My cancer story started June 2nd, 2018. I was 47 years old at the time and a busy full-time working wife and mother of 4 children ages from 13-30 living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
On May 29th, 2018, I went into my local Urgent Care as I had been struggling with a reoccurring bladder infection and some constipation. The urgent care physician ran the appropriate tests, and everything came back normal. She provided me with at home remedies to try and sent me on my way, with instructions to come back if I still wasn’t feeling well.
Later in the week, I was telling my husband that I just feel terrible and was debating if I should go back to the doctor. Just as I said that, my phone rang, and it was the urgent care physician I had seen earlier in the week, doing a follow up on my condition. She asked how I was feeling, and I told her that I still was not doing well. She insisted that I come directly to urgent care and get a CT Scan done and everything would be ready for me when I arrived. I went alone and had the scan done.
About an hour later, she returned to the room looking grim. She explained that I had a very large tumor on my left kidney. The tumor had completely taken over my left adrenal gland, invaded my renal vein, and was resting on my spleen; grade 4 measuring at 9.8 cm.
To this day, I’m still so amazed that an urgent care doctor discovered my tumor and took the time to follow up with me! She told me later she just remembered me from earlier in the week and I was on her mind. Divine intervention! The next week, my left kidney and tumor were both removed, and I was on my way for more testing and to start treatment.
The past two years have been a roller coaster with so many ups and downs, but I’m finally on a treatment plan that is working. At one point in my journey, I had metastases in four separate organs, and now after only one year on immunotherapy I am happy to report that I only have a few small spots in my lungs and a small area on my spleen. I will continue to receive Immunotherapy (Opdivo) for at least another year if it continues to work for my body.
My advice to anyone who is just starting on this journey with metastatic kidney cancer is to find a doctor (both an oncologist and a primary care doctor) who you can build a relationship with, get second opinions, ask about clinical trials, and arm yourself with as much factual knowledge as you can. The best place to start is KCCure – Kidney Cancer Research Alliance.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story, I can honestly say I’m not done fighting!