Hollyann Prince is 27 years old and from Warrington. In support of Kidney Cancer Awareness Week, Hollyann has written this special blog. She has stage four kidney cancer.
As I sit here typing this, I’m currently nursing my back from a second bout of suspected pleurisy whilst trying not to get too worried about every gurgle my stomach makes. You see, at two am this morning it was coming out from both ends.
Now, this isn’t because I’ve had food poisoning, no, this is just life on my new tablets, Cabozantinib, and you know what, I’m okay with it. Sure, it isn’t nice, and I don’t think my partner enjoyed being woken up so early but I’ll take all the side effects if it gives me just a little more time. Just some more time, that’s all I ask for. That’s all I yearn for.
I will have my next CT scan tomorrow; a scan which means I must force down a contrast dye on an empty stomach in order for them to create a detailed image of my insides. Not only do I get the joy of having this lovely drink, I also get the stuff injected into my veins and pumped through my body during the scan. All this mixes together to form an incredible, vomit inducing contrast cocktail.
Every three months, like clockwork, I will do this. Every time I do, I will always wear the same cardigan, in the hope that it will bring me some luck but when it comes to results day, I will don my lucky top instead.
Now when I say lucky, these gems have only worked about half the time, but I’m willing to forgive them. You see, I was diagnosed in October 2015 and I had my left kidney out in November 2015. Unfortunately, my kidney cancer just fancied coming back so I began immunotherapy in April 2016 but had to started taking sutent in October 2016 when sadly, the immunotherapy treatment stopped working for me. After ten months, we discovered yet another new tumour had grown (I currently have around six) and so, I needed to change treatment to cabozantinib, which I started in September 2017.
I will admit, I have been through the mill a few times and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t exhausted, mentally and physically. I’m not saying I want to give up (I have told my doctor I would like to live until I’m one hundred and twenty-five years old) but a little break would be nice. And if we could start that break now until I’m one hundred and twenty-five then that would be even better! But, I know kidney cancer and I don’t think that will happen sadly.
I think to me; kidney cancer is this thing that has just taken over everything. The weird thing is as much as I hate it, it’s my body that’s doing it and I can never quite get my head around that. I don’t hate my body, in fact I’m impressed with everything my body has been through: organ removal, egg removal, pneumonia, protein leakage and don’t even get me started on the side effects of chemo or immunotherapy (I have arthritis so it was extra painful at times) but I do hate the cancer. Although, sometimes when I say that I panic it will hear me and start growing again!
As much as it interferes with my daily life – my relationships, my work, my social life, my future – I try my best to keep going. Sure, I allow down days where the side effects win (a bit like today really, where I stay in pyjamas and eat popcorn) but I must admit, kidney cancer does make me look at things differently. I know what stress really is now, I know what friendships really mean now, I know what new levels fatigue can reach and I know the worry of not having a future.
So, I guess as much as I despise you kidney cancer, I have to thank you for making me live a little more, for making me accept my body more, for giving me that extra boost to spend yet more money on clothes and to make me want to see more of the world. I have to thank you for strengthening certain relationships, for making me realise how little awareness there is around you and for quite frankly, keeping me on my toes.
However, in all honesty, kidney cancer you truly suck, and I sincerely hope (like all other cancers) that you sod off and never return.
So please, do all you can do to support Kidney Cancer Awareness Week 2018, get the information pack from here , start conversations on your social media pages, use the #KCAW2018, just get people talking and we can start fighting back against kidney cancer.
Here is a video we made with Hollyann.