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Patient thought his back pain was a result of manual labor

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Patient thought his back pain was a result of manual labor

Preston Humbel didn’t have the slightest idea that back pain could be a symptom of testicular cancer. He was shocked when he heard the diagnosis.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

He’s been a builder for years. So when Preston Humbel’s aching back slowed him down, he thought he’d give it time and it would go away. But on the night he dropped to his knees in pain, his wife, Gina, took him to ER.

On this night the pain had moved to his abdomen. It was midnight on June 15. The next day he had a diagnosis of testicular cancer. An orchiectomy followed along with a biopsy. Shortly, after he learned his cancer was at Stage 3.

“He was sore for a while before he told me about it,” said his wife. “I now know that I ignored the symptoms,” said Humbel, 43.

Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes), located in the scrotum. It is rare but the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 35.

Symptoms may include a lump in the testicle, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, dull ache in the abdomen or groin, and back pain. Doctors recommend regular self-examinations for early detection.

Treatment for testicular cancer varies depending on the stage of diagnosis. It may involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and in some cases surveillance with regular CT scans.

Humbel, of Columbus, Ind. traveled an hour to IU Health Simon Cancer Center where he is in the care of Dr. Lawrence Einhorn.

Dr. Einhorn is known for his successful treatment of testicular cancer - germ cell tumors - using a mix of high dose chemotherapies and peripheral stem cell transplant. His patients come from throughout the United States and even from other countries.

“My surgeon back home studied under Dr. Einhorn in the 80s and told me this is where I need to be,” said Humbel. “He’s got so much energy and I immediately loved his bright plaid shirt and purple socks. He’s never in a hurry to leave you and just spends time helping you understand,” said Humbel, who has also met with IU Health urologist, Dr. Clint Cary.

Humbel, who works as a project manager for a construction company is the father of six daughters ages 18 months to 21 years. At this stage in life, they are living in a 37-foot camper while their home is on the market.

“I’m an open book so when someone asks how many kids I have and how long we’ve been married, I have to laugh,” said Humbel. “Gina and I had the same friends all through high school and have been married and divorced three times - to each other.”

With his wife at this side during treatment, Humbel said that they are in this fight together.

“If I were to give any advice to any man about his health, I’d tell them to go to the doctor if they think there’s something wrong. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

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