In 2012 I lost a kidney to cancer. The event came out of nowhere. I was watching football on the couch when at 3:30 I started experiencing some pain in my back. By 5:30 I was lying in bed trying to stretch and work out the pain. By 6:15 I was telling my wife to take me to the ER. By 8:30 I was being told there was a 13cm mass on my right kidney, and they were admitting me to monitor pain and blood loss.
The next day, when things had calmed down a bit, I began to reflect on everything. There was no way the mass was cancer. I don’t have cancer on either side of my family. I am a non-smoker. I was in the middle of training for a marathon….no way it was cancer. Later that afternoon my urologist came into the room, looked at the scans and said “You have renal cell carcinoma – kidney cancer. We have to go in and remove the whole kidney.” 11 days later I went in and had my kidney removed. It turned out to be stage II grade 2 cancer. It is believed that the mass had been in my body for ~10 years. Yet I had showed zero signs.
I recovered quickly from the surgery and within 6 weeks was back to my normal routine including lifting weights and running. Since my surgery I have gone into see the urologist for checkups. The first year I went every 4 months. Then he moved it to every 6 months. With my visit yesterday he is moving me to once a year. He even joked that we can now start getting a little cocky.
As I was leaving his office I asked him something that had been on my mind since that first visit in the hospital September 2012. I said “When you first looked at my scans you told me that what would happen is, you’d go in, remove the kidney and all would be well. How did you know all would be well?”
Very seriously he turned to me and said “I remember you were scared. In all honesty I felt you had about a 55% chance of making it. What good would it had done for me to say that to you?”
55% – yet when going under for the procedure I thought I was near 100%. Gulp
I got to my car in the parking lot, sat down and simply said “Thank you Lord”. All this time I had thought I had be fortunate by experiencing the pain when I did, which forced me to the ER that Sunday evening in September 2012. Turns out, I was in a whole lot more danger than I had thought.