Brenda H’s Story

My journey began back in 2018.  I had been suffering from abdomen pain for a few years, accompanied by, what I thought was, muscle strain into my flank area.  I did have a uterine fibroid and was told over and over, that being so close to menopause, this fibroid would just shrivel up and go away over time and that it getting a tiny bit bigger here and there was not a concern.  That didn’t sit well with me, so I finally got a second opinion.

I made an appointment with a different Gynecologist.  She asked if any doctor had ever mentioned cancer to me.  I said, “No, but this fibroid is getting bigger and I don’t like it.”  I will never forget walking out of that office.  Just having a doctor look you in the face and saying the word “cancer”, brings everything into a different light.  My new Gynecologist sent me to an Oncologist/Gynecologist who mentioned cancer, as well, and proceeded to order every test to rule that out.  We started with blood work, a chest x-ray and a CT scan with contrast.  Twenty-five hours after the CT scan, I was called and told that my fibroid, yet huge, was just a fibroid, but I had a mass on my kidney.  I was in complete shock!

I followed orders and got an appointment made as soon as possible with a Urologist.  Meanwhile, I picked up the radiology report and saw that along with the one big mass, there were several smaller masses.  Renal Cell Carcinoma was written all over the report.  I instantly went into fight mode.  Telling myself to wait for confirmation and to push forward.  Not even a week later, I met with the Urologist and it was confirmed that I had Stage 1B Kidney Cancer.  In that moment, my life, as I had known it, changed forever.  I remember saying to myself, “You will survive this!”

I spent the next fourteen days preparing for my upcoming surgery.  I had a Nuclear Medicine 3 Phase Bone Scan, saw a Cardiologist and got blood work done.  On March 12, 2018, I had my cancerous kidney taken out and was very blessed that it had not spread to surrounding areas.  I was cancer free, or was I?!

I still had a huge fibroid in my uterus, the size of a four-month pregnancy, so eight weeks after my nephrectomy, I had a full, and I mean full, hysterectomy.  It was at that point the Oncologist/Gynecologist confirmed that the fibroid was NOT cancerous.  He had a slight concern he might find cancer once he got in there to remove the fibroid, so this was great news!

To my surprise, he performed an appendectomy, as well.  The fibroid had started to adhere to the appendix and there were some lesions forming.  Both surgeries were now over, I was completely cancer free and I could focus on healing, both mentally and physically.  I’ve gone back every year for my annual kidney checkups and each time that feeling of angst flushes over me.  That pit in my stomach comes back, which I think is natural.  The phrase, “everything looks great”, sounds sweeter than honey!  What I know for sure is that I am lucky to hear those words and never take it for granted because so many survivors are not as fortunate.  We are all in this together.  I am happy to share that I just celebrated my 3rd year anniversary of being Kidney Cancer free!

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