Kyle Banks finds providence in life-changing diagnosis of testicular cancer.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
These are the words that Kyle Banks goes to when he thinks about his five months of treatment for testicular cancer. “It wasn’t fun, or enjoyable, but I believe God has His own plans, and I don’t understand the plan, but I had to trust in Him,” he said. “I am thankful that I’m alive and can talk with others who are going through cancer treatment. I don’t believe in coincidences… everything happens for a reason.”
On October 28, 2016, Kyle arrived home from work not feeling well, but he woke up the following morning feeling fine. He went into work at Rural King, where he was in charge of e-commerce, to prepare for the busy holiday season. By 10 am, he had excruciating pain in his lower back, side and stomach, so he drove himself to Sarah Bush Lincoln with thoughts that he was having appendicitis or a kidney stone. A CT scan revealed a mass. A second CT and an ultrasound confirmed the mass was cancerous. At just 29 years old, Kyle was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
That evening, Kyle and his wife, Vanessa, were set to represent Rural King at a donor reception for the new Sarah Bush Lincoln Regional Cancer Center, as the Infusion Room was named for Rural King. Their plans changed quickly.
Instead, Kyle contacted his uncle who is a surgeon in the Chicago area for advice about his next steps. Kyle’s uncle mentioned that his colleague, Surgeon Amrit Mangat, MD, is married to SBL Urologist David DiDomenico, MD, DO, FACS, and wondered if Kyle would give them permission to consult on his case. They put their heads together, and on Monday morning Dr. DiDomenico removed Kyle’s testicle.
By Wednesday, Kyle had met with Medical Oncologist Abdur Shakir, MD, who discussed the extensive treatment plan. “I remember he said, ‘You have a curable cancer. Let’s cure it!’ That was reassuring. He has a great demeanor, and he’s smart and has a great personality too.”
While Dr. DiDomenico recommended the new Regional Cancer Center for Kyle’s treatment, he also suggested that Kyle seek a second opinion from Indiana Health, Indianapolis – the top testicular cancer center in the nation. The specialist at Indiana Health concurred with Dr. Shakir’s treatment plan.
With the Sarah Bush Lincoln Regional Cancer Center just three miles from Kyle’s house and its doctors offering the exact same treatment as the top facility in the nation, Kyle opted to receive treatment locally. He was one of the first patients the Regional Cancer Center staff saw when the new facility opened. “There are great people who work in the Regional Cancer Center and at Sarah Bush Lincoln making things a lot easier for people – from the greeter at the front door asking if we need help to the staff who joked and laughed with us. Laughter really is the best medicine,” Kyle said.
His treatment included four three-week cycles. The first week, he received chemotherapy Monday through Friday for five hours a day. The second and third weeks, he received treatment one day a week, and then the cycle began again. The treatments wiped him out so much that he ‘lived’ on the family sofa for weeks, he said.
Following the 12 weeks of chemotherapy, Kyle underwent extensive surgery to remove 46 lymph nodes from his abdomen, to help ensure the cancer had not spread. That surgery meant another long recovery.
The journey was difficult, but Kyle credits his care team, including his wife, for helping him through. “Vanessa deserves a medal for what she went through. At the time, Asa was two-and-a-half years old, and Fiona was one year old, and with me, it was like she had three kids that she was taking care of for six months. I had a lifting restriction so I couldn’t pick up my kids. I just felt useless. And I had no energy so I wouldn’t move for hours at a time. She made special foods for me and made sure I was comfortable. I don’t know if I could have done it like she did,” he said. “One day I was sitting in chemo and the nurse told me to turn around and look out the window, and there was Vanessa and the kids with signs that said, ‘Go Daddy!’ She was a trooper!”
Always looking for the silver lining in life, Kyle said that he’s fortunate for the time he was able to spend at home with his family, watching his daughter take her first steps, and sharing a chair with his children, as he read countless books to them. “It taught me an invaluable lesson. I realized that I wasn’t in control of my life. I never really was. This was all part of His plan. I just didn’t know what the plan was.”
The cancer diagnosis also taught him how quickly circumstances can change your life. “It helped me change my focus on where I find value, and it reshuffled my priorities. My priorities were always on work, but this made me re-evaluate what defines me,” Kyle said. “I learned that work goes on, even when I am not there.” As the e-commerce manager, he became sick just prior to the biggest shopping time of the year, yet the organization made it through the holidays without him. Now Kyle is a buyer for the automotive area at Rural King and finds new challenges and joy in his work.
“Cancer kicks your butt, but be thankful for what you have in the moment and enjoy life. It could always be worse. Try to find the positive in it,” he advised “I’m still alive and I am thankful for my family and my supporters. It brought a lot of us closer together at a time that I would have never have spent with them.”
For more information about the SBL Regional Cancer Center, call 217-258-2250 or go to www.sarahbush.org.