I was talking to a few new kidney cancer survivors recently, mainly about how the diagnosis, and subsequent surgery and treatments change your entire life. They do, I’m not going to lie to anyone about it. A diagnosis of cancer, no matter what stage, no matter what type, is life changing. For the rest of your life you will have had cancer, or be living with cancer, or fighting the cancer.
At first it is absolutely terrifying. That word alone strikes fear it most people’s hearts. Any of you who have read me for the past couple years know how bad it was. I have never been more scared in my entire life then I was at the start of my cancer journey.
Throughout the doctor search, the surgery, the recovery, I was scared and angry and just pitiful. I wanted to know why I had this cancer, why I was the one dealing with it.
Of course, we’ll never know why this happened for sure. I’ll never know why my kidney decided to grow a cancerous tumor. I mean, it is a hereditary cancer in my case, but, why am I the one in this generation of Pietras and Doans, to have it?
Now, almost two years post nephrectomy, I am doing better. I still have health issues from the cancer, the lymphedema in my right leg, the constant watching of kidney function, the spot on my incision line that continues to open up (it is a half inch section that opens again and again, my pain management dr seems to think that one of the “dissolvable” internal stitches never dissolved,” and I have a couple small hernias on hte incision line.
Okay, some of that stuff is a pain in the ass, but, damn, I am here to experience it. I am alive and able to bitch about the aftereffects. I am here for the good shit, too. Like celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary on October 24th. Moments, like the Halloween party for kids, where Corey, in his baby monster costume refused to walk (he’s a new walker) and when he got tired, just laid his whole body on the floor.
The moments like when my husband comes home from work and smiles when he first sees me. Even after all these years, he still smiles when he first gets home. All those things make everything I went through, and continue to go through from the cancer worthwhile.
I’m not going to say that getting cancer was a good thing for me. I know some people are changed for the better. I just think it happened, I am alive, I am still Suzy, just Suzy with one less kidney, one more big scar, and a lot of friends in the cancer survivor community whom I would never have met without this.