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Jim Nulph was just 29 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He’d felt a lump in the shower, but didn’t pay much attention until it doubled in size in two weeks. “That was scary,” recalled Jim. “But being a guy, I went into a state of denial. My wife Estelle took it hard. It took me a couple of days to process it. I wanted to be strong for my wife and kids.”
Jim quickly saw a urologist who recommended immediate surgery and that Jim go to the Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program near his home in New Jersey. In October 2011, Jim had a radical orchiectomy, which is surgery to remove his left testicle.
Jim learned his testicular cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.
Pathology results revealed that Jim’s cancer had spread to several lymph nodes in his abdominal cavity. This would require aggressive chemotherapy. He underwent 20 rounds of chemotherapy. “It was rough. I lost my hair and got pretty sick in the beginning,” recalled Jim, who was hospitalized for four days. He was unable to work during the treatment. Being young and in good health otherwise was a saving grace for this father of two. “I’d almost always be the youngest person in the infusion room,” he said.
Three months after the treatment, tests revealed residual cancer in his abdominal lymph nodes. Jim’s doctor recommended a second procedure and additional treatment. He was referred David Y.T. Chen, MC, FACS, a urological surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
“I called Dr. Chen’s office in June 2012 and said, ‘let’s get it done,” admitted Jim, who added, “The sooner, the better.” Jim had a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection in July.
"Dr. Chen is incredibly helpful and supportive, not to not just me, but to my wife and family."
“I had envisioned a tiny little surgery, but I was wrong,” shared Jim. “It took six hours!” Because he had undergone abdominal surgery as a teenager, Dr. Chen used was able to use the same entry point. “Due to Dr. Chen’s precision, my scar actually looks better than before the surgery,” he said. “Everybody we’ve worked with at Fox Chase has been top of the line. Dr. Chen is incredibly helpful and supportive, not to just me, but to my wife and family.”
Although Lance Armstrong has put a face on testicular cancer, it’s still not an easy disease for most people to talk about. “I don’t have a problem with it,” said Jim. “It’s one of those cancers that can be easier to treat with early detection. Anything I can do to spread the word, I want to do.” Jim believes that going through a cancer journey is physically demanding, so he felt fortunate that he was young and in good shape. “In a way, I’m fortunate. I'm in the clear now, so I feel doubly lucky.”