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Length of surgery, stress!

Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2017

Hey everyone - I'm still processing this whole thing (I have a 4cm on left kidney, back side that was found a few weeks ago by accident while looking for a reason for stomach pains).

But today I got my surgery date of Sept 26. My surgeon was playing it like it's not a big deal, no worries, it's the smallest that we usually see, etc - almost felt like he was telling me "don't overreact,you crazy woman". And all I could think was "AM I overreacting?" Cause I've been a little stressed this past week, and everything he kept saying made me want to hit him (I know, that is not the best way to start your relationship with your surgeon, but i think it might of made me feel good)

I'm primarily pretty calm, but then i can suddenly freak out and start to cry, and want my brother here for the surgery, then wanting EVERYONE here for the surgery, then wanting NOBODY here for the surgery. I am all over the place and exhausted. And then I am perfectly calm again and wonder what the hell triggered me so badly? UGH, I feel crazy, and feel like I am overreacting. Then i think "cancer" and it starts all over again.

Just venting on those first paragraphs, but now i have a specific question - how long did your surgery take? They said mine will be 4 hours, which seems long- my hip replacement surgeries weren't that long!

Thanks all,

the crazy red head


icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3354
Joined: Jan 2010

Crazy red head.

We all felt like sh-- when told we had kidney cancer and the first thing they want to do is yank out your kidney. That was me 15 years ago. The first few dats after are not fun, but than everyday gets better with maybe a bad day in between. You will ne back to a slow normal in 4 to 8 weeks. How long does the surgery take? Four hours is a good guess.




ps: At 4 cm your prognosis is excellent

Ree_Maryland's picture
Posts: 161
Joined: May 2014

I had the same feelings, up and down emotions . you will be ok . like what iceman says .Found out I had right kidney cancer March 4th 2014, had surgery on the 21ST OF April . feel pretty good now. hoping ALL goes well with you.

Bay Area Guy's picture
Bay Area Guy
Posts: 519
Joined: Jun 2016

The emotions you describe are perfectly normal.  I was diagnosed in late 2013, but my urological oncologist didn't recommend getting it out until April, 2016.  Mie was a baby at 1.5cm when diagnosed and 1.7 when it was removed.  I could have chosen to have it taken out when it was diagnosed, but the doctor made a very good case as to why I should wait, so I did.  As I said, it was April, 2017 when it was decided the take the little bugger out, but the earliest surgrey date was late June, so I had almost two months to fret about it.  For better or worse, I had two previous experiences with surgery, both abdominal, so I had an idea of what to expect leading up to the actual surgery  I won't insult your intelligence by saying the surgery is easy, but it won't be as bad as your imagination will make it out to be.

In terms of your specific question"  I had a robotic assisted laparoscopic partial.  I am told the actual procedure took a llittl over three hours.  There was about an hour of prep time and, of course, there's time in the recovery room.  I'm told my surgery started at 3PM (God, I hated the fact that it was such a late time!) and I am told I was back in my room with the nurses getting me out of bed to walk at about 9PM.

Positive_Mental_Attitude's picture
Posts: 454
Joined: Jul 2014

Your reactions are perfectly normal.  I am not ashamed to admit that I was a blubbering mess a week or two before the surgery.  Fear of the unknown.  I had not yet found this forum, and read a lot of conflicting (and wrong) stuff on the internet.  Three years later, I look back and laugh at myself, but I empathize with someone who is scared and confused.

Trust your doctor, hospital and the process.  There are lots of people here who have had non-eventful partial and radical nephrectomies. 

Good luck!

Retcenturion's picture
Posts: 240
Joined: Mar 2017

I had full Nephrotomhy in April. Surgery was suppose to be at 1 pm but Dr was delayed... that extra time was awful. I went in about 2pm and was with my wife about 9pm in recovery. You won't remember a thing, and at that point I was in no pain. During the wait for surgery read past posts her you will find a lot of answers to the questions you will have Get as much help for post  o p  ...the first week is bad but nowhere as bad as your imagination will make it. It is really hard but try and relax now..if you have any questions ask here there are many great people that can help. Positive thoughts your way.

rhominator's picture
Posts: 233
Joined: Nov 2015

My surgery was 5 1/2 hours.  'Went by like a blink of the eye.  However, for my wife, the extra hour and half was pretty stressful. Thankfully, we had friends from church there with her. My advice is to ensure you have support for your loved ones in place while you're in surgery.

hardo718's picture
Posts: 853
Joined: Jan 2016

It's a wild roller coaster ride of emotions.  Weeeee!! (throw your hands in the air)  I would think your surgeon would be quite familiar with what you're experiencing at this point, it's a lot to digest.  And it'll take some time.....well, after surgery and pathology report comes in.  My surgeon moved to Colorado about a year or 2 after doing mine, not sure what part, maybe Denver.  He was awesome!!  Dr. Mark Fisher.  Can't speak highly enough of him.

Best wishes,


P.S.  My daughter & husband tells me my surgery took the better part of the day.  I did my part.....slept.... and I have no recollection......thank God!  Laughing

APny's picture
Posts: 1998
Joined: Mar 2014

I was the same way. Up and down, crazy then calm. I never had surgery before and was only in hospital once for fainting and hitting my head. So I was a total novice. The word "cancer" is really crazy making and hard to wrap your head around. So give yourself a break; you're not over-reacting. My surgery was a bit shorter. I think under 3 hours according my husband. It all depends on where it is located so you really can't go by others' time frame. All the best to you!

Jan4you's picture
Posts: 1327
Joined: Oct 2013

Aww sorry for what you are going through. Of course YOU are concerned as this is happening to YOU, not the surgeon. They want to know if its a challenge to them. My tumor was a little over   4cm but had to have a nephrectomry vs a partial due to being near a blood supply. I actually viewed a video online so knew what to expect. I like to know everything.

NO ONE likes the unknnown. It takes a real test of our FAITH to not let anxiety and worry ruin our moments of LIVING TODAY!

I use the Serenity prayer: (God) Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I can, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference. I say it over and over, and a calmness comes over me...

So I am sending YOU calming, serene moods to keep you going. Its in the hands of your surgeon now. LET IT GO, best you can.

Have you ever had any surgeries before?

Hugs, Jan

Jan4you's picture
Posts: 1327
Joined: Oct 2013

OH just saw your main question. My surgery was consider normal at little over 3 hours. It was a nephrectomy.

Remember they are working with a lot of blood vessels. I am guessing you are having a robatic, laperscopic surgery?


Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2017

I've had 3 surgeries, and one of them was adbominal so I know what to expect in the pain category. And I am having the Lap surgery, and the surgeon said he would only go to open as a last resort - yeah!

I guess it's lucky I've been through surgeries before? haha, at least I know what to expect, and this time I won't have any of my restrictions I had with my hip replacements - for that, I am thankful!

Thank you for the calming prayer, it does help :-)

Posts: 112
Joined: May 2017

My husband's surgery for his total nephrectomy started at 7:30 a.m. and the surgeon was out talking to me at 10:15 a.m. saying all went well.  He was in recovery for two hours.  I would imagine that a partial would take a little longer.

JerzyGrrl's picture
Posts: 761
Joined: Jun 2016

Where your kidney mass is and what route they have to follow to get to it makes a big difference. Since your user name mentions Colorado...

For some of us, it's like taking the interstate from the airport in Denver eastbound to west Kansas on a lovely spring day: Zip! For others, it's like trying to maneuver through downtown Denver with black ice and a bus broken down on the side street by the Main Library (and that's where you're needing to go): It's slower going.

The good news is, in either case you'll end up getting there safely. 

JerzyGrrl's picture
Posts: 761
Joined: Jun 2016

Unlike your hip replacement surgery they're not big on using the same kind of power tools. Kidneys are "the consistency of medium tofu" (quote from my surgeon). So they're working away, still diligently, but in a rather gentle mode and with different sorts of equipment. 

Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2017

Sounds like you know Colorado, and Denver! I live in Colo Spgs now, but lived in Denver for over 10 years - loved it there, but decided to come back to my home town and plan to stay.

Only one thing -  the airport is already in Kansas :-) With the crazy stallion that scares the crap out of everyone

Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2017

I have spent the past few days trying not to think about this, but today was back to reality, and for me to come here and thank you all for your words of wisdom and kindness. It helped me calm down considerably, and then I was able to run everything I was feeling by my counselor (who said you all were amazing wonderful and wise, and was so glad I had found this group).

I hope that someday I will be in the position to help others - but for now, thank you. And thank you in the future for any other freak outs I might have :-)




Steve.Adam's picture
Posts: 463
Joined: Oct 2016

Mine was 4cm on the right kidney, which was entirely removed. I certainly had my emotional moments!

Some people on this forum are very loving and caring, maybe everyone. Some have great advice. Kidney cancer is very survivable for many of us so the most helpful thing to know is that someone in exactly our situation is now cancer free and living normally. I have shed some tears for those for whom this is not true.

But your situation sounds much like mine so I'll tell you that my recovery has gone perfectly. It is now 6 months since my surgery and everything is completely back to normal with only some interesting scars to remind me of the experience.

Actually, I don't even feel like a cancer survivor. I could easily forget that it ever happened.  


Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2017

And I don't feel like I have cancer - I almost feel like a fake or a fraud cause I just feel like normal me (except for the emotional melt downs, haha)

I have friends who have gone through absolute hell in their fight against breast cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, etc - it makes it real. And makes me grateful that mine is caught early and has great prognosis - very grateful.


medic1971's picture
Posts: 205
Joined: Sep 2015

We’ve all been there.  You drop the C-bomb and your world will change for a while…  Don’t beat yourself up and continue to go to counseling and if needed talk to your doctor about something to help with anxiety.  No need to suffer needlessly.  It took me about two years to get back to “normal” mentally speaking.  Don’t get me wrong there is a tremendous weight that is lifted once you get that little sucker out of you, but your still not quite the same.  I waited about 4 months between finding my two tumors and when I had surgery, plus I had to wait another 10 days after that to find out the pathology report.  Something odd happened when the doctor called me to let me know I did in fact have cancer and that was a feeling of relief.  I finally would stop worrying if I had cancer.  I was finally able to lay down that burden that I had been carrying with me for 4 months and to be honest it felt good to know the answer.  I didn’t like the answer, but I was grateful to have one.

Don’t compare your cancer to someone else’s.  You have every right to be sad, mad, scared, and even in denial.  I know I was there, hell we all were.  I remember one time in particular when I was driving in the car thinking about my little 6 year old daughter and the Conway Twitty song “That’s My Job” came on the radio and I freaking lost it.  I had to pull over into a Wal-Mart parking lot and cry my eyes out, but I got through it and you will to.

Okay enough with the touchy feely things let’s get down the brass tacks of what you are about to go through…

I assume that at only 4cm you will have a partial nephrectomy.  Those procedures can take a little longer especially if they are doing with the robot.  I had two tumors removed from my right kidney.  One was 2.2cm at the south pole and the other one was only 0.8cm and it was located on the north pole.  Surgery lasted about 4 hours, I spent two days in the hospital, 4 days in a hotel room, and then flew back home by myself.  I got to keep more than 95% of my kidney to boot.  All of my scans have been clear so far.  The fact that I had two tumors does put it at a slightly higher risk for a local reoccurrence so if it happens I deal with it and I don’t worry about it.  I went through it once I can do it again. 

The surgery itself wasn’t horrible, I mean don’t get me wrong it wasn’t a walk in the park either.  They had me up and walking about 4 hours after surgery so it’s not just laying around resting.  You are up and walking, more and more each day.  Getting in and out of bed sucks, but once you are up it’s not too bad same for laying down.  I sleep on my side and stomach so sleeping on my back was a bit difficult to get used to.  The pain was well controlled for me.  I was on strong pain meds around the clock for the first three to four days and then I only used the strong stuff at night to help me sleep.

I am going to link you a couple of videos that I hope will help you.  The first one is a medical one from a urologist at MD Anderson that talks about the Evaluation and Management of Localized Renal Cell Carcinoma.


This second video I found recently right before my last follow-up appointment and it helped to give me motivation not to be afraid.  It talks about fear


Good luck and hang in there.  Please post any and all questions you have.  We are here to help you.


hardo718's picture
Posts: 853
Joined: Jan 2016

Although I've only watched the second one......SO powerful!   That should be played on tv over & over & over again.  We all need to hear that message, for many different reasons.


P.S.  And there's a very special place in my heart for our men & women in uniform.  Currently my grandson serves in Korea, very close to the border between north & south.  We all feel like we're holding our breath since we was deployed there a couple of months ago.  Can we say FEAR?  All we can do is pray for his safe return. 

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