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An Unfashionable Cancer

by | Jun 19, 2014 | Personal Stories - Blogs

Welcome to our guest blogger section! This time we have Debbie who has kindly agreed to share her kidney cancer experience. She also writes her own blog ‘An Unfashionable Cancer’ which can be found here. Thank you Debbie for sharing your story!

We are still looking for people who would like to share their kidney cancer experience with others. If you want to send us your story please email Sylwia here.

My cancer journey started aged 46 without warning. I  led an active life running my own company from home in the fashion business. With a relatively healthy lifestyle, on no medications and never having had a hospital admission other than 2 pregnancies – I didn’t even know who my doctor was.
The first indication something was wrong was when early one morning I started passing blood in my urine, within the hour I had collapsed with a tremendous pain in my left side. Unaware of how seriously ill I was I went first to the local hospital where I was quickly taken via ambulance to the nearest Emergency Department. By this time the pain was so severe I was administered morphine intravenously and the decision was made to CT scan me.
From the scanner I was sent by ambulance to a specialist renal department at another hospital. At this stage I was still unaware that the scan had identified a large mass in my left kidney that appeared to be a tumor. Once admitted to the renal department I was catheterised and hooked up to an irrigation system to drain the bleeding.
In the next couple of days the news was broken to me that I had kidney cancer and I was sent for an embolisation which would hopefully stem the flow of blood. This procedure went well and the next stage was to take me for surgery and remove both the kidney and it’s tumor. My operation was quite lengthy due to the fact that I’d had a bad hemorrhage which can make surgery more difficult but the operation was completed using keyhole surgery successfully.
I was allowed to return home 5 days after having my kidney removed with the news that no other evidence of cancer had been found. I would await biopsy results of the tumor itself but so far the prognosis was good.
Within 2 weeks I was readmitted to hospital due to abdominal pain and breathlessness, a blood clot was the suspected cause and so I was sent again for a ct scan. Thankfully it was all clear and I was allowed home again.
My first post operative appointment was 6 weeks post surgery, those were the longest 6 weeks I can remember as I had no idea of biopsy results or any feedback from the operation itself. The cancer diagnosis was also very new to me and kidney cancer itself was one I had very little knowledge about. Finding information was extremely difficult hence finding the James Whale MBE Kidney Cancer Fund who were one of my only sources of direct help at that time.
The post op appointment wasn’t that informative, the good news was that no indication of spread had been found and the tumor itself was Grade 2 so low on the scale. Other than that no advice on diet, lifestyle changes, causation, exercise or anything else about kidney cancer or my case specifically was given.
At that time I was still obviously very sore from the surgery on my left side but I also had pain on my right side and back, this was dismissed as nothing to do with the operation. However, I was sent for a bone scan which came back clear a few weeks later.
Since that time I have suffered with the same back pain which has now spread to pain beneath my right rib cage, the back pain is at times so severe I find even walking difficult. It is now 14 months post surgery and after my 12 month routine ct scan I agreed to being signed off from hospital care and over to that of my local GP. The doctor has prescribed Gabapentin as the pain seems to be neuropathic, although no direct link has been made between the surgery and this pain I believe it is the cause. I had no previous back pain or symptoms of any kind before my collapse with kidney cancer. As my surgery notes have not been forwarded there is no way of knowing either but it is likely that nerve endings could have been damaged. I may never know.
Despite ongoing problems with pain I am very thankful that my kidney cancer was discovered and removed and will hopefully make a full recovery in time.

<a href="" target="_self">Malcolm Packer</a>

Malcolm Packer

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.