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Anyone familiar with the VA and RCC?

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

Hi all!

I posted for the first time about a week ago.  That was right after my Primary Care Physician told me about a mass 3.7 X 4.7 X 4.0 cm on my right kidney!  He immediately requested a consult with Urology and I have been terrifically persistent pushing my own case for a rapid appointment.  It is at 1:00 today.  Thats all background!

Are any of you familiar with the quality of care and follow-up available through the Veteran's Administration?  I do not have any other options for health care at this moment and I need to know how aggressive I must be with them to get the best care possible.  I also wonder if they have the same access and motivation for the most current arsenal in what may be a fight for my life.  Medicare will kick in soon, but still, I'm not sure how all this works together. 

I'm a pretty tough old buzzard and I've fought back from lots of thing with restarts half a dozen times in my life, but it helps to know how the deck is stacked to craft my best defense! I can be tenacious!

A last thought, I am a still working adjunct college professor raising a grandaughter and I must keep working.  Given the worst case scenario on recovery simply from the likely operation, how long must I budget for in terms of being unable to work?

I'll be back later today with a report from this first meeting with my urologist.  I am so thankful for finding this site and for the wealth of information you all bring here. I have to admit, on the one hand it is very reassuring to know you are here, but sometimes what you say scares the hell out of me!


garym's picture
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009


Your mass is relatively small and the odds of a clear cell, stage, 1 grade 1, clear margins pathology report are in your favor with a likely result that surgery is the only treatment you will ever need.  I have no personal experience with the VA, but I have read stories here from people that felt they got excellent care, no reason to believe otherwise in your case.  Recovery time will depend on things like open vs. lap procedure and full nephrectomy vs. partial and while the tough old buzzard scale may be different, most get back to desk jobs in 3 to 6 weeks.

Hope this helps,


MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I really appreciate your confidence and your willingness to calm an "old buzzard's" anxieties!  Laughing

Posts: 50
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi, in regards to your inquiry about the VA, I am also VA patient - they have handled my whole dance with RCC from detection to post surgical follow up. My staging was much further along than yours but, I am happy to report that I felt they did - and are still doing - an excellent job. Being such a large government system, I would have expected a clunky, red tape filled mess. But it wasn't.

In my opinion the key is to have a good primary care team. They make the difference as they act as case managers making sure all that should get done, does get done. Stay in close contact with your primary care team, keep them well updated as things happen in the various speciality departments you will meet along the way and you'll be fine.

Best of luck to you.

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I am finding the same situation with my team.  I feel like I won the lottery with this team.  My primary care Doc is conscientious and personable. He doesn't mince words and I appreciate that!

I have likewise won the lottery with my urologist. She is a Distinguished Witherington Endowed Chair recipient and head of urology at the Medical College of Georgia.  My VA provider partners with MCG on nearly all their treatments.    My expectations were the same as yours until they found this.  They came up a long ways in my esteem since then.

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