Jan 21, 2010 - 10:02 pm
First time to a "survivor" discussion board. Everyone's experiences are so different. I had my kidney surgery for Stage 1 RCC on April 15, 2009, knowing that there was an 80% chance that the "inadvertent" find of a 2.5 cm growth was cancer. I came out of surgery with a 9" cut in my side (one of our toughest decisions was whether or not to go open cut), one less rib (they cut out #11 completely because they were having trouble getting to the part of the kidney that needed cutting...), and a slice of my right kidney gone. When the definitive biopsy report came in, the doctor came to my hospital bed with "good news, and bad news." The bad news: it was cancer. The good news: "you're cancer free!"
Well, time will tell whether or not I'm cancer free (one-year xrays coming up in a couple of months; MRI the next year), but at age 58, I've decided to treat this like a glorified appendectomy, and nothing more. Per doctor's orders, I took it easy for 6 weeks (actually had hernia surgery 3 weeks after the cancer surgery...figured if I couldn't be bouncing around, I should get another cut--3 inches this time--and let them heal concurrently), but on that 42nd day after cancer surgery (21 days after the hernia repair), I jumped back on my road bike and started riding again (I waited a few more weeks for the mountain bike...). In November (7 months after surgery) I rode in El Tour de Tucson--a 108 mile Saturday road bicycle trip around the perimiter of Tucson--which I finished almost 40 minutes faster (in just over 5 1/2 hours) than I did the year before, pre-diagnosis and pre-surgery.
I still have some discomfort in my side (my doctor keeps reminding me that it was MAJOR surgery), but it's more a feeling of tightness than anything too bad.
My bottom line: Move forward with life, making the most of it...and not letting these little "adventures" take away from a zest for life. I lost the weeks post-surgery; and I may lose more time in the future--so I need to make the most of whatever time I have. Family, friends, service, meaningful work and working for good health is what life is all about for me now. Not an epiphany by any means (because none of us know when "our time" is going to come), but a gentle reminder of mortality, and the joy of living.
I wish the same for all of my new survivor friends on this site!