her son. He said that he had. She shared with him that her son’s younger brother had seen the wristband with not only the catchy saying, but also the website for theBoys.org printed on it and after looking at the website he came to her and shared that he thought that he might have symptoms of testicular cancer. They went to see a doctor and the diagnosis was confirmed. However, because he had caught the disease so early they were able to perform a simple procedure and he was doing well. She told Bruce that had they not received that wristband her son would never have known to self-examine and would not have recognized the symptoms to catch the disease early which may very well have cost them the life of their son.