Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2004 | Features

Q & A with Brock Ita

Brock Ita

How did your diagnosis come about?

Near the end of spring semester, 2004, I had noticed a lump down there and was really kind of freaked out about it. I tried not to think about it very much and thought that some days it would be smaller than others. I wanted to make it through the summer because of football workouts; I wanted to compete this summer for a spot.

Did someone urge you to see the doctor?

Yeah, that's a kind of funny story. It was the weekend of my birthday and my best friend came down to celebrate with me. He'd just gotten back from Maine, where his father had a checkup for the cancer he'd been diagnosed with a year earlier. Anyway, while he was at the cancer center, he picked up a Lance Armstrong bracelet. He came to my place that weekend and gave it to me, both of us not knowing what was going to take place the following week.

That weekend I told him about the lump and by that time I was experiencing some pain with it and he told me if I didn't get it checked out within a week he was telling someone. I talked to my parents the next day and that Monday—on July 19—I was diagnosed with stage two testicular cancer.

What went through your mind when your doctor gave you the news?

My parents and my best friend provided an unbelievable support system when I was at the doctor's office, although when I first got the news I was by myself by choice, because I knew the news wasn't going to be good and I couldn't bear to see my parents' reactions.

I took it well from the very beginning. I was never in horror or real disbelief. I think dealing with the lump for so long really prepared me for the bad news. The whole time I hoped it would be nothing, but I knew it could be something bigger than what I'd hoped.

My parents took it a lot harder than I did, but that is to be expected because parents are so protective of their children. But they turned to their faith, as did I, and we knew that things were only going up.

What was your treatment process like? How long did it take?

The first thing was to get the cancer removed and that required an immediate surgery. Then, before the lab report came back, the doctors determined I needed another surgery to remove the lymph nodes. I had about ten days between the two surgeries. They got the lymph nodes out and found that there was cancer in one or two of the 20 they removed.

At that point, they told me the cancer could still be in my body, but that wasn't very likely. They left it up to me whether to do more treatment or not. My family and I thought it was in my best interest to go ahead and get the two series of chemo treatments. Those were three weeks apiece.

The doctors were real aggressive with me because I was young and in very good shape. They figured my body could handle it. The chemo didn't make me very sick at all. I mainly fought fatigue.

The whole thing was done in about two and a half months.

What is your prognosis now?

I still have five years of checkups to determine that, but the numbers are in my favor. Given the treatment I received, I think they were four in 400 that the cancer would ever return.

Is there anything you would say to other young men about taking care of their health?

Something like this really makes you re-evaluate your life. The little things become very important and you don't take anything for granted. Being so young, you also think about how great life is. My message to other guys out there would be to take care of yourselves. Definitely, do not wait on anything suspicious. You can be the healthiest guy around and this stuff can still get you, so check yourself and go to the doctor if you ever think something might be wrong.