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Patient Stories

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Audrey’s Story

For  two years I struggled with severe urinary tract symptoms. It was August 2017 when I felt a strange pull and then excruciating bladder pain that debilitated everything I did. Then came the chronic fevers, fatigue, vomiting, and unrelenting back pain. My symptoms were constantly attributed to another serious illness I was fighting.

July 2018 I woke up with severe abdominal pain, red gritty eyes, and a fever. Walk in told me it was a kidney infection.  I took antibiotics and got marginally better.

January 8th I woke up again with gritty eyes, high fever, vomiting, and flank pain. By January 10th my friend was taking me to the ER because I was incoherent.

I had a doctor lecture me for letting myself get so sick, they told me how I should advocate for my care. This tone took an immediate change when I pointed out that I had presented over 17 times with the same symptoms.

My blood was drawn but it showed nothing conclusive. When the doctor palpated my stomach on my right side I was screaming in pain . My blood pressure was 177 over 119 with a resting pulse of 123. They ordered imaging to look for appendicitis. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what would happen next.

The Doctor came in to tell me I had a mass on my kidney and that I also had urosepsis. The mass was pushing on my adrenals and they could not identify what it was. I was admitted and sent for an MRI.

The local urologist stated they did not know what the mass was and offered watchful waiting, a biopsy, or cryoablation in Calgary. I opted for ablation and my referral was sent as non urgent. Meanwhile I was released from the hospital still sick.

Fortunately my Calgary internist for my other disease was able to see me. Thankfully my internist is a nephrologist by trade, he looked at my scans and admitted me. I was treated for sepsis and the urology team and internists consulted on my file. All agreed it was malignancy and the mass needed to come out. I was also told that disease involvement was in both kidneys.

I was released, this time in stable condition. The surgeon who received my referral as non urgent reviewed it and immediately sent my file to an oncologist. Due to it being cancer, biopsy and ablation were off the table. I would lose part or all of my kidney.

At the time of this writing it’s March 11th 2019 and I lost half of my right kidney on February 27th. It was discovered that my kidney has congenital abnormalities, namely extra blood vessels and arteries…a lot of them. It’s an utter miracle of Science that any of that kidney was saved.

The oncologist stated that my left kidney mass will be monitored closely and I will be sent for genetic testing as it is almost unprecedented to have disease in both kidneys at my age. In six weeks I will know the pathology of my cancer and what needs to happen next.

This will be lifelong. Kidney disease is progressive. My future may include dialysis and transplant. But today my doctor gave me the gift of time. And that’s really all any of us can ask for.

KCCure thanks Audrey for sharing her cancer journey to date.

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