Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Special Birthday

Tomorrow is my husband Ron's birthday.  He will be 66 years old.  The fact that he is here to celebrate is a miracle in itself.  In 2009 he was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma stage IV.  But he is here in spite of the grim prediction that only 8% of those diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer survive 5 years.  Up until Ron's diagnosis I didn't know anything about this cancer.  Ron never had any alarming symptoms or was sick at all.  What finally took him to the doctor was he developed a varicose vein on his left testicle.  Something I now know is a symptom of this disease in men.  We explained Ron's other symptoms such as night sweats on age and hormones, he had been treated for hypertension for several years so that wasn't alarming and he had no weight loss or fever.  His symptoms were easily overlooked.
Most early detection of kidney cancer happens when someone undergoes an MRI for some other reason and the cancer is accidently detected.  If caught in it's early stages it has a very high cure rate of over 90%.  If the tumor is less than 7 cm and hasn't spread beyond the kidney.  Ron's tumor was more than twice that size...as the surgeon explained to me it was "the size of a football" and unfortunately had already spread to his lung.  

Given such grim news it was hard to keep our hopes up.  We learned that it is what they called a surgical cancer only.  Meaning it doesn't respond to chemotherapy or radiation and has to be surgically removed.

So because of a great Oncologist who has gone to bat for Ron to get each and every surgery he is still alive and right now considered cancer free.  He has survived beyond five years and we are starting the 6th.  So no matter how grim the news can be I've learned that there is always hope...even in places you never expected to find it.  That doesn't mean things always work out the way you want them to but hope is a very powerful medicine in itself.

Other signs and symptoms of renal cell carcinoma include the following:
  • Weight loss (33%)
  • Fever (20%)
  • Hypertension (20%)
  • Hypercalcemia manifestations (5%)
  • Night sweats
  • Malaise
  • Varicocele (2% of males) - Usually left sided, due to obstruction of the testicular vein.


Olga Hebert said...

Happy Birthday to Ron. You both have reason to celebrate!

kenju said...

what Olga said. Congratulations to Ron and Happy Birthday!!

marciamayo said...

Happy happy birthday to Ron and best wishes to both of you.