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My Journey

david_w2
Posts: 4
Joined: May 2017

I will never forget March 13, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.  That's the exact time I received the call from my PCP telling me that they had found RCC on a routine CT scan.  When I heard the PCP's voice on the other end of the phone I knew something serious was up.  My PCP had never called me in all the years I have been seeing him.

I didn't panic.  I'm just not wired that way.  My first thought was simply to learn everything I could.  I feel that  information is power.  So after the call I immediately went online and started reading.  What I read made me feel better since it told me I could be cured depending on the circumstances.

The hardest part was telling my loved ones the news.  They started to freak out.  So, we sat down and I explained what I had learned online.  That calmed them down a bit.  Also, as part of the immediate family, we have two doctors.  After consulting with them we decided to put together the best team we could that included my PCP, them, the best oncologist, the best urologist, and the best surgeon we could find.  It took a few days.

A s soon as the oncologist saw the CT results a decision was made to immediately perform a radical nephrectomy using both robotic and laparoscopic instrumentation. The tumor was large (7cm x 7xm x 5cm).  First thing I did was go out and make a model of it using styrofoam.  I wanted to visualize what this thing looked like as close as I could.  That way it wasn't hiding. It was right there in front of me.

Tests were performed to make sure the cancer had not spread.  I had no obvious symptoms.  Tests were performed to see if the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, the bladder and the chest.  All of these came back negative.  I put that up as my first win.  Surgery was scheduled for May 2nd.

I'll never forget that morning.  It seemed surreal because everything seemed so very normal for me.  I wasn't in pain, I had no symptoms, I wasn't anything but myself.  That's what is so frightening about this cancer.  By the time you start exhibiting symptoms it's pretty bad.

The last thing I remember is going into the OR and the next thing I am in Recovery and then up to my room.  Since it was the left kidney I had three small 1" incisions and a larger 3 1/2" incision on my left side.  That's it.  My first day, out of total of 4, in the hospital I was pretty out of it.  My second day there and my doc was telling me to get out of bed.  It was really, really hard to try and do any sitting up, much less getting out of bed.  But, I did.  I walked around the room a bit and that was it.

By the third day we had stopped the Morphine drip and moved onto Oxycontine.  The thing is, when I took the Oxy it put me to sleep.  So we adjusted it a bit.  Enough to kill the pain but not enough to put me out.  Doc said more exercise so I started walking around the ward.  Finally on the fourth day I got out.

First thing I did was buy a cane.  I need it because the pain in my side made it hard to walk normally.  Being at home was hard at first.  Stairs were not that easy to go up and down.  Fortunately, the head portion of my bed can go up and down.   When I bought it years ago I never thought how grateful I would be to have it now.

So, here I am almost exactly four weeks out of surgery.  My progress has been steady.  I have had a few days where the pain has come back.  But overall everything is much, much better than the first week.  Then the third weeks was better than the second, And the fourth week better than the third.  I'm not complete but I would say I am at 75-85% of what I was.  I can bend over (but not touch my toes).  I can sleep on my surgery side.  I can pretty much wear my pants (without a tight belt).  I can drive.  One of the perks is having a temporary disabled card so I can park close to the stores.

The scariest part of this journey was not the surgery, or the recovery, or even the first day when I received the news.  The scariest day was on May 10th.  Eight days after surgery.  It was my meeting with the oncologist to learn the results of the pathology test that was done on the kidney they had removed.  The test results stated I had Stage 1, totally encapsulated within the kidney, much smaller than previously thought, with no spreading beyond the kidney.  I had won.

 

 

DreamOnDeb
Posts: 112
Joined: May 2017

Thank you for your story, David.  My husband will be going through this in the near future.  He doesn't have a date yet.  This makes me feel better.  His is a 2 cm tumor on his right kidney (an incidental finding).

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