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Radical Nephrectomy to be done 8.17.11 on my husband

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2011

My husband, 51yrs old, came into the ER 8.09.11 for severe side pain he had been having for 3 days w/o sleep or eating. They did a CT expecting to find kidney stones. Instead they found a 13cm tumor on the left kidney also blocking the renal vein. After seeing the Urologist and another set of tests (CT w/ contrast, biopsy, bone scan) they feel it hasn't spread anywhere else but admit some concern about the renal vein. He's surgery to have the nephrectomy and tumor removal is this Wednesday. I have been so unsure how to appropriately reassure him of the doctors assurance that they truly feel it has not spread and remain extremely optimistic. Right now it's causing so much pain on his kidney since the blood flow has been blocked off and he's under pain management then he has to endure medication for the nausea caused by the pain meds. I have to work (neseccary evil since we have to have insurance to pay for all of this) and take care of our 8 year old son.
His mood swings have been dramatic so I sent my son to stay with my mother. I'll admit, it's been hard taking the brunt of his anger over this but I understand why, I just don't know how to really respond to him to attempt to allow him some peace of mind. He's never been sick with anything more than a simple cold during our entire marriage (15yrs) so you can imagine the shock for both of us when we got the news of 'renal carcinoma'.
Also, what can we expect from recovery? How should I prepare my home and his bed, for his comfort and what kinds of food (he has no special dietary needs) should I have in my home for him following his return from the hospital.
Any information and advise would be very welcomed right now.

KatfromFlorida's picture
Posts: 66
Joined: Aug 2011

Dear Snow:
I'm so sorry for what your going through right now. I too was just diagnoised
with a kidney tumor on my right kidney, my surgery is next month.
I went to the doctor for the same issue, really bad stomach pain. I was certain
it had to be gallstones. Guess what? It wasn't.
Its been about 4 weeks since all this started for me and I am far from a pro on giving anyone
advice on this issue but I can tell you that you are in the right place.
What I can also tell you is that your husband needs to deal with this his own way.
The anger is probably just a reaction to the fear. Show him this website and then leave
him be for a little while. It helps to know that there are other people around who have
been in his shoes, dealing with it is a personal private issue for each one of us. After that
he can start to figure out how to talk about it with you and your family.
I'm getting a new recliner out of this... (wink) cause my friends here have stated that its tough
sleeping in your bed after the surgery and my boyfriend is the best ever.
I have two grown daughters , a 16 mth old grandbaby and a son in law living in my house
right now and they all want to help. I love them dearly and appreciate the concern and love
but I need to get my own mind around it first which I can clearly see takes time and patients.
Give yourself a break and try not to worry too much, live your life as normally as you can ,very smart to send your child to your moms right now too.
Your husband will let you know what you can do to help him when he needs to.
Much love and strength to you ....
My best

icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3331
Joined: Jan 2010

Dear Snow,

The Surgery is not fun. Most of us on this board have been through it. Mine was on 8.1.02. He is going to be in the hospital for a few days and than home unable to do much for at least a couple of weeks. In a few months he should gradually be back to normal activities. At 13 cm there are no promises or guarantees that the surgery will be the one and only treament, but there are stories on this board where that is the case.

Best wishes,


Jamie1.3cm's picture
Posts: 188
Joined: Jan 2011

My tumor was smaller, but it was also sitting on my renal artery. Surgery is tricky when it's sitting on the renal artery or vein, so they usually do an open surgery, rather than laproscopic. I'm 9 weeks post-op on Monday. I swam my laps in the pool tonight. In other words, he will recover. But it will take time. The first few weeks are the hardest, but then he may just suddenly start to feel better.

I, too, agree that his anger is his way of dealing with this right now. But it might also be related to the pain med itself, so you could ask the dr about that. Different meds affect people differently.

The day after surgery, they'll try to get him sitting up dangling over the side of the bed, and even beginning to walk around. Do this. It will hurt, but the more you move around, the quicker you heal. Set goals for each day: to the nurses station and back, to the end of the hall, etc. (Let him determine the goals.)

At home, have all the heavy lifting stuff already done. Have someone take care of the lawn for several weeks. I was only able to sleep in the bed for a couple hours before I had to move out to the more comfortable couch. Other people stayed in their recliners for weeks. He'll figure out what works for him. He'll sleep in segments of a few hours, then up for an hour or two, and then another sleeping segment. This is perfectly normal. Pain meds usually wipe out the appetite, so don't expect him to be very hungry.

Your doc will discuss any diet changes, mostly centered around avoiding high blood pressure by avoiding salt. The doc may also recommend that he not over-do it on protein. There really are no dramatic diet changes required, but the two of you may decide on diet changes. Just listen to the doc.

By the way, no guilt. Kidney cancer has no one big cause, nothing like ciggie smoking is to lung cancer, or anything like that. Sometimes bad things just happen.

Be sure that you also take care of YOU during this time. You need to sleep. You do not need to be up whenever he's up. Get your rest so that you can function at work and keep your insurance. Never lose your insurance or let it lapse! For the next several years he will have follow up ct scans to be sure it hasn't recurred.

