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Andrew Weddle – My Kidney Cancer Journey
My name is Andrew Weddle, I’m 52, married and from East Kilbride, Scotland. I would like to share my kidney cancer journey with you.
Two and half years ago in October 2015 I started losing weight rapidly, so l went to my GP who thought I was anaemic and sent me for a scope. The results came back clear but during this time my weight was still falling off. My GP referred me to a consultant at the hospital in December 2015 who took one look at me and booked me in for a CAT scan. The results came back in the first week of January 2016 and I went back to my GP to get the results thinking maybe it was some type of stomach bug; I was not prepared for what I was about to hear.
I walked into my GP’s office and was told I have kidney cancer and it had spread to both lungs and my pancreas. I walked out of that surgery with all sorts going through my mind. My GP then referred me to the Urologist at my local hospital, but by the time he saw me a few weeks later unfortunately there was nothing he could do for me.
At this point he referred me to the Beatson cancer hospital in Glasgow and I went thinking I would have an operation and everything will be fine, I was so wrong. I went there with my wife mid-February 2016, I remember it so well. I sat down in the oncologist’s room and he was very nice and asked how much we knew? I said nothing. He said, ‘your cancer is aggressive and incurable’, at this point we asked for a timescale of how this was likely to go, how ‘long’ did I have? He said six to eight months if treatment didn’t work, which they didn’t expect it to due to my markers and the aggressiveness of the disease and surgery wasn’t an option at this point as they felt I wouldn’t survive the anaesthetic. It was at this point we actually realised how ill I was.
Once we had gathered ourselves together as best we could, he said would start me on a course of Pazopanib and explained how the treatment would work. Understandably we both walked out of that room very upset.
The following week I started on the treatment. It didn’t work overnight, and it was very hard on my body once it got to work. I was admitted to hospital early on, I had to have a blood transfusion and was very ill. The district nurses came in weekly then fortnightly to do my bloods and blood pressure. It took a long time for the drug to start working in a positive way and show results but, eventually my bloods went back to normal and I started putting weight back on. Throughout the later part of 2016 and most of 2017 my road to recovery was tough but was going the right way. It eventually got easier and my scans every three months showed the tumours either staying the same or were getting smaller. This was fantastic news.
By late 2017 my Oncologist felt I was well enough to go through surgery to have my left kidney removed and sat me down to explain the risks. I spoke to my family and decided to go ahead and underwent the procedure on the 9th January 2018 by keyhole surgery. The operation went well, and I was in hospital for three days. Six weeks later I had a scan and was worried the cancer may have spread as I had been off treatment since the week before the operation. I needn’t have worried; the scan results were good; the tumours were not doing anything. This was brilliant news and the doctor said he would keep me off treatment for another three months, at which point I’d get another scan to see how we progress from there.
I had that scan a month ago (April 2018) and when I got my results yesterday (24th May 2018) I couldn’t have been happier; the cancer is behaving well with no sign of the tumours. I was so happy, we asked if I was cured but the oncologist replied, ‘we don’t like to say cured, but it’s good as it gets’.
I hope my story has helped you if you are currently fighting this horrible illness. In 2015 I was told I might not see the year out. Well, here I am two and half years on in May 2018 and I am now back at work for 30 hours a week, my wife and I are planning holidays and thanks to determination, incredible support from my family, outstanding care from my doctor, oncologist, nurses’ and of course, the life-giving drugs that got my immune system to clear these tumours out, I’m now looking forward to a second shot at life.
Thanks for reading, Andrew.
Malcolm is Chief Executive Officer at Kidney Cancer UK and Kidney Cancer Scotland and has worked with the charity in various capacities for over 15 years.