• Debbie Murphy

Day 6 Questions Answered – It’s Kidney Cancer

At this point I had seen several doctors and a consultant along with different registrars on ward rounds but still hadn’t received any definite diagnosis. Neither had my husband been present at any of the various explanations of why I was in hospital or what had led to my admission. This was apart from day 2 when a registrar on a ward round told me the lump bleeding inside my kidney was cancer – news given on my own with no further explanation. Since then I’d also been told I’d lose part of my kidney, the whole kidney, possibly if they stopped the bleeding no surgery and that the ‘lump’ wasn’t yet identified. For this reason together with my husband I had written down questions that we needed the answers to. As it was impossible to time visiting hours with doctors ward rounds the answers to these questions would inevitably be given to me alone, but we needed answers. The doctor on that mornings ward round was not anticipating being given 12 questions to answer when he came round to see me, neither was he expecting to have to wait while I wrote down the answers. However, I needed those answers and thankfully he cut to the chase and I felt I finally knew what I was dealing with. So here are the answers but I’ve also included what actually transpired as things don’t always go according to plan;

1. Q.When will I have the operation? A. 3-4 weeks The surgery actually took place 9 days later. I was told it would have been immediately after embolisation as a rule but the surgeon was away and on return he already had a list to follow. 2. Q. What are you removing and what is the cause and how do you know? A. Cancer. We know a dirty big tumor when we see one. Told you he cut to the chase. No cause given. 3. Q. What will be the procedure? A. Keyhole or open, the surgery will depend upon the size of the kidney as it will have swollen due to the cancer bleeding and subsequent embolisation. This can also cause the tumor to stick and therefore be more difficult to remove hence usually removing sooner rather than later. 4. Q. How long does the operation take? A. 2-3 hours It was actually 5 and a half hours. 5. Q. Has the CT scan shown full extent of the growth or will the operation be exploratory? A. Yes. That’s all I’d written so I’m guessing it was exploratory… 6. Q. Will there be a biopsy to determine the grade of the growth? A. We know what it is. I didn’t get more than this and as you will find out, it was over a month post surgery until I did. 7. Q. Is there a possibility of reocurrence? A. Always is. Another succinct answer. 8. Q. What is expected duration of hospital stay post surgery? A. 2 days It was actually 5 days. 9. Q. Explain post op procedure and limitations? A. 6 weeks no chemotherapy or radiotherapy if confined to the kidney. That’s all I wrote. 10. Q. Referral or revue venue post op? No answer. 11. Q. Operation venue? A. Heartlands, Birmingham. 12. Q. Will my husband get a chance to speak to the doctor/consultant? If he’s here early morning or late evening. Shame that didn’t fit with visiting times…

Well that’s it. All I needed to know about kidney cancer given in a ward round visit on day 6 of my hospital admission, alone. I was grateful to know what I was facing and felt more prepared now.