Papillary Renal Cancer / Partial Nephrectomy / Back to work tomorrow - 4 months on

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Just thought I'd post an update, possibly to help others that are going through what I have been through. I'll write this in a cut down form to help make it short:

  • Diagnosed with Papillary renal cancer end Feb - 4 cm
  • Quickly one month later had half kidney removed - Partial Nephrectomy in Haywards Heath Princess Royal. Great service.
  • Hospital was 'interesting' - nice to have support on ward of fellow folks in dire situations. Lots of good chats, though we were all high on the drugs!
  • Went home after 4 days
  • Struggled with resting as an active person, was training for half marathon trail races before operation, and a lot of that fitness carried over for a few weeks and definitely did too much.
  • Crashed physically week 3 and went back to basics. Dialled it all way back.
  • If I'm honest, got a bit too fond of the opiate pain killers, as I have a bit of an addictive personality. Spotted it early though and stopped taking them.
  • Also saw too many friends and too many social situations which took a lot of energy and I think hampered my recovery. Dialled that back also.
  • Had great support from work, tho it was stressful chatting about it. Noticed I was struggling mentally to deal with this and other major life events.
  • Struggling to find a way to explain my cancer and noticed how I was over sharing constantly then getting exhausted. 
  • Discovered Macmillan from a friend and that's been great support. Visited the community garden in Brighton but initially did too much.
  • Noticed that I only had about 3 or 4  hours of decent energy after 2 months. Flank bulge was big until 12 weeks or so.
  • Recovery was sooooo slow.
  • In week 6 went to physio who pointed out it was way too early to start building strength. Consultant secretaries said STOP DOING STUFF!
  • Started therapy for mental health week 10
  • Discovered the Stoics school of philosophy and that's really helped.
  • Week 7 - histology showed a more aggressive and rare form of renal cancer. It was also quite deep. That wasn't good news.
  • Got referred to an Oncologist to look at treatment to prevent reoccurrence. Had a few weeks of wondering whether I would have more treatment or just scans. 
  • Had scans on body and head.
  • Week 11 returned to Oncologist - I made lame joke about finding nothing in my head. Fell flat - wrong crowd. He explained they had decided as no evidence that Papillary cancer responded to treatment (few studies done) that they would recommend scans only (and crossing fingers basically)
  • Used fitness markers in Strava and Apple Fitness to build strength and monitor exertion, especially 'Fitness and Freshness' in Strava.
  • Running felt and still feels just horrible with lots of minor strains happening, as my core is so weak.
  • Bought two more bikes (3 now!) as cycling feels much better and more manageable. That got me out into nature and around town. I might transition more to cycling now.
  • Basically it's been 1 step forward, 2 steps back all along.
  • I'm going back to work tomorrow, 4 months after operation. I've practiced not sharing everything and just keeping responses to "where have you been?" all under my control. We will see tomorrow. 
  • I've accepted that my fitness is going to take many more months to get back to where I was. Maybe it will just be different.
  • I think it will all actually be different now. I'm also thinking about what this all means going forward. 
  • Before all this I kind of lived my life like I was immortal. Turns out I'm not. I met a friend recently who said they were struggling with a new diabetes diagnosis - they said 'Why did it happen to me - I'm fit and healthy?" - I thought -  "Why not you!" which illustrates how I feel now. The Stoics say we are all actors in a play and we've been assigned roles, BUT we haven't been consulted in the process. Some roles are long, others short. We have no control over that. Sounds tough but that's what I believe now. 
  • No guarantees going forward, but comfortable with that.

Take care all. Hope that might help someone. xx