The dr may describe the tumor as "encapsulated," and that's a good thing. The most common form of renal cell carcinoma is called "clear cell." Those are all words you're likely to hear.

Dont forget to breathe. Come around here any time you have a question or just need to vent. Remember, knowledge is power. The more you know and know what to expect, the more in control you are.

Cafewoman53's picture
Posts: 737
Joined: Jul 2010

I had my right kidney removed last january and it was a very painful recovery the first couple of days after that it was a slow but steady process to feeling normal, what suprised me was the tiredness. Your body has to adjust to having only one kidney so don't let him overdo it right away rest and exercise when the dr okays it.
It is a big shock especially if he was so healthy beforehand but the two of you will get thru it okay. Good Luck

lbinmsp's picture
Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2006

And, katfromflorida, sorry you're joining our little club too.

I won't sugar coat it - open, radical nephrectomy is tough but the worst is the first week to 10 days after the surgery. Pain meds and mild exercise help. Full recovery takes time and the thing I recommend is simply listen to your body - it will have gone through a major shock and it needs to adjust to what's happened. As you can see from this board, though, you're not alone! We're all here to listen when you need us.

Prayers for your husband - and you - and also for katfromflorida!

garym's picture
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Snow,

You have come to the right place. I'm sorry to hear about your husband, if the post-op pathology agrees with the Doc's belief that it has not spread his prognosis is very good and there are treatment options available if he needs them. There are others here that are far more knowledgeable than me, don't be afraid to ask questions.

I'm 60 and approaching 2 yrs. post-op, 5.1cm, lap. rad. left kidney, the words "you have cancer" scare you to the soul, anger is a very normal reaction. Kat advised that you introduce this site to your husband and that is very sound advice. I can tell you from experience that the people here helped me a great deal, being able to share with so many others that have been there and survived has a calming effect that lets you focus on the battle at hand.

I look forward to following your story and hopefully hearing from your husband soon, keep us posted.


KatfromFlorida's picture
Posts: 66
Joined: Aug 2011

thanks so much for your kind words. I have come here often to just read up on the process and the after surgery info. Still in a state of shock over it all but just taking it a day at a time.
Many thanks :)
My best

Vagusto's picture
Posts: 86
Joined: Aug 2011

First, sad to hear your Husband's diagnosis. Hearing you have cancer brings on many feelings.
Anger is certainly a part of it, wondering why. I would just listen to him, and to be honest it's hard to relate to
somebody that doesn't/ hasn't had cancer. That doesn't mean you don't care. I would ditto what others have mentioned. His recovery will be long
and not fun. Don't over eat, instead eat small meals. Should be able to eat whatever he can. Drink lots of water. Don't do any heavy lifting, and rest. Getting out of bed for about a week post surgery was difficult for me.
Take Care

DarrylPe's picture
Posts: 75
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi Snow sad to hear of your troubles . I had a radical Nephrectomy of my right kidney April of this year. It sounds like your husband found out about his condition with very little or no advance notice like many others on this site. I like many other here found out by accident and when your under the impression that your healthy hearing that you have cancer was proably a great shock for the both of you. Get informed the more you both know the better you'll feel. As for after surgery he'll be in alot of pain and lost of appetite is not uncommon so don't be alarmed by this. Sleeping may also be hard for him. I slept on my couch then my easy chair for a week before I could lie flat on my bed. Please keep us posted people here really understand.

Good luck to you too Kat. Hi from Orlando


KatfromFlorida's picture
Posts: 66
Joined: Aug 2011

Glad to hear your surgery went well for you. I currently live in the melbourne florida area so your not far from me. My surgery is coming up on Sept 13th and I am trying very hard right now not to think about it. Need to work up until the last possible moment so it helps to keep me from dwelling on stuff that I don't want to think about right now.
I read your previous posts and it sounded very much like I feel right now so I'm really happy your doing better.
Thanks for the luck and many prayers your way for a speedy and healthy recovery.
My best

DarrylPe's picture
Posts: 75
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi again Kat good to hear that your keeping busy . Trust in God . I remember before my surgery I tried to keep busy and not think about my surgery but in the wee hours of the night it was hard not to. That's when this site helped the most. So when your having a case of the what if's log in. I'll keep you in my prayers .

Stay strong

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2011

Dear Snow,

I am 42 and had a radical nephrectomy performed on my left kidney to remove an 8cm tumor on July 14th. I am now back at work and feel pretty good for the most part. I still experience minor pain occassionally but it's not serious enough to take the pain medication. Please be patient with your husband although I'm sure its hard. As the victim, you feel like you are going through it by yourself, but I had to understand that my wife was going through the pain and anxiety with me as well. I still can't believe that it happened to me, but it helps to know that I'm not alone and things will and do get better. As you prepare for the surgery tomorrow, please know that there are others out here that are praying for your entire family that not only will your husband have a successful surgery, but that your family will become strengthend.

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