Now I feel called to spread awareness and learn as much as I can about this disease, and to spend everyday really living because of what I went through.
My name is Brianna Rose and I’m 25 years old. I went to the hospital in January of 2018 for pneumonia. I had just married the love of my life in December. My husband Jacob, and I had been together for six years and finally decided it was time to tie the knot. Shortly after we were married we decided to go on our honeymoon in February but I had fallen sick and was coughing so I went to the hospital. They gave me a CT scan for my pneumonia and noticed a 3.5 cm mass on top of my left kidney. I was told to follow up with my doctor in six weeks and that it was likely a kidney infection.
So In 6 weeks my husband and I went to the doctors office where they scheduled an ultrasound and an MRI to make sure it was just an infection. The ultrasound showed the mass still there and not decreasing in size so the doctor wanted an MRI to look at the mass more closely. I was called into the office 24 hours later with my husband. I felt a sense of dread. I was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma on June 20th of 2018. I had no idea what to do or think and we left the doctors office feeling stunned. My birthday had just passed on June 15th. I was 25 and I didn’t know how to deal with this news. My life had just begun. I hadn’t been able to finish college or have children yet and my husband and I were newly married. This diagnosis suddenly affected everything I did or thought about. I did what anyone in this situation does. At first all I could think to do was cry and break the news to my family. After the initial shock wore off I threw myself into research about this disease.
What they don’t tell you is this disease typically effects men in their late 50’s and that it was more likely someone over 40-50 would have this problem, but I was a 25 year old woman! I had no family history of kidney cancer so how could this be me? I was scheduled to see a urologist the following month and they told me they wanted another CT scan to check into the location of my mass and to confirm it was cancer since I was so young. I had the CT and saw the urologist 2 weeks later. My urologist told me I had cancer for sure and the mass was pressing against my adrenal gland. I would have to have a robotic partial nephrectomy to get the tumor out and check for any spreading. Surgery was scheduled for September 19th of 2018. I finally felt like something was being done. I had never had a major surgery in my life and have been dealing with anxiety and clinical depression since 2011-2012 so the weeks leading up to surgery were very trying weeks. I often didn’t let on how nervous I truly was.
The day came, I was prepped for surgery and things seemed to be happening so quickly. Honestly that entire day was a blur to me. My family came out and supported me and have been my driving force of hope through all this! The surgery went well but I had some complications with the breathing tube so I had to spend the next two days on a ventilator, sedated and in the ICU. I finally was woken up on Friday Sept 21st and felt a sense of relief that this was finally out of my body and I could see my husband and family again. My entire family had been so worried and they supported me the entire time, my husband never left my bedside. I felt horrible physically but mentally I felt a lot better. I was discharged on Sept 22nd 2018. All I wanted to do the entire hospital stay was eat at I-HOP so my husband helped me eat and shower and recover for two weeks until I finally was able to move around a bit more.
The first week of October I finally got to go back to my urologist for a follow up visit and he said everything looked good and he believed they got all the cancer. He had me get a CT scan and a chest x ray with some labs and I was officially diagnosed NED (no evidence of disease)! Pathology results showed that I had Stage 1 Grade 3 Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma (T1b3 CCRCC). Not a lot of people my age have to deal with this disease and I felt alone a lot in the community because everyone was 30 and up that I spoke with. I still worry that it will return since I was only 25, but it has taught me to live more, laugh more and love more because I have a lot of life left to live.
I’m not done with this journey and I continue to struggle everyday but I was fortunate enough for them to catch it early and by accident. For the younger patients of this disease I just want you to know you aren’t alone and listen to your bodies. Now I feel called to spread awareness and learn as much as I can about this disease, and to spend everyday really living because of what I went through.
Just know you aren’t alone, there is help and support and lean on those who love you. It will effect your entire life but you don’t always have to let it effect you negatively.
I now spend every holiday around family and every day with my husband thankful that I still get to be here, so I hope this story can bring hope to someone like me going through this disease.
– Brianna Rose