New Member - Intro and a Big Question - Searching for the Meaning of Life


Hello. I'm new to the forum. I'm a 47 year old female who was diagnosed with renal cancer October 23, 2018 when an incidental finding was made on an MRI I had for a back injury. Thank goodness for that. I spent my birthday getting a CT scan of my abdomen and a chest X-ray done. Luckily no mets or anything of concern aside from the tumour in my right kidney. I felt great so I worked up until 2 nights before my surgery. I had my right kidney removed January 3, 2020. Recovery has been going better than I expected. I am awaiting the pathology report when I see my urologist February 3, 2020. I still have swollen lymph nodes in my neck and groin (they are small but popped up in mid-November but my urologist said not to worry about them because my other tests and bloodwork were clear) that my family doctor is now investigating. More blood tests to rule out anything that can cause lymph node swelling, a repeat chest xray and I'm awaiting 3 ultrasounds on February 3. Before I ate well, exercised regularly, was otherwise healthy and was not a smoker or a drinker. I worked hard as an RN and led what I thought was a reasonably fulfilling life. As I am sure is the case with most if not all of us on this page, this is not how I ever expected my life to go and not where I ever expected to be.

I've spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting on my life before my diagnosis, through my healing process so far, and where I go from here. The big questions in life. I know I am a changed person because of this experience. I appreciate waking up every day. I appreciate feeling the wind in my face when I am driving with my car window rolled down an inch even in the middle of winter. I am grateful for friends and family who have been here for me. Right now I can't lift more than 10lbs - I even miss shoveling snow and vacuuming. I regret not travelling more before and not going parachuting, and other things on my bucket list which I now feel would be too risky with only one kidney. 

I feel like I have been given a second chance at life and to change to become the best person and the best human being I can be. I've been reading books, articles, and watching videos from people like Jay Shetty, Vishen Lakhiani, Depak Chopra and a Budhist monk whose name I can't recall at the moment.

Is there anyone else who has or is undergoing a search for more meaning and living up to their full potential as an individual and a member of humankind? What has your search been like? What has helped you? Who are your inspirations? What books have you read? What actions have you undertaken? How has your experience with cancer changed you for the better?

Sorry for the long post. And thanks in advance for any help.


  • AliceB1950
    AliceB1950 Member Posts: 240 Member
    My advice is to not get too

    My advice is to not get too bogged down with trying to figure out any "meaning," whatever that might be.  Most people run into some sort of glitch during their lives.  Some are medical, some psychological, some with family circumstances or relationship messes.  Cancer is just one of many possible bumps in the road.  Do you know your stage and grade yet?  For many of us, it's a one-and-done situation with the slight inconvenience of regular CTs going forward, and I personally think of scans as routine maintenance, not something to dread.  Even those with a higher stage who need further treatment mostly go back to a semblance of normalcy.

  • donna_lee
    donna_lee Member Posts: 1,042 Member
    I'm sure your life has been a roller coaster.

    Maybe the little ones for those under 4.5 feet.  Now you are on the big one that has steep ups and down.  Part of that is life, part is being older, part is cancer.  My prognosis had been grim to fatal when Dx'd-I might live 5-7 months as far advanced as it was, unless the surgeons could do "something."  The surgeons did lots of somethings, so click on my user name to find out what and when.

    Cancer probably will change you, mostly for the better.  You will be more in tune with the little things in your body.  The followup scans and labs will reveal other "stuff" in your body- recurring cancerous nodes in the abdomen, like enlarging thyroid nodes, osteoopenia in my hips, a chronic low RBC/WBC count, and even call backs on mammograms.  It can be scary.

    I held my newborn granddaughter 2 months after surgery and whispered that she couldn't get married until she was 50 and I'd be there.  Logistically, not a feasible comment.  But she plays a mean game of school and club volleyball (at 13, in a U16 club) and was in state Honor Band earlier this month. Both children and all 4 grands have been along for the fun parts.

    I have no "bucket list"-those can be expensive and cause a sense of failure if you don't do everything on the list.  Just try to continue living your life the best your physical and emotional state can do at the time...I'm just happy to be on a smaller roller coaster, and still be here.

    Hugs to you,


  • icemantoo
    icemantoo Member Posts: 3,361 Member

    rECOVERY TAKES AWHIKLE. mINE WAS IN 8.1.02. You've got probably 40m years on the spare.






  • annie4145
    annie4145 Member Posts: 218 Member
    edited February 2020 #5
    I feel like you do.  I worked

    I feel like you do.  I worked too hard before dx, and I still do, but I have cut back a  bit.  I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, and how I can do it better.  Since I was diagnosed in July 2018, I have spent a little more time traveling.  I am also trying to be a better wife and mom to my two boys.  I am still working on my bucket list, because I haven't developed it yet.  At age 52 , dx'd with stage III cancer (different type than kidney), it was my first brush with my own mortality.  My grandma lived till 88, and my parents are both going strong in their 70's, and I really didn't expect it. 

  • jeffman
    jeffman Member Posts: 46 Member
    I survived prostate cancer in

    I survived prostate cancer in 2017 and that led to a bit of soul searching. Then I got so caught up in the recovery that that was all I thought of. Just 3 1/2 weeks ago I had a partial nephrectomy and recovery is going well. I try not to read a lot into things. Right now I go to sleep every night looking forward to the next day. Even if I am my usual snarky self when I get up. I don't think my family and friends (or me) would want it any other way.

  • a_oaklee
    a_oaklee Member Posts: 566 Member
    Hi Connie

    Hi Connie.  I just wanted to welcome you to CSN and say that I appreciate the topic you posted.  I hope alot of people respond because i find it very interesting.  Im the caregiver spouse, and I realize your topic is not directed to the loved ones, even though we are greatly affected too.   I wish you good health, and that you find meaning, purpose and joy.

  • eug91
    eug91 Member Posts: 471 Member
    welcome Connie-

    Interesting topic. Probably too vast to cover in a message board post, but I will say post-nephrectomy (or as I call it Eug 2.0), I've felt hyper-sensitive about my family, my faith, my life and found meaning in them. All the good things feel even better than before. 

    Though I'm curious about what you said about regretting traveling and parachuting. You're only a month removed from your neph, so you're still on the road to recovery. But for me, four months after my neph I was playing ice hockey again (my doctor said it was fine, but to make my wife happy I wear added kidney protection now). Six months after my neph I took a family vacation through three countries. See how you feel in a few months and check with your doctor, but I wouldn't automatically resign yourself to being limited. Life is for living - go for it!

    Fingers crossed for your appointment today!