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Friday, 27 March 2015

Two Years with 1 Kidney Just Keeps Getting Better

This time two years ago I was in an operating theatre having my left kidney removed in a surgery that lasted five and a half hours.
Today I was up and out at 5.30am for a 2 mile run and I'll shortly be off to yoga to rid some of the aches and pains I have from my first netball practice in 30 years this week. I haven't felt this fit and healthy since, well probably since I last played netball which was at school.
When I read back my blog post from 12 months ago I see that I wasn't in such a good place. Surgery did take it's toll on me and although I tried to deny it, so did cancer. Complications with back pain meant my journey back to health hasn't been as straightforward as I would want.
However, I was determined to put kidney cancer behind me and saw the best way to forge ahead was to become as fit as I possibly could.
My memories of the day I joined the 'Mono Kidney Club' are still clear. It was snowing and in the car on the way Thorn in my Side was playing (very apt...). I can recall the gown I wore, meeting the surgeon in a tiny room where I was fascinated with his tiny hands (a good thing for a surgeon I think) and he dropped all his paperwork on the floor (not a good thing...). Being led from room to room, being asked which kidney was being removed (a little freaky as I hoped they'd know) and then having to climb onto the operating table myself which seemed really bizarre.
One of the things that struck me most was the anaesthetist admiring my sleeve tattoo and preferring to hook my other arm up rather than pierce the tattooed one.
Since my surgery I have had more work done on my sleeve, in particular I've had a kidney tattooed into it. I chose to have a kidney made up of leaf shapes and coloured green as this is the colour that represents kidney cancer awareness.

Right now I'm in a far better place than I have been in over two years. Even before I became ill, albeit suddenly I wasn't aware of how precious my health was and looking back I can see I was complacent with life in general.
Today I feel stronger, more determined and happier than I have in a long time. There are many debates about the question of whether cancer can be affected by your state of mind and I'm not about to enter into any of them. I can only say that my own strength of mind has helped pull me through this cancer ordeal. As for healthy mind, healthy body, it 's working for me.

Friday, 13 March 2015

2 Years in the Mono Kidney Club

Today will mark 2 years since I discovered I had kidney cancer after waking up and hemorrhaging from the tumor inside my left kidney. Shortly after I had surgery to remove the cancer and the kidney and there began a new lease of life.
I have reread my 12 month reflection on  this life changing event and realise how much difference a year can make. Back then it was still raw in my mind and I was still suffering painful reminders with ongoing pain.
In an effort to put the experience behind me as far as I possibly could I had moved hospital trusts and been discharged from consultant care preferring to see only my GP. I didn't want continuing check up reminders nor did I want to return to a CT machine regularly. Instead I went for the 'if it ain't broken why fix it' option whereby I would seek medical advice if I was unwell rather than 'because' I'd been unwell.
When I read other accounts of cancer discoveries I'm struck by how often there is a prolonged waiting, suffering and not knowing period. I was lucky I din't know and didn't have to wait or suffer till I woke up on Wednesday 13th march 2013 and Wham!
In sharing my journey on this blog I have been fortunate to cross paths with others going through similar and follow their progress also. I am struck by how incredible some of those accounts are. In particular is Lisanne Vos who's own experience is awe inspiring and can be read here Are You Kidneying Me