Patient Stories

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Jeff Zdanowski

I had a goal to be in better shape and good health for my 50th birthday and was feeling very good about myself after receiving positive feedback from my annual physical. Unfortunately, this feeling didn’t last very long. Within the next month after my birthday, I had fallen a couple of times from blacking out after standing up too quickly. One morning I found myself not physically able to stand up from my work chair. After grudgingly agreeing with my wife and allowing her to call an ambulance, I found myself in the hospital with a hemoglobin under 7. Turns out, I had a tumor in my duodenum that was causing internal bleeding. No big deal I thought, let’s fix it and move on and get out of the hospital as soon as possible. After numerous tests, blood infusions and dozens of shots, we really d...

KCCure All-Star – Dr. Ulka Vaishampayan

Finding a kidney cancer specialist can be daunting. KCCure Patient Communities offer excellent opportunities to get recommendations from others. Learn more at KCCure.

Am I Cured?

This is a common question that pops up in our kidney cancer communities. And it’s not surprising. Seventy-five percent of kidney cancer patients will be diagnosed with localized disease. The majority of these patients are “cured” by surgery, however between 20 and 40 percent will experience a recurrence of their cancer. Following surgery, many patients struggle with how to describe this situation to friends and family.  Am I cured? Am I in remission?  We don’t really have a word to describe the reality of cancer patients who are free of disease but are living with Fear of Cancer Recurrence (FCR). Some patients who are free of disease following surgery for kidney cancer use terms like: NED – No Evidence of Disease: which means that there is no visible evidence of cancer in the body. However...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Jeanette Bartram

I feel led to share my dad’s story. I hope it will give hope and be helpful to others. On June 19th, 2019 my dad, who had recently retired, was in his garage moving things around when he tripped over a cord and landed on his right shoulder. My mom immediately took him to the emergency room where they did an x-ray and found he had a spot (bone met) on the shoulder he broke and one bone met on each femur. They waited until July 15th to do a full shoulder replacement and he had no cancer treatment as they were still trying to find out what type it was. I was angry with the way they were taking so long. He developed a blood clot in his shoulder obviously because they took forever to replace it. He went in on a Sunday had a stent put in his shoulder and then the next day underwent a three...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Brianna Stephens

I am feeling thankful that today my husband went out with his dad (we are neighbors) and caught a bunch of bass and some crappies. He was really happy when he got back. After dinner he said that since his cancer diagnosis, he felt stress-free for the first time while out fishing. My heart was filled with joy and sadness all at once. I just want to buy this man a boat or take his place in this journey. I want him to feel like himself again. Last spring, he was healing from a radical nephrectomy only to dive right into full blown stage 4 translocation renal cell carcinoma a couple months later.  In May we were treating brain mets, learning to re control the right side of his body in July. And beginning immunotherapy in June. In August he had a rod and pins placed in his right arm. He di...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Denise Thompson

It’s interesting and bonding to read about similar and difficult experiences we are all having during this pandemic. But the hardest thing for me right now is my own mindset. I guess I didn’t come into the pandemic with great reserves of strength. Last July, we moved three to four hours away from our older son and his daughters, who are now in college, as well as our own daughter, in order to be here and watch our younger son’s two little girls grow up.  I still think it was a good thing to do. But moving is hard, especially since it also took us further from our siblings who, like us, are getting older. I am missing people. Then came my cancer diagnosis in October. I don’t need to explain anyone who has gone through that how hard it was to hear those words. On Janu...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Joanne DiFulvio

In 2006, I was recovering from unrelated surgery when I became ill. I went to the ER where a CT exam was ordered to see if I had torn internal sutures. It was during that exam when it was discovered that I had a 6CM mass on my left kidney. They call it incidental finding.  I was terrified. I was only 58 years old at the time. My own mother passed away from cancer. All I could think of is how she suffered towards the end of her disease.  My family surrounded me and we had a consult with a local urologist. He didn’t answer my questions. He didn’t treat me with compassion. Needless to say, we didn’t proceed with him. We opted to seek care at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. While there, I saw Dr Hyung Kim, a Urological Oncologist.  After consulting with Dr. Kim, it was...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Joanne Muscat

Today was my 5 year diagnosis anniversary. Wow, what a journey… Considering they only gave me an 8% survival rate for stage 4 metastatic RCC. I’m not in the clear and never have been, but it’s been an amazing experience. I’ve traveled the world, and lived, laughed and loved like never before. Today was also my ct scan day coincidentally. I get results on Thursday.  These results will determine my future. You see, my immunotherapy trial stopped working after 3 1/2 years. I’ve been on Cabo since December, so if it’s not working, there will be nothing else they can do. As the biggest tumour I have is on my lung, right near my heart. It’s inoperable. But in saying that, I’m ready whatever the outcome. I’ve had an amazing life. Today when I ...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Lisa Condon

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.  ...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Joe Torpey

I am 66 years young. I was incidentally diagnosed in the emergency room in Sept 2019 while getting an ultrasound for a shooting pain on my right side from under my arm to my waist. The doctor came in and said we don’t see anything that would cause this pain, possibly a pulled muscle, but we did find a 6.5 cm growth on your left kidney that you should get checked out. The urologist I chose was Dr. Chen at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. I met with him in October. Dr. Chen said he recommended a robotic partial, his only concern was the proximity of the growth to the collecting reservoir. We scheduled surgery for December 18th, as I had a golf tournament in November. Dr. Chen said it’s been in there a while so there was no rush. Waiting was really hard though. This was my first surge...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Constance Robinson

My name is Constance Robinson. I was diagnosed with chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (chRCC) in 2006 at the age of 30.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch it fast enough to save my right kidney. I remember the symptoms starting with pain in my right side. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I used to work out all the time. I thought I had pulled a muscle from my TaeBo exercise routine.  I remember another month going by and the pain was getting worse. Along with the pain began night sweats. As the days progressed, I felt as if I was coming down with the flu and just the feeling of not being well. I got up the next morning and went to urgent care where they ordered some bloodwork and an x-ray.  The x-ray came back with results of only gas and constipation, but my bloodwor...

Voice of Kidney Cancer – Immunosuppression and COVID-19

Today’s Voice of Kidney Cancer is not one story, but many stories. We all are struggling with how our individual lives have changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have closed, travel bans are in place, the uncertainty is wreaking havoc on the world economy. Today we profile three families who are uniquely impacted by the outbreak due to immunosuppression. Mary’s husband Rick was diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer in 2018. Thankfully he was able to get great care from Dr. Chuck Drake at Columbia Cancer Center in New York. Enrolled in a promising clinical trial, Rick responded well to immunotherapy. But like many people who respond well to these treatments, Rick also suffered adverse events. As a result, he now needs to take steroids to suppress his immune syst...

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