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This World Kidney Day, guest blogger and Macmillan volunteer Paul has written this blog about his experience of kidney cancer. He shares how he learnt he had kidney cancer after a pain in his side while on holiday, and how he has since recovered from surgery to remove his left kidney.
Sitting on a beautiful beach in Menorca after a refreshing swim while on holiday, I started to feel a pain in the right side of my abdomen. At first I thought I might have pulled a muscle while swimming. I went back to the hotel room where the pain became so intense I could not move. My wife called a doctor and I was taken by ambulance to a medical clinic.
Following an x-ray, I was told that the pain was caused by a stone in the right kidney. They had also noticed a shadow in the left kidney - possibly a cyst - but said that it was nothing to worry about.
The next day I had a CT scan and an ultrasound after which a consultant urologist explained that I had kidney cancer.
On my return to the UK, I went to the GP and was then referred to a consultant who confirmed the diagnosis I had received in Spain. He then explained that I would need surgery and the left kidney would have to be completely removed, known as a nephrectomy.
The following days were very difficult. Obviously it came as a complete shock since I had been feeling fit and healthy with no symptoms at all.
A few days later I was preparing to go into the hospital for the operation. The kidney was removed using key-hole (laparoscopic) surgery, after which I stayed in hospital for four days. The kidney was sent for analysis and sometime later I received the good news that the cancer had not spread outside the kidney.
Recovery was gradual and sometimes painful, but I returned to work after about two months. My employer agreed that I could work part-time for the first few weeks.
I had lost quite a lot of weight and surprisingly it was a struggle to put it back on. My GP referred me to a dietitian who developed a plan to help me regain a few pounds.
Since the operation two years ago, I have not experienced any problems at all from having just one kidney. To tell you the truth, I have not noticed any difference.
I have a CT scan and meet with my consultant every six months and so far everything is okay, for which I am immensely grateful.
I try to take care of the remaining kidney to prevent further stones or infections. I have changed my diet to low-salt, drink lots of water, eat as healthily as I can and exercise regularly.
It seems that often there are no symptoms for early stage kidney cancer and that the tumour is discovered during an investigation into an unrelated medical condition, as in my case. So in the end that kidney stone, however painful at the time, was a blessing in disguise.
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Sounds like you have made a good recovery Paul. Long may that remain the case. Great blog, Ian.
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