Backgroundby Alan the CPA on January 10, 2015
I was originally diagnosed with kidney cancer during September, 2000. My first symptom was blood in my urine. Tests revealed a tumor on my left kidney, which was pressing into my spleen and lesions within both lungs. I had surgery to remove the kidney and spleen, and, in 2001, I followed up with high-dose IL-2. The lung lesions responded quickly and completely to the therapy, and I was declared cancer free during the fourth quarter of 2001. Just a quick side note – I survived a moderate heart attack just 8 months prior to the kidney cancer diagnosis.
I remained cancer free for 11 years until I started exhibiting some neurological symptoms during December, 2012. Tests revealed that I had a tumor in my brain, which was surgically removed in February, 2012, followed quickly by three rounds of radiation therapy. The biopsy revealed that the brain tumor was metastatic kidney cancer. During recovery from the radiation, I had an adverse reaction to one or more of my post op/radiation/cardiac medications, which resulted in decreased liver functions, jaundice, and dry mouth, necessitating an additional three months of hospitalization, for a total of six months during 2013 in seven separate hospital admissions. For three months I could not hold down food. In all I lost sixty-nine pounds. I was slowly dying from malnutrition and dehydration. At that point, my doctors stopped most of medications.
I discharged myself from the hospital on June 29 to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding where I had my first “solid” food, a few slices of cantaloupe, and then checked back into the hospital on July 1st, as previously agreed, only to be discharged the following day, with a picc line installed for intravenous fluids at home. I spent the summer at home with weekly nursing visits to inspect the picc line, and was receiving hydration several times a week administered by my wife. Slowly, I started to eat small meals. Basically, I was bed bound until the fall, and the few times that I ventured out was with a wheelchair, and the few events I attended were in the chair, including baseball games, the US Open tennis tournament, and a few stage plays. This continued into the autumn, 2013, when I started to consume full meals and my lab reports started to return to normal and the picc line was removed.
Follow up scans in the summer of 2014 revealed lesions in my pancreas, which though attempted could not be biopsied. The procedures found the lesions to be bloody, and they appeared to be kidney cancer, but could not be confirmed. We decided to monitor the lesions rather than treating the cancer, as it was important to me that I maintain a decent quality of life. As the lesions were growing slowly but not uncontrollably it was decided that I would commence medical treatment in the second half of 2014. The drug of choice was Sutent, but first I needed to live my life and enjoyed one last journey to Europe, where I was stranded in France owing to a strike by the pilots of Air France. I had full mobility at this point and was walking with a cane.
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