I went for a physical just before my birthday in September 2013. As my doctor was palpitating my stomach on the right side, something kind of hurt. She thought that I might have gall stones so she sent me for an ultrasound of my stomach.
I scheduled my appointment for the next week. I remember the ultrasound tech kept digging in towards my back, just under my rib cage and thinking that it hurt. I wondered why she was back there, but didn’t really think too much of it afterwards. I had to head to some meetings after my appointment and afterwards, I sat outside to eat lunch as it was a beautiful, warm, early October day.
When I got back to my car and checked my phone, there were several missed calls and text messages from my doctor’s office. I called my doctor back and she told me that they found a mass on my right kidney that needed to be checked out immediately.
She sent me to a urologist who had me get blood work and a CT scan and sent me to a surgeon at University of Maryland Medical Center. I made an appointment with him the following week, took my CT scans and he came back in about five minutes to tell that my kidney had to be removed. We didn’t know at the time that it was malignant and wouldn’t know until after my surgery.
I scheduled my surgery that day before leaving his office, and two weeks later, my right kidney was removed. I still wasn’t too worried, believing that it was benign. I remember going to my post-op appointment two weeks later, and the whole time that I was parking, walking in to the office and waiting, I was thinking, “benign, benign, benign.” They finally called me back, the doc came in and told me that it was malignant Stage III renal cell carcinoma with a high Furhman Grade.
Of course I freaked out, thinking the cancer was coming back and that I was going to die! The next two days were a blur. My family and friends stepped in, boosted me up and helped to find my amazing oncologist, Dr. Firozvi.
Even though the cancer was cut out of me during surgery, there was a high risk of recurrence. Dr. Firozvi told me of a drug trial and found out that I was eligible, so I started within two months of my surgery. It was a double blind study and lasted for a year. I’ll never know if I got the actual drug or the placebo, but I’d like to think that I got the real thing.
That was 3-1/2 years ago and I’m blessed to be alive today. My surgeon told me that had they not found my tumor when they did, it would have metastasized throughout my body and I probably wouldn’t be here today to tell my story. I urge everyone to go get their yearly physicals!