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Patient Stories

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Chuck’s Story

Chuck's story

My journey started in June 2019. I was 47 at the time, turning 48 in September. I went out for a run with my wife and came back and urinated what looked like pasta sauce! Needless to say, after a bladder scope and CT scan it was determined that I had a 10 cm x 8 cm x 9 cm mass on my left kidney. Scans also showed a horseshoe kidney as a complicating factor. 

There were nodules on my lungs at this time but they were very small and we were just going to monitor those. I had a radical laparoscopic nephrectomy to remove the left kidney as well as several lymph nodes in August 2019. 

At the end of September my stomach was still extremely swollen and I was diagnosed with chylous asciites. They inserted a drain in my abdomen and removed 5 L of fluid. I went on a special diet for another few months and the leak in my lymphatic system healed on its own. We thought I was done at that point! 

With my follow-up scans we noticed more nodules in my lungs as well as growth in the existing nodules. Too many to do any kind of wedge resection (lung surgery) but we did remove the largest which was just about 1.2 cm via VATS for a biopsy which confirmed clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC), October 2020. 

I am currently undergoing immunotherapy through Dana Farber at one of their substations 20 minutes north of Boston, thankfully only a mile from my house. My first scan into immunotherapy did not show any shrinking of the mets but my oncologist said that isn’t out of the ordinary only a month and a half into treatment. 

Next scan is the beginning of April. I still feel absolutely fine and continue to work as a police officer full-time and musician part time in the air national guard. I don’t think I would be where I am today without the amazing at-home care I had during my surgery recovery if it wasn’t for my awesome wife Jennifer. Also, I am happy I didn’t waste 20 years of accrued sick time at work.

Biggest piece of advice is to not beat yourself up and wonder why or how this happened. Always look up and look forward knowing that there are great treatments, even if it’s just to maintain where you are. And even if something isn’t working right now, that may change in a month with the latest trials and approvals. Lastly, this may not be suitable for everyone, but my faith in God has greatly helped me through this as well.

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