I decided to end the week with a strong finish. Although this story is fast forwarding a lot from the previous stories, it is one of my favorites.
When I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer I had no symptoms. All my urine cultures were clear, no back pain at all, no symptoms at all indicating something was wrong with my left kidney.
About mid September 2011 I started having shortness of breath and fatigue. I visited my primary care physician, which at that time was Dr. Konduru, to address theses symptoms. I have a history of chronic iron deficiency anemia. The doctor proceeded to get some blood work done to check my iron level. When the results were ready I was told to come in the office to discuss them with the doctor. The doctor stated my hemoglobin was at an 8, the normal is anywhere between 12-16. He asked if I was still having the same symptoms, I told him I was. Dr. Konduru recommended I go to the emergency room if my symptoms persist or worsen so I could have a blood transfusion done.
On September 26, 2011, I decided to go to Rex Hospital and have the blood transfusion since my symptoms were not getting any better. My shortness of breath was becoming worse, to the extent of not being able to carry on a conversation without having to gasp for air. The doctor on call at the emergency room ordered blood work to check if my levels where increasing. Fortunately, my levels had gone up from 8 to 8,6. The doctor came in the room, where my father, brother-in-law and close friend were with me, and stated since my levels were increasing, he wouldn’t recommend a blood transfusion. I asked the doctor, “how about the shortness of breath, its not getting any better?” He stated, “we are going to have you walk up and down the hallway to check your oxygen level”. And so they did. I walked up and down the hallway with a nurse and became extremely fatigued causing my oxygen level to drop to 87.
At this point the doctor was concerned I had a PE (pulmonary embolism). They send me for x-rays and CT-scan of my lungs, luckily a PE was not detected, but in the CT-scan they went low enough to find a mass or something that looked like a mass in my kidney. The doctor said, “its an incidental finding and its probably nothing, just follow up with your primary care physician for further evaluation”. The doctor decided to have me stay at the hospital that night so I could have the blood transfusion.
A couple of weeks after that, I followed up with my primary care physician for further evaluation of my left kidney. He ordered I have a Urogram done, which is an in depth study of the kidneys. I had the procedure done that week and returned to Dr. Konduru the following day. The night before the follow up, I received a call from Landmark Urology, stating I had an appointment scheduled the following day after I see Dr. Konduru. After I received that message I knew something serious was happening. I went to see Dr. Konduru, I could tell by the expression on his face the results were not good ones. Dr. Konduru proceeded to tell me I had a tumor in my left kidney and it was pretty big. I asked if it was benign and he stated “make sure you do not miss the appointment with the urologist because they will be able to do a biopsy and proceed from there depending on the results”.
I knew Dr. Konduru did not want to be the bearer of bad news, and I didn’t blame him. The following day I attended my appointment with the urologist, Dr. Daniel McCrakan. My father accompanied me because I needed the support just in case things went bad. Once Dr. McCrackan pulled up my imaging on the computer, he explained to us what everything was and showed us where the tumor was. The tumor was located inside my left kidney, the cancer had not spread, it was contained within the kidney. Than he turned in his chair and looked at my father and I, he said, “We need to start talking about surgery”. I was a little shocked at the rush on the topic, and I said “I thought I was going to have a biopsy first to indicate if its even cancer” I responded. The following words he spoke changed my life forever. He said “I’m 85% sure the tumor you have in your left kidney is cancer and we need to act fast to remove it because luckily it hasn’t spread as of yet.
I remember my dad crying trying to ask the doctor if I was going to be okay, but he couldn’t get the words out. I turned to Dr. McCrackan and he teary eyed as well. When you get news like this, its like having a bucket of iced water spilled over you. You don’t know how to react and it feels as though your mind, body & all of your senses are in slow motion trying to process all that’s been said. I’m thankful to God and everyday I give Him all the Glory & Honor for allowing the doctors to have found the cancer on time. This experience made me reflect on life and how I was living it. It made me realize what is really important in life and what I should be doing. Although this experience took a toll on my family, my friends and I, I’m thankful God allowed me to go through this wonderful experience because it opened my eyes to how much He loves me, has mercy over me, and how He has kept me through it all. For this and so much more I have to be thankful to God.
On November 18, 2011, I had my left kidney removed by Dr. McClure & Dr. McCrackan, who prayed with me before we entered the operating room. After the surgery the doctors spoke to my parents, who were in the waiting area with all my friends & the rest of my family, and told them I was blessed because the cancer was caught right on time. The tumor was almost as big as my kidney. The doctors informed my parents I had one more year to live before it would’ve killed me. But praise God for His mercy & grace, He allowed me to survive and here I am 2 years later Cancer Free!!!!