An Unwanted Journey

I am embarking on an unwanted journey. It’s not the trip to Paris of which I’ve dreamed for fifty years. It’s not a trip to the desert. It’s a journey through kidney cancer.

In February 2021, I had to have a physical to begin training with my new guide dog, Shani. I saw a physician’s assistant, Mark, who works with the internist I have as my primary care doc. I don’t like the internist. She talks down to me, knew pretty much nothing about    JRA, and spoke to my friend Joylene, instead of to me. But Mark was different. He oozes compassion. He knew about JRA, asked informed questions about my joint replacements and generally came off as respecting me. So, I felt confident to tell him about something that had been bothering me.

For a couple months, I’d been having pain when I had to pee, pain before and after. It didn’t feel like a UTI, but I thought that was probably it, or maybe a kidney infection. Mark ran a urine test and it turned out there was blood in my urine. He had me come back twice to run the test again with the same results. After the third one, he ordered a renal ultra sound and referred me to a urologist.

All my test results are online at the site for my health care facility, so I read the test results once they were submitted. It showed I had a tumor in my left kidney. The urologist ordered a CT scan of the left kidney, and the results showed there is a renal carcinoma. Yeah cancer in my left kidney. I am scheduled to have the kidney removed on April 20, 2021.

This freaks me out, honestly. The urologist says it hasn’t spread to other tissue, and that removing my left kidney will solve the problem, but I’m still scared. What if they find it has spread? My dad died of lymphoma cancer, and I have too many vivid memories of what that did to him, between the cancer and the chemo.

I don’t want this. I don’t want this. I do not want this! I know, I know, millions of people live with only one kidney. I’m trying to find reading material about living with one kidney. Are there dietary changes I’ll need to make? Will any of my meds be problematic? My JRA is the type that is systemic, so it can cause damage to the kidneys, among other internal organs. Will there be more risk to my lonely right kidney? I’m scared, okay, I’m scared.

Everyone is trying hard to be positive with me. It’s going to be okay. You’ll do great. No problem. I end up feeling like I can’t express my fear and the terrible constant buzzing in the back of my mind wondering what’s going to happen. My logic knows I’ll be just fine. But I’ve had terrible experiences with surgery, all those joint replacements. My heart, my emotions are just scared, and I want to scream it out to the world. It’s human nature to think, such and such could never happen to me. Of all the health issues in the world, I never thought it would be cancer. It’ll never happen to me. But it did. Sigh.


For people reading this who may not know, JRA stands for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis