My Kidney Cancer Story

It was October 1st of 2009, a regular day at my office. I still had that dull pain in both flanks of my abdomen, something that had bothered me for a few months. A few weeks earlier I went to see an urologist, because in addition to that weird pain, I all of a sudden started urinating blood. No, not that kind of slight discoloration that you might encounter after you ate a meal with red beets. What I’m talking about was dark red blood and clots of bloody tissue up to 2 inches long.

The urologist told me that is was very likely that I had a couple of kidney stones bouncing around inside of me. I asked about kidney cancer, because after all, when you look up ‘blood in urine’ as a symptom, one of the most commonly associated diseases is kidney cancer, also known as renal cell carcinoma. He dismissed my thought, pointing out that there was less of a 2% chance that I had cancer of the kidney, considering that I was only 37 years old and in good health otherwise.

Well, he was wrong. As he told me that first day in October, the CAT-scan I had taken came back and the results were clear. A large 7 cm tumor had consumed my left kidney can the organ was in the process of dissolving. Kidney cancer diagnosis and treatment follows a standard protocol, so the next step was a cystoscopy, a procedure where a camera is being inserted through the genitals to see whether there is any sign of malignancy in the bladder or urinary tract. Despite the pain a patient encounters after such a procedure – during which a 30 cm stent was placed in my urinary tract – I was lucky, the cancer was confined to the kidney.

Two months later my left kidney was removed through laparoscopic radical nephrectomy. According to the pathology, my cancer was probably as old as 20 years and there is a good chance that is was caused by exposure to asbestos, very similar to mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Since the cancer had not spread outside of the kidney, chemotherapy or radiation was not necessary. Instead I changed my lifestyle, most importantly I cut out all the bad stuff in my diet. The reason why I told you this story: please do not ignore any signs or symptoms that you encounter and go to see a health care professional right away. This can literally safe your life.

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