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Patient Stories

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Barbara Muchow

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Barbara Muchow

Barbara Muchow is a kidney cancer survivor. She shares a beautiful story of friendship and loss and how it led to an early diagnosis of kidney cancer.

To tell my cancer story I have to tell about my best friend of 40 years, Dorothy. Actually, Dorothy, her husband Bob and my husband and I were all best friends. We first met in Illinois as young parents and ended up in Nevada as retirees. Dorothy and Bob were genuine people, never put on airs, and very generous.

I recall a time when Dorothy, our spouses, and I were preparing to take a cruise to Mexico to celebrate our wedding anniversaries. On the cruise one evening there was a captain’s dinner which we were going to attend and needed to dress up for. Finding an outfit for the dinner was turning into a disaster for me as I could not find shoes that matched my outfit. I was ready to buy a new dress and spend lots of money when Dorothy came over with a shoebox. Inside was a pair of gold colored sandals and a clutch purse that went perfectly with a dress I already owned. Dorothy wished me happy birthday and said this was her gift to me for my next birthday. My heart was touched that she had gone to the trouble to find shoes and a purse just for me.

Another memory I hold dear is when we were going to celebrate her birthday together by going to see a famous singer in Chicago. I had purchased tickets and we two girls from farm country were going to make the 60 mile drive downtown without the guys. After the show we went backstage to the singer’s dressing room where we got autographs and a picture. I cherish these memories of my best friend.

This past year Dorothy started not feeling well, lost weight without trying, and was tired all the time. Tests confirmed that she had heart disease. She was hospitalized, discharged, and passed away at her home before she could follow up with her primary care physician.

Losing Dorothy was completely unexpected to me. Her family wanted and needed her. I spoke at the reception, sharing stories from our past. I finished by telling everyone that I loved Dorothy and how much I would miss her.

Before Dorothy died I had not been feeling well, having frequent chills, fever, and abdominal pain. The night of her reception I could not fall asleep as the pain in my lower abdomen had become severe. I was uncomfortable all over and had a severe headache. I finally asked my husband to take me to the emergency room. A few hours later, after a CT scan, I was told there was a tumor on my left kidney. My primary care physician contacted me and informed me that the tumor was kidney cancer and would have to be removed surgically. I was stunned—I had cancer!

For forty years I had always called Dorothy to talk about anything close to my heart. I had received some crushing news and I needed her. But Dorothy was gone; or was she? Although I had not been feeling my best for a while, I never felt poorly enough to see a doctor. I’m sure the distress of saying good bye to my best friend pushed my physical symptoms to the point of needing medical care that night. A CT scan found that I had a small cancerous tumor. If I had not gone to the emergency room, who knows how big the tumor might have grown before it was found? I felt like I had been given a gift. I will always believe that from afar Dorothy played a part in making sure I went to the emergency room. My best friend knew my birthday was in nine days and she always gave me the best birthday gifts.

Men, women and children of all races get kidney cancer. There are people that have fought this disease and live years longer than predicted because of new drugs and their will to survive. They live with unspeakable physical side effects caused by these new drugs for the chance to see their tumors shrink. They also want to see their children graduate or see their children and grandchildren grow up. These patient’s pioneering efforts provide data to make more effective therapies to fight kidney cancer in the future.

The powerful force of my long friendship with Dorothy led to an early diagnosis of kidney cancer and no evidence of disease after surgery; no more cancer hopefully forever. Every person that has cancer wishes their cancer could have been found in its early stage. Many scientists are working on making this happen and they desperately need funding. Consider making a contribution towards kidney cancer research through KCCure. Thank You.

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