Joe Mercik didn’t check himself regularly for testicular lumps, even though he knew men should. But in the fall of 2010, he noticed something wasn’t right and was concerned that it could be testicular cancer. He made an appointment with his primary care doctor immediately, and before he returned home that day, his suspicions were confirmed. At age 35, he had testicular cancer.
Within a week, Joe met urologist Erdal Erturk, M.D., and had surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. By December, he had to start chemotherapy. Although the cancer wasn’t visible in imaging, blood tests indicated that his cancer was spreading. His medical oncologist at Wilmot, Deepak Sahasrabudhe, M.D., started him on three cycles of chemotherapy.
Before chemo, Joe met with a fertility specialist and had some of his sperm banked. Although the fertility specialist believed Joe might be able to have children someday, his body needed time to heal. Surprisingly, though, just short of a year after completing treatment, his wife Sarah learned she was pregnant. Their healthy baby boy, Luke, was born in October 2013. In September 2015, the couple welcomed a second child, this time a girl, Harleigh.
“He’s definitely a miracle, and she’s a bit of a miracle, too,” he says of his children.
As a former player for the Rochester Rhinos soccer team, he says he not only received support from friends and family, but also from the sports community in Rochester. He’s always looking for ways to help others facing cancer, and the Rhinos even helped Joe hold a fundraiser for Wilmot, something he really wanted to do to give back to the cancer community.
Today, Joe is doing well, despite some lingering side effects of the chemotherapy, such as numbness in his fingers. In February 2016, he celebrated his five-year anniversary of being cancer-free and he’s grateful for the care he received at UR Medicine and Wilmot.
“I’m always indebted to Wilmot and Dr. Deepak and Dr. Erturk,” he says.