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Kidney Cancer UK News

Mike Tunstall

Mike Tunstall – My Kidney Cancer Story

It all started with a vague pain in my right testicle leading to me making an appointment with my GP in June 2009. Three months later, I found myself on the operating table having my whole kidney together with a large tumour completely removed. The surgery was successful and with no spread to other organs, I was cured!

Regular follow-ups ensued every 6 months for 2 years then annually. It was at the seven-year follow-up with my Consultant Urologist suggesting that there was no good evidence to continue with surveillance, that a small primary tumour was discovered – approximately 18mm in size. They discussed my case at regional multi-disciplinary meetings following which I was referred to another Urologist to discuss treatment options. We discussed Partial Robotic Nephron Sparing surgery in detail but there was a very small chance that I would lose the whole kidney if there were any complications. This of course would be catastrophic given that is my only kidney.

Mike Tunstall with partner Kaye

Mike Tunstall with partner Kaye

I declined this option and was given a referral to an Interventional Radiologist in Liverpool to look at the possibility of Radio Frequency Ablation. In the meantime, I began my own research; leading me to Dr. David Breen at the University Hospital of Southampton. I was very impressed with Dr. Breen’s excellent and informative video on Kidney Cancer UK’s website (click here to view) and straight away knew that this was the bloke I wanted to treat me. Within weeks, I had a consultation with Dr. Breen where he explained the procedure in detail and was very reassuring. I had no hesitation in agreeing to have my tumour treated with cryoablation.

On November 25, Dr Breen treated my tumour; at the same time, he took a biopsy to confirm malignancy. I was quite sore after the procedure from where the needles Dr. Breen operated through had pierced the skin but within hours, I was up-and-about and I went home the next day.

I still have some numbness in my side but that’s improving all the time. Within a month following the operation, I was back to my normal activities. At my follow-up scan Dr. Breen confirmed that it was a low grade cancer and he was very pleased with the images. I will now have regular check-ups to look out for any reoccurrences.

The discovery of this second tumour was obviously devastating for me but the availability of this minimally invasive procedure, which foregoes the need for major surgery, I believe, is a huge breakthrough.

I hope my story helps those reading who have similar diagnoses and are considering a similar treatment path. I can reassure you that this is an effective treatment option that can eradicate cancer with a relatively painless procedure if you’re diagnosed at an early stage.

I will always remember the words Dr Breen used when he referred to my tumour after the procedure; ‘It’s toast!’

My best wishes to you no matter what stage you are at.

Mike Tunstall