Meet Adam Frey: How I got here, part I
I hope to share with you all the story that plunged me first into a tree, an emergency room, and then into a fight with cancer. This is a pretty long story and I hope to use these first two posts to bring it up to speed. I hope you all enjoy and that maybe my fight will inspire or help you with yours, or at the least that you get maybe a little laugh, a little cry, or a little something. Well, I guess the best way is to start from the top.
On March 26, I was on my way to school at Cornell University and was driving along eating McDonalds when I was forced off the road. My '97 Honda CRV swerved right, then I cut it back left causing it to roll into a tree going 55 MPH. When the dust settled, I found myself still in my front seat, sitting next to a tree in the bed of my SUV. My whole body was numb, and I felt myself start to slip into unconsciousness. I just told myself no. My neck was really hurt, but upon gaining my motor functions, I kicked the door open, got out and began gathering all of my things, some 50 feet away out the back window. The back window that my head was hanging out. The same back window that had left some cuts and scrapes in the back of my neck.
I found my phone, called my roommate and instead of him driving me to class, he drove me to the emergency room. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, there I was, with an IV, and on my way to get checked for internal injuries. The doctor told me what my roommate told me, which was what I already knew. I should have never survived the crash, let alone walk away with just a pulled neck muscle and whiplash.
I was strong though; unbreakable. I just got done with the NCAA wrestling tournament three days before. I was going to start training to make the U.S Olympic Trials in Greco-Roman wrestling. I had plans to compete in the grappling world team trials and had my sights set on winning the worlds. I had goals, ambitions, and opportunities. In three hours that all came to a temporary end. A routine CT scan to check for internal bleeding came back.
I could tell right away something was just not right. The ER doctor went from calling me Mr. Frey to "hunny." She told me to come inside and shut the door. I was told that it was a miracle that I was even alive...again. I was told that I must be one of the strongest people she ever met to not have suffered anything more than two scrapes and whiplash. I was told that three tumors showed up on the CT scan, and that they probably were cancerous. I was basically told that at 22, my life was taking a whole new direction completely different than what I was planning on.
Now, when you get told something like that, you enter a state of conscious delirium. I was sitting there, six hours away from home, phone dead, in a state of shock. I never smoked in my life. In fact, I honestly do not know how to light a cigarette. I dieted, ate right, worked out like a machine, and was in top physical condition, but there it was. My parents were shocked, my coaches were shocked, my friends and teammates were shocked.
Two days later I had a biopsy, which basically was a sampling of the largest tumor, now estimated at twelve pounds, which set up base between my kidneys. To do this, they stuck a ten inch needle through my back and then stuck a smaller needle inside that one into the tumor to get a sampling of what it was. It was deemed cancerous within five minutes. It was March 28, 2008 and I was diagnosed with cancer.
My parents rode up as soon as they found out about the tumors, and I was out of school and back home the day of the biopsy. Within a week I had an appointment at the Hillman Center in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and they told me what it was. I had germ cell testicular cancer that had started between my kidneys and spread to my liver and lung. It is a very rare form of cancer that does not form in the testicles, but rather from where they formed during the embryo stage. A few of those cells don't drop down to their current location and they became cancerous.
A few days later I was told just how serious this entire thing was. I met my current doctor, Doctor Appleman, and found out that my cancer was a rapid growth strand and was already in stage III. Testicular cancer goes from stage zero to three. I was in the most advanced stage and given a 60% chance of survival. The side effects of treatment were dismal. Castration, hair loss, sterilization, surgeries, possible stem cell transplants, possible bone marrow transplants, nausea, achiness, loss of appetite, and fatigue were now what I had to look forward to.
This is where I am going to stop this week. I feel I should tell you all why I decided to share this experience with you and write for a site advocating something I never did. It is because I know how I felt sitting there being told what my odds were, and I looked at my mother and seen her face. The first question I was asked with my cancer was do you smoke? It was followed by do you chew tobacco? Nothing I have done in my life could prepare me for the feeling I felt when I was told that news. I sincerely do not want anyone else to have to feel that same emotion. That is why I am here to help all of you. I will continue next week with the rest of my story, and if you feel up to it I also have a daily blog at www.adamfrey.us that has tracked my progress since my diagnosis.
Take Care and God Bless,