My kidney cancer story starts by having no symptoms, but a wife who told me to go to the doctors. Mainly because she was getting a disturbed night’s sleep whilst I was peeing for England during the night. So, as all us men do, I duly obliged. I just happened to take a urine sample with me. The doctor did a quick test and announced I had blood in it, despite never seeing any. So they took blood to test for prostate problems.
A few weeks later I had a letter making an appointment for a camera to be inserted into a place where a camera should not go! Every test was coming back normal, but 2 week further on they sent me for a CT scan, and this is where the story really begins.
The crushing news was that a 3 cm tumour was on my left kidney. The hospital decided that a biopsy would be difficult to get, so they said they would remove the tumour and then tell me if it was anything to worry about. They said the operation may be keyhole, but they may decide to take the whole thing out. At this point I said that if my son needed a kidney I would have donated one, so what’s the difference in taking one out. I have never really suffered with stress. Teaching the morally disabled in a pupil referral unit never worried me. And having confiscated guns, knives and drugs off pupils on a regular basis; why would this cause me a problem. Afterall, I would be safer in the theatre than on the corridors at work!
The day came (December 19th 2015). The pre-op room ended up like a comedy sketch: The epidural was given and I was told to swing my legs onto the trolley. That is easier said than done when you are paralysed from the waist down. Five hours later I woke up in the worst pain I have ever felt. Somehow my sciatic nerve had got stretched. The pain was unbearable, so plenty of morphine was given and the wonderful dreams began. Then to top it all my kidneys started to fail, so I had dialysis for 5 days until they had kick started back. Whilst all this was happening, I forgot about the effects of the operation because that was causing me no problems at all. So I spent 2 weeks in New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, and enjoyed Christmas in there as well.
Four weeks later ….. the hospital rang to say they wanted to see me. Nothing to worry about but they were concerned about my walking. So was I! To be fair because the zimmer frame was making dents in the carpet and my wife was on the verge of organising a new carpet. The doctor confirmed that it had been a grade 3 cancer, stage T1a, but he was happy they had good margins, except one spot that he described as a non-edge, which they had stitched to destroy the cells. We went home fairly happy, but knowing scans every 6 months were on the cards. My wife duly sent messages to all those who had been so supportive, and told them that the “autopsy” had shown I had had cancer. Obviously the flowers and deepest sympathy cards were very nice to receive. We then contacted everyone again to say the “biopsy” had shown cancer and that I was still alive. We laugh at my wife, not with her!
Six weeks after the operation, I have to say there was no pain or discomfort from the kidney surgery. Although, I could tell when I had not drunk enough fluid because I would get a feeling of slight sickness. I had no visible signs of puncture wounds either. Now I get the odd twinge, even after 2 years, but it’s nothing that I even need a pain killer for. It usually lasts a minute or two and it goes. I even fell over the garden wall after about 4 months and landed on my side, which was recorded on a video we shared with our KCSN patient support group! I would also add that I feel the same now as I have for years and years. Although, it does help when you retire and your time and days are your own. The dogs also get a good walk every day in the local woods.
I am now 2 years on from surgery with the “all clear”. My mind says to me; if the first scan is clear, why would the others be any different? It’s odd really, because of all the problems I had, my leg has caused me the most problems, like in a car park, as soon as someone parks next to me I cannot get easily in or out of the car. But I realise that is a very minor problem to have, having survived kidney cancer and an “autopsy”!