Update for Readers, Friends and Bloggers – Renal Cancer Info That May Be Important to You

The last time I posted here was June 15th, 2014. Hubby and I were preparing to meet our son and daughter-in-law in New York for his entry into Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital. In Los Angeles he was diagnosed with Renal Cancer (Kidney – Clear Cell) just days after his honeymoon. We spent about 8 weeks in New York City this summer, the first time for a lung biopsy, as the cancer had metastasized there. It was a difficult surgery. His weight had dropped drastically before the surgery, and more so after.

In late July, a kidney was removed and he did well with that procedure. Amazingly, he was out of the hospital on the third day. The end of August, they returned to Los Angeles and we returned to our home in Oklahoma.

Two weeks ago he began a series of immune system strengthening treatments as well as the systemic drug his Sloan Kettering Renal Oncologist prescribed for him. He is doing well with both treatments.

Recent PET and MRI scans shows no other signs of cancer, other than that in his lungs.

I feel this is an opportunity for me to tell you some things about Renal Cancer that you may not know. Maybe it will help someone you know in a timely manner — an opportunity we did not have.

1. Renal/Kidney Cancer has few symptoms. My son’s symptoms began with what doctors on both coasts thought was a sinus infection. He had a cough that extended for many months. This was eight months before his diagnosis. Last Spring night sweats started, fever, nausea, and fatigue. As a friend and doctor in my hometown told me, it is NEVER good for a man to have night sweats.

RCC is often not found until the cancer is quite advanced because there are usually no clear-cut symptoms pointing to the kidney as the problem. Most patients have excellent kidney function. Any symptoms typically are quite general, such as fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, or anemia. Blood in the urine is usually a late symptom and is often wrongly attributed to infection.

Because CT scanning has become more prevalent as a diagnostic tool for all sorts of diseases and situations such as auto accidents, today RCC is often discovered as an incidental finding before there are any noticeable symptoms. When it is discovered early, the prognosis is excellent. However, even Stage IV patients can sometimes go into complete and lasting remission. Many Stage IV patients can regard their RCC as a chronic condition which is treatable. Even if they do not go into remission, it is not unusual for Stage IV patients to live for years with a good quality of life…

A very important note:  Even if there is no indication of a genetic or hereditary component, others in the family should be regularly screened for the possible development of kidney cancer. Even cousins have shown an increased risk. Usually scanning should begin at age 35, and earlier if the diagnosis of a relative was made at an earlier age. The National Cancer Institute strongly recommends CT scans or MRI for this purpose rather than ultrasound scanning. Sonograms can easily miss kidney tumors. Source: International Kidney Cancer Society

2. Blood in the urine is seldom an indicator of Renal Cancer. It was not a symptom my son had. His kidneys seemed to be functioning just fine.

3. A chest X-ray about March 2014 showed nothing.

4. A CT scan rendered the diagnosis.

On my side of the family, there is a history of breast and prostate cancer. Sloan Kettering doctors, a doctor at Cornell Weil Medical Center, and our research, indicates a possibility that there is a genetic connection between breast, lung and prostate cancer, and perhaps Renal Cancer. Research in that area is ongoing. There is no known history of Renal cancer on either side of our families.

Had a CT scan been used as a diagnostic tool years ago, the tumor, which we are told began to grow 10 to 15 years ago in my son’s kidney, would have been discovered, removed and a Stage 4 diagnosis would not have been this terrible reality.

If your doctor will not approve a CT scan, you can pay for it yourself at most labs. Expensive, yes, but I would have done whatever necessary to get that scan, had I known what I know now.

As we sat in the Renal Oncologist’s office, it was apparent that my son, in his mid-thirties, is very young comparedHeart_In_Lifted_Hands_1jpg to the normal Renal Cancer patient. If the tumor has been there for 10 to 15 years, as they tell us it has been, this story began in his early twenties. Other than the cancer now in his lungs (Renal cancer, not Lung cancer), he has always been in good health. He has never been overweight, never smoked, never done drugs or had any kind of unhealthy addictions. His alcohol use was limited to an occasional beer.

We could not feel better about his urology surgeon, oncologist and lung surgeon. There is not a lot of success with this particular cancer. They were all visibly moved by my son’s situation at this age, and I could feel the conviction to do their very best for this very young man.

Both my son and daughter-in-law are pillars of strength. The day after the diagnosis, he went on an anti-cancer food regime with such determination that I was in awe the entire time we were with them in New York City, and believe me, it is not an easy way to eat. He continues it today. It would not have been possible to do without his talented wife who does miracles with a Vitamix, a juice extractor and a food processor. She whips-up incredible dishes, and delectable pestos with raw foods – brought in fresh every day, all with such imagination and devotion. They began doing the most that they could do, immediately. As a cancer survivor myself (almost 20 years), I did the most that I could do. There is no other way to handle cancer, outside of prayer.

Because of his age and his over-all health, and because so many of you out there, along with our family and friends, and their friends, who are strangers to us, are such amazing prayer warriors, and because of his strength and faith, and ours, we feel encouraged about his and our futures.

I want to thank all of you who left such encouraging, supportive comments on my original post. The offers of prayer, the scriptures, the emails — overwhelmingly humbling to both me and my husband. We are so grateful for you, and for our son’s friends and business acquaintances, who have been unimaginably generous and loving. May God bless you and hold you and yours in the palm of His hand.

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  • Jack Shaw

    What an amazing story. Miracles do happen.Prayer is very powerful.
    So happy to hear of your family’s success.

  • Thank you so much for the update, Maggie. I know many of us have been concerned. I cannot even imagine what you’ve been through.

    Prayers will continue…

  • Beachley CE

    God Bless you & your family, may He continue to watch over you. So happy for you all.

  • KatieNorcross

    Cancer is survivable, I can personally attest to that. Your family is in my prayers for a complete recovery. I know he will do that!

  • Fixall

    Great to hear from you, and am glad that it is good news. Plus it is very informative.Prayers will continue to go out to you and your family.GOD bless all of you.

  • Xavier

    I was just thinking about you yesterday, Maggie. Thanks for updating us with your good news, and I hope the rest of the treatment goes well.

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  • whowon

    Thank you Maggie, I sure have been thinking of you and praying for your family. A sigh of relief after reading this!

  • Great News, and solid advice Maggie.. sounds like you can start to breath again..

    Good to see you back here.. hoping you’re almost ready to start blogging again, your insights have been missed by a lot of people

  • Guest

    Maggie…I have checked back everyday for updates on your son, all the while keeping you all in my prayers.

    Sloan Kettering was the best place to have your son get his treatments.

    Will continue praying for you all.

  • Oh, Maggie. I pray that all turns out well for you and your family.

  • littletboca

    Maggie you and your family are in my prayers. God is awesome1

  • Wow, Maggie what a journey. You were in my thoughts this weekend and always in my prayers as you and yours will remain. Thank you for the update. D.

  • LadyImpactOhio

    What a brave family. I always pray for the doctors’ guidance as well as for the patient. Thank you for the advice, I would never have thought a cough could be a symptom of renal cancer.

  • Rick Stanley

    This was a wonderful post. A truly inspiring post after you have been through so much. I wondered why you had not been posting this summer. I understand fully now. May God CONTINUE to bless you and your family through difficult times. Wonderful to hear that things have turned around so greatly.

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  • maryland2

    Maggie, I suggest you contact this guy. He was diagnosed with either colon or prostrate cancer and researched/started a regimen of vitamins, foods, etc. He is currently cancer free.
    He lost his wife to ALS and has recently remarried.
    I read his blog. He’s a “tell it like it is” guy.
    Good luck and God bless.
    Mike “Mish” Shedlock

  • Glad to hear the wonderful update, Maggie. And glad to see you write again. Sometimes, it can be a great therapy. You have my number. Call if you need anything and we will still be praying.

  • disqus_KH0F5xMG8U

    I am feeling your pain. My daughter is in a battle for her life against ovarian cancer. She is again in chemo treatment after having been declared in remission last Xmas. Just as you, we will not give up! The age of miracles is not past. We pray for your son & for you, my dear. God bless all…Alphamom/Marianne Wilson

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  • bobmontgomery

    Candles still burning all over the country, Maggie. And thanks for sharing the info.

  • cryandhowl

    Hello Maggie!
    I’m very happy that things are better for you and your family. Rini and I will continue to pray for you all. Know of a certainty you are sorely missed but we all just want the best for you and your family.

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  • LadyRavenSDC

    Oh Maggie. Thank you for the update and the information. I am passing it along everywhere I can. Most all of us have faced that ugly disease and information like you posted is so important when you are searching. Bless you and your family – you are (still) in our prayers.

  • conservativeBC

    Stay strong Maggie. Your boy is going to need you — praying…

  • Geo

    Thank you for the update Maggie. Very encouraging news. Will continue to keep you and yours in our prayers.

  • Always On Watch

    You and your family remain in m prayers.

  • I am so glad he is doing better Maggie! Thank you for this update and information.

  • edge_of_the_sandbox

    Thank you for sharing, Maggie. Best wishes to you and your family. I didn’t do much blogging this summer, so i wasn’t in touch. Glad to hear things are going well.

  • Deidre Marie

    Prayers for you and your family, God will watch over you