I have a tumor. A tumor with a blood supply that the surgeon says looks to him like a malignant cancer. There IS a chance, however small, that upon removal we will find out that the tumor is benign. However, the course of treatment is the same and there is no way to determine if it is benign or malignant prior to removal so the point at this time is moot. Kidney Tumor = Removal. Benign vs Malignant simply affects my chances of recurrence long term.
So Jen, what type of cancer do you have?
Primary kidney cancer, also called renal cell cancer, refers to a malignant tumor that originates in the kidney. The most common type of kidney cancer in adults is renal cell carcinoma, which arises from the small tubes within the kidneys.
So Jen, why did you get it?
Although no one knows all the causes of kidney cancer, the following factors can also increase the risk of developing this disease:
- being male
- being obese
- being over the age of 60
- high blood pressure
- a genetic risk
- being on dialysis
- being an iron worker
In other words I HAVE NO FREAKIN' IDEA WHY I GOT IT. Read that list - I don't have a single risk factor on it. Last week, the transplant team told me I was in "ideal health". Before this news, my blood pressure was (and I quote!) "that of a child". In other words finding out I had cancer in my kidney's was the shock of the doctor's life, and mine as well.
So Jen, what are the treatment options?
There are a couple of options. I am choosing, so far at least, to opt for a partial nephrectomy. Partial nephrectomies are relatively new in the treatment of kidney cancer, and what it means is that I will have the tumor, and surrounding kidney tissue removed but the majority of my kidney will remain. The cancer is in my left kidney, which also happens to be my STRONG kidney (oh the things you find out when you are donating a kidney!) and because there is a chance of recurrence I want to retain as much kidney function as I can for future options, if they are needed. At this point in time it is assumed that I will not need follow up chemo unless the tumor turns out to be severely aggressive, which is highly doubtful, although possible. Surgery will be sooner rather than later - what that means in reality I have no idea.
So Jen, are you going to live?
Hell yes. Am I freaking out? Yes. Have I have written my own eulogy, planned the music and got myself dead and buried? Yes, admittedly I have had those moments. For goodness sakes its only been 5 days allow me to freak out a little! Google slays me at the moment and has brought on more than one panic attack. I am praying for a "peace that passes all understanding" right now. This cancer IS curable through surgery. My chances of survival at the 5 year mark are, as far as I can tell, above 90%. The overall chances (since I know you are all going to go off and google) is around 45% with this type of cancer HOWEVER I am young, healthy, with a VERY early diagnosis. The odds are in my favor.
More than ANY of that though, I have 4 little boys that desperately need me. I will fight and do anything - absolutely ANYTHING to beat this.
Ah Jen, is this going to turn into a cancer blog? What happened to your musings on adoption and life as a multi-racial family?
Yes, cancer is now part of my life - and the lives of my children. But I know (Thanks Judy) that by no means am I the only adoptive parent dealing with her own mortality, while trying to be there for her children who have faced way too much loss in their lives already. Telling my boys was the hardest part of this journey. Maybe, in someway it will help someone else. Right now I have to figure out how to support my kids and promise to them that despite the fact they have lost two mothers before me, that I intend to be here a long, long time.
So Jen, how can we help?
This is where I want to say thank you to my friends and family; Meals, flowers, thoughts, prayers, holding my hand, crying with me - or crying for me because I am not shedding very many tears right now. To those of you who commented or sent emails, I thank you. To those of you who have added me, my dad, my family to your prayer chains, I thank you. I suppose the chance to be heard through this means the most. If you still choose to read, despite the fact I might get obsessed and boring, if you give my kids an extra hug, or drop off a casserole, listen to Shel's talk it through. To understand that right now, my life is absolutely insane and I might forget the odd birthday or cry unexpectedly and to also understand that my life must go on, and if I seem "happy" that's ok too.
So Jen, how are you feeling?
I am OK. I am overwhelmed by how this has affected those whom I love, and whom love me. Go read here http://ticksandtrust.blogspot.com/ This is written by a long time, best, sister friend from my youth who faces a struggle WAY bigger than mine, and yet she cries for me. I am scared for my husband and my boys. I am scared for me. I worry about my sister and my dad. I now understand however what hearing that "C" word does. The clock stopping, the world shrinking, the overwhelming horror that overtakes your life. Mostly though, I am trying to remember I Am Blessed. It was found. I will be free of it. Why me? Why am I so lucky?
So Jen, what about your cousin?
She is currently off the transplant list right now due to another health complication but she will need a kidney. Soon. I trust that she is in God's hand but would ask that you pray for her too. Please. I don't know why I was asked to walk this journey that in turn gave her and her family some hope, only to have it shattered in a way we could have never anticipated for both of us. Am I thankful for myself? Not yet. Just pray for her.