I was diagnosed August 6th 2013 with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) at age 59, which came as a total shock to me. The end of 2012 and 2013 was one thing after another for me. After suffering from tachycardia for years and having seen many cardiologists, I was rushed into hospital with a heart rate of over 203 bpm after seeing a cardiologist and feeling unwell. My blood pressure, although on medication for years, had been extremely high on a few occasions, and it was decided I needed what they called an atrial fibrillation (AF) catheter ablation. I then had a knee operation in January 2013, and was rushed into hospital again in April 2013 with another AF episode and again heart rate over 203 bpm. I had what they called a cryoablation in the London Independent in July 2013.
Three weeks later I was still feeling very ill and felt sick, off food and weak, so on Monday 5th August, the day I was due back to work, I called the hospital (I was lucky enough to have private health cover) and spoke to my surgeon who has looked after me for years with irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease; he said come straight up. How lucky I was; he did abdominal and pelvic CT scans and bloods straight away. I was so lucky to get booked straight in. He said to come back tomorrow for results. August 6th I asked my husband to come with me for some reason; normally I would go on my own! My surgeon then said, “Your bloods are all fine; however …..!!” The rest is history; I was diagnosed with RCC and saw an amazing urologist the next day. As I was on warfarin I had to wait until 31st August for a partial right open nephrectomy, and they removed a rib as well, which I was told was necessary to get to the kidney.
I was extremely lucky to get caught so early, and also very lucky to have contacted Julia Black at the KCSN before the operation. Julia put me in touch with Rose Woodward who really helped me a lot. It took me a long time physically and mentally to recover. I had to have a further colonoscopy and gastroscopy under a general anaesthetic in December 2013, just to finish the year off (lol) and got told I had Barrett’s oesophagus, so I have to be monitored for that. For me looking back, my blood pressure and racing heart were all signs for me personally, and how my body was reacting to the cancer. Also, unfortunately, cancer is a genetic issue in my family. I lost my Mum with bladder cancer, my uncle with prostate cancer, and my cousin aged 58 with kidney cancer (bless him) a couple of weeks ago, diagnosed very late stage. I feel very blessed and although 2013 was horrendous, out of it came luck and love with a 4th new grandchild, whom I am very lucky to see starting school this year.
I continue to have my scans and for me I think I will continue to be monitored, even if I have to pay for them I think it’s so important. Kidney Cancer Support Network is an amazing organisation and has helped me enormously.