Who can I talk to that will understand? After unsuccessful attempts to clear up a urinary tract infection, I was sent to an urologist, Dr Stephen Cornish, at Sunninghill Hospital. After examination and an ultrasound he booked me in for “CT scans” two days later. I had never had a CT scan and decided I...
Who can I talk to that will understand?
After unsuccessful attempts to clear up a urinary tract infection, I was sent to an urologist, Dr Stephen Cornish, at Sunninghill Hospital. After examination and an ultrasound he booked me in for “CT scans” two days later.
I had never had a CT scan and decided I probably wouldn’t bother to go. The next day I spent walking around an exhibition and by mid afternoon I could barely stand up – my legs were burning and wouldn’t work! I decided the scans might be a good idea after all.
The radiologist said I had a blood clot and didn’t want me to leave the hospital. I insisted, but returned the following morning for a series of injections and many, many, scans etc. The next day I was told by Dr Cornish “I am going to remove your kidney!” That was it!!! Luckily the nephrologist, Dr Diane Campbell was on hand to explain to me that my left kidney was not functioning at all and needed to be removed – and what I needed was Dr Cornish’s skill as a surgeon! A couple of days later I underwent an emergency nephrectomy. The pathology report came back three days later – just as I was preparing to leave hospital – renal cell carcinoma! So, four days later I had another operation to resect the renal vein and inferior vena cava which were full of thrombus and remove my gall bladder.
An interview with a gynaecologist on my last day in hospital told me that it was not over. Three days later the pathologist confirmed that my renal cell carcinoma had metastisised and was inoperable!
I was totally devastated – my husband was in denial – my son and daughter were in shock…. and I was stuck at home with no nurses, no doctors and no information.
During a visit to my oncologist I learned about the course of radiation I would have to have and the unpleasant side effects that were likely. Then he told me there was a chance that a gynaecologist in Pretoria might be willing to operate. A glimmer of light.
And so I met Dr Arrie Mouton at Femina Clinic. After consultation with the professors he agreed to do a radical hysterectomy and oopherectomy which, thankfully, appears to have been successful in removing the cancer.
I am so thankful for these wonderful doctors who are responsible for my recovery and particularly Dr Cornish who continues to monitor my health.
However, there was nobody with time to talk to me and understand my fears.
Strangely, I had no anger, no denial. What I did have was the internet and that gave me tremendous strength. I researched mRCC and I joined an American listserv for kidney cancer patients. I am very independent and I could now cope. But what about people without internet – frightened or lonely people who had nowhere to turn?
As soon as I was able I set about finding what resources were available in Johannesburg – and I was astounded at the lack (I was offered a 10-year-old leaflet on kidney cancer). I joined CANSA and became a volunteer – but that doesn’t cover the area that concerns me so much. People Living With Cancer is a much needed resource. People who are going through the hell that is cancer need someone to talk to, to help them cope with it – someone who has been there.
Johannesburg North Branch