Zaring was diagnosed in January with stage III testicular cancer. The troop selected Zaring as the give-back project, donating $300 in cookie proceeds to the Bartow County E911 dispatcher April 10.
“We had actually already chosen to plant a garden somewhere and then I happened to come across your story on Facebook through a couple of mutual friends I had in common with you. I immediately asked the girls if that was something that would rather do instead to give back,” said Troop Leader Amanda O’Bryant. “... As soon as they heard cancer, they were like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s what we want to do.’ They were all about it. When I told them you also worked for Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, they were even more engulfed by this because not only have you helped our community and served, you’ve been there answering calls, helping people through a rough time. We only think it’s fitting that someone’s here helping you through a very rough time in your life.”
“I really appreciate it,” Zaring whispered.
With April marking Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, Zaring hopes his story brings attention to the cause.
“I honestly didn’t want to believe it, but I have to accept it and do what they say and go on, I guess,” he said of his diagnosis.
Zaring began chemotherapy March 31 and will undergo three rounds over a course of nine weeks. Surgery will follow.
“They said there’s a 1 percent chance it’s going to shrink the tumor that I have, so I’ll definitely have surgery after,” he said.
According to the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation, the rate of testicular cancer has been increasing but, if caught early, is highly curable.
“The odds are really, really good because it responds to treatment so well,” said Zaring’s girlfriend, Maggie Ball. “Back in the ’70s it was a death sentence to be diagnosed with testicular cancer, and now, it’s like 90, 95 percent survival rate. It sucks that he has to have it but the numbers are in his favor. They didn’t find it in any of his other organs; it’s in his lymph nodes and that’s what the surgery will be for — to remove a bunch of the lymph nodes.”
Testicular cancer, which develops in one or both of the testicles, occurs when germ cells experience abnormal growth.
“Germ cells, like stem cells, have the potential to form any cell in the body. Normally these cells lie dormant until sperm fertilizes an egg. If germ cells (a sexual reproductive cell) become cancerous, they multiply, forming a mass of cells called tumors that begin to invade normal tissue. When this happens these cells have the potential to form a variety of embryonic like features including but not limited to; hair, nails, teeth etc.,” according to www.testicularcancerawarenessfoundation.org.
Like many other forms of cancer, testicular cancer can metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body, most often to the abdomen, liver, lungs, bones and brain. A rapidly growing disease, testicular cancer can double in size in just 10 to 30 days.
A dispatcher for eight years, Zaring hopes to return to the Bartow County Jail as a deputy before transitioning over to patrol.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
Donations may be made to Zaring through any Wells Fargo location or at www.gofundme.com/stephenzaring.
According to the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation:
• Testicular cancer is the leading cancer in men ages 15 to 35.
• In this age group, more men will die of testicular cancer than women of breast cancer.
• Every hour a male is diagnosed with testicular cancer.
• Approximately 8,820 new cases will arise in 2014 in the U.S.
• 1 out of 270 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer.
• Approximately 380 deaths will occur in 2014.
• If detected early, testicular cancer is over 95 percent curable.
Signs and symptoms include:
• A lump of any size on the testicle.
• Enlargement of the testicle, change in shape, size or any irregularities.
• Pain or discomfort in the scrotum or testicle.
• A dull ache or sense of pressure in the lower abdomen or back.
• A feeling of heaviness or fullness in the scrotum.
• Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts due to elevated hormone levels.
— Source: www.testicularcancerawarenessfoundation.org