By Jonesa Rodriguez - May 27, 2021
In 2017, Tommy Dallenbach faced one of the biggest battles of his life – a fight with cancer. At the age of 18 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer after finding a lump in his left testicle.
Knowing what he felt was something of concern, Tommy immediately alerted his parents, Bruce and Kimmie. Their next steps were crucial in saving their child's life.
The family sprang into action by quickly addressing their concerns with the family physician. Within a matter of days, Tommy had his left testicle removed, confirming the diagnosis of testicular cancer.
Additional testing confirmed the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in his abdomen, he began chemotherapy, but the mass did not respond as expected.
This raised concern for not only Tommy but his parents. That’s when they decided to seek treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center.
Under the care of Dr. Philippe Spiess, assistant chief of Surgical Services and senior member of the Department of Genitourinary Oncology at Moffitt, Tommy was diagnosed with a rare genitourinary cancer - growing teratoma syndrome.
“We recognized quickly upon seeing him that he had a condition infrequently seen and that it was best to treat it by expedited surgery, which we did just a few days after seeing him,” said Spiess.
The surgery included the removal of all the involved lymph nodes and his left kidney, as the growing masses had involved the blood vessels to his left kidney.
“We were able to remove all cancer successfully, and he had a great surgical outcome,” said Spiess.
Now four years later, Tommy is cancer free.
“The importance here is that young men should be aware that a self-exam of their testicles in the shower regularly should be done as this can be the first sign of testicular cancer, which is highly treatable and curable,” said Spiess.
Most testicular cancer patients are between the ages of 20 and 40.
To show their appreciation to Spiess and Moffitt, Tommy’s father, Bruce Hall of REO Speedwagon, partnered with the Celebration Exotic Car Festival to raise $76,000 for cancer research.
“Learning that your child has been diagnosed with cancer is something we wouldn't wish on anyone. However, the care, compassion and expertise of Dr. Spiess is something we will forever be grateful for,” said Hall. “The more we can help raise awareness around testicular cancer, the better.”
Hall encourages all parents to have a conversation with their sons about the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer.
“Having such a close relationship with Tommy ensured zero hesitation in coming to us when finding the original mass. When time is of the essence, every precious moment counts,” said Hall
The REO Speedwagon Fund for Rare GU Cancer Research will promote education and spread awareness to young men about the disease to inspire early detection.
Tommy says he hopes this fund will spark conversations amongst young men and their loved ones when they feel something is off with their bodies, so actions can be taken as fast as possible.
“You see what happened with me and how things got worse, imagine if I would have never spoken to my parents about it,” said Tommy “I want people my age to have awareness of testicular cancer and its prevalence.”