Early in the morning on one late winter day in 2006, I checked into the hospital emergency room to treat a severe colic pain, and a CT scan revealed a small stone in the right kidney. But that was the smallest problem; the CT also revealed stage 4 metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (mRCC) in 80% of the left kidney, between the wall and the membrane of the left kidney. The question for me was when the surgeon would do the surgery. I was told they would need to monitor the status of the stone overnight and then plan the timing to remove the right kidney. The CT scan next morning revealed no stone in the kidney and they made preparations that same evening for surgery the next morning. I was told that only 2% of smokers usually get this kidney cancer. I am not a smoker and none of my family members–close or extended–ever had cancer. After the surgery, they found the kidney was stuck to the colon, requiring 6-8 inches of the colon removed along with the kidney. Thus, my life with cancer began! With the left kidney removed, my system worked without medical treatment–other than monitoring through periodic scans.
RCC is a slow growing cancer but would continue to attack other organs and bones. In 2008, a small metastatic lesion was removed from my left lung’s lower lobe, followed by the midsection of the pancreas in 2010. In 2015, CT/MRI revealed small metastatic lesions in both lungs and at the head and tail ends of the pancreas. I consulted several well known cancer centers in the country for the best options and latest technologies for surgery as well as potential immune therapies (Chemotherapies do not apparently work well like it does with other cancer types). The available immune therapies all have debilitating side effects and low survival rates. Since I was asymptomatic and otherwise healthy, I decided I will choose quality of life over longevity and not go for any treatment unless it became essential. Instead I tried, and continue to try, alternative medicines such as Ayurveda and Tibetan medicines the last 5 years in addition to dietary restraint. The lesions are still growing, but at a slower pace, with the propensity to grow exponentially at some point! At some point when I begin to experience symptoms, I may be forced to consider immune drugs!