I was diagnosed in February of 2017. I had a radical right nephrectomy. I was told it was stage 1 with clear margins, no further treatment necessary.
In June of 2018, I went to the doctor for lower back pain. They found a large tumor on my right iliac. After a bone biopsy, I was told I had stage 4 RCC with metastasis to my iliac, lungs, left adrenal, sternum, and a few other spots that I can’t even remember at this point. I was referred to an oncologist who told us there was no cure, but there were ways to fight it. He gave us the options and explained the risks that each option carried.
He felt like immunotherapy was a great option for me, but also recommended I go to MDAnderson for a second opinion. Immunotherapy was the route I chose after deciding to be treated through MDAnderson. I was able to endure the four combo infusions of opdivo/yervoy, but developed severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during my maintenance treatments.
I had to stop my maintenance and although it was terrifying to think of stopping the treatment that had saved my life, I had no choice. I have had no treatments since December of 2018, but each area of cancer has either disappeared or remains stable since then.
One thing I’ll never forget is when my doctor looked me in the eye and told me that he’d leave no stone unturned in trying to help me fight this.
The debilitating pain of the RA was the most challenging thing I’ve come up against so far. My doc referred me to an RA specialist at MDAnderson, and he was able to treat me. The medicine that he was convinced would relieve my pain was $3k a month, but his office helped us navigate assistance with the cost. I’m so thankful for that because the pain was unbearable at first. I was totally incapacitated with it.
My advice to anyone on this road is DON’T GIVE UP, NEVER LOSE HOPE. Do all you can, get at least one other opinion, and don’t settle on a doctor who you’re not comfortable with.
Knowing that my wife and family was with me every step of the way, and that my medical team was so skilled and knowledgeable, and they were doing everything possible for me made all the difference!