My Kidney Cancer Story
This is me being wheeled out of the hospital by my Dad, 3 days after kidney removal..
If you're a reader of this blog, then you know that I recently got diagnosed with kidney cancer.
It all happened so fast and I really want to tell the story. I never knew how prevalent Kidney Cancer was in the world until I found out I had it.. I'll start at the beginning, which is the story of how I "luckily" came into early detection.
On September 2nd, 2010 - I was at work and it was about 11am. I do not have a physically demanding job. I'm a manufacturing manager in a production environment, with printing presses and bindery equipment, and 24 employees in my dept. that do all the work.
My side started hurting. It actually started the day before slowly, right in the middle of my stomach, after I ate some yogurt from the company deli (this is an entirely different story). I thought it was gas..
Anyway, the pain moved over to my side, was moving up, and getting more painful by the minute. If I held my side in, the pain was relieved somewhat. So I was walking around the plant holding my side..
As it got progressively worse, I called my doctor, and got an appt. at 1:45pm.
By the time I got there, I had a fever, and the pain was quite elevated. The doctor took one look at me and said: "You're having an appendicitis attack, go to emergency right now - I'll call ahead and let them know you are coming".
My wife meets me at the hospital, and is with me from this point forward.
The doctor at the emergency ward cat scans me immediately, and in 30 minutes, I have the results of the catscan
I will try to quote exactly what we were told verbatim at that moment:
"Dennis you don't have appendicitis, you have colitis, which is an infection in your colon. This is very serious, and we'll immediately admit you so that we can start you on an IV of antibiotics and pain meds, you are going to be in a lot of pain"
"The Cat scan also revealed a mass in your left kidney that is cancer. My experience tells me that you will most likely lose your kidney after the colitis is cleared up"
"The cancer is totally unrelated to the colitis, and you are very fortunate, because in many cases, kidney cancer is not caught until it's way too late, because there are no symptoms until after it metastases.
Thats it - thats how you find out you have cancer - just like that.
It took me 3 days in the hospital and 3 weeks of antibiotics to clear the colitis. By that time, I had met with the urologist, and he told me my kidney had to come out. If it didn't come out, I would die, and it would take about 3 - 4 years, because the cancer will spread throughout my body cavity and organs.
I got the surgery to remove the kidney 3 weeks from the day I was diagnosed. The surgery was simple. It was hand assisted laparoscopic. A 5 inch incision where his hand can fit in plus 3 other holes for the scopes. He reached up in there and pulled it out after he cut all the cords.
I spent 3 days in the hospital, then an additional 3 weeks recovering from the surgery. I cannot tell physically that the kidney is gone - other than the scar. Everything works exactly as before. Today is January 19th 2011, and I'm exactly 4 months post op. I'm struggling with energy, and just having a hard time getting into the overall swing of things.
I was lucky in that we caught it early, and when we took out my kidney, ALL of the cancer was removed. The tumor was the size of 2 golf balls, and was definitely growing.
I am incredibly lucky.
I had no symptoms from the cancer. I would NOT have had any, until it was too late. The colitis saved my life. I have to get screened for cancer every 6 months for the next 3 years. Right now - I'm cancer free, everything has been checked. Everything
The mental part of this is very hard to explain. It really affected me in ways that I cannot describe. I just never really thought that dying from cancer would be something that I would be looking at. I see things a little differently now, and it's hard to explain.
I'm grateful. I'm grateful that I'm healthy, and I'm grateful for my family and friends. I want to live for a very long time. When I read or hear of someone that has cancer, and is going through chemo or radiation, it makes me very sad. (more so than before) - I usually have to fight back tears.
I try not to worry about whether its going to come back - worry just causes stress. I'm just trying to exercise, live healthy, and be happy!