Skip Navigation

In the Nick of Time

Topic: My diagnosis
Created March 16th, 2011, filed in Recurrent Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer

In the summer of 1998 I took my son to the Dr due to a plugged up ear. We saw a female P.A. I liked her a lot and asked if she did well woman exams (I had not been checked in about 3 years). I made an appointment and during the exam she discovered I had fibroid cysts in my uterus. I had a hysterectomy in August and the Dr. discovered my left Kidney was several times its normal size. I had a CT scan while still in the hospital but all the Dr. said was I had a mass in my Kidney. I was referred to a Urologist and after some recovery time at home had every intention of calling and making an appointment. I did not see the urgency since Cancer had not been mentioned. After I had been home only a few days I got a call from my PCP asking if I had made the appointment since I had not I got a call back with an appointment time a few days later. It was on one of these calls with my PCP that Cancer was mentioned for the first time. I saw the Urologist and 11 days after being discharged was back in the hospital to have my left Kidney removed. I was lucky in the fact that the Cancer had not spread outside the Kidney yet. Things went well for awhile until a CT in April 2002 showed a mass in my left Adrenal Gland. After a biopsy confirmed Cancer I had it removed soon after. At some point after the 2nd surgery I was referred to an Oncologist. Again things went well for a while until a CT in September 2004 showed a mass in my Right Adrenal Gland. At this point my Oncologist advised me I was terminal with probably less than 5 years to live. She stated surgery would do no good (but could not give me a reason why) and I would have to take meds that would be dificult to regulate. I was not prepared to accept that diagnosis so I went to another Oncologist to get a 2nd option. He asked how agressive I wanted to be in treating the Cancer and advised surgery was definetly and option. In December 2004 I had my left Adrenal Gland removed. I did have to take 2 medications that were not that hard to regulate (currently I only take hydrocortizone). In December of 2005 I had a small tumer in the area of my right Adrenal area removed. I continued to be checked with regular CT scans with the 2nd Onclolgist (I did not to back to the doonm sayer). In December 2008 a CT scan showed 4 small tumers in my right Kidney and a MRI in February 2009 confirmed. Since the Kidney was still working well surgery was not advisable. In April 2009 I stated the oral chemo drug Sutent. The 50 MG pills were fairley harsh but tolerable. After several cycles I was able to drop down to 25 MG and that had not been bad at all. I will be having a MRI on March 22 (evedetntly the tumors cannot actually be measured on a CT scan) and hopefully the tumors will not have grown. Had I accepted the terminal diagnosis it is possible I would not be her to be writig this. I have tried to live my life as best I can. I go camping and ATVing. I have gone on a cruise, to FL twice, to VA twice and to CA. I go to work every day and take care of my home. I do get tired more easily but I try not to let that slow me down too much.

I'm Mary Smith, and I'm a healthcare professional

Hi Karen!

What a great example demonstrating why we need to be involved in our own medical decisions. The idea of you not getting a second opinion is sad and bleak. Yet all the travels you’ve taken and the success you’ve had with treatment is wonderful. Cheers to you Karen, and thanks for sharing!

  • Thu Mar 17, 2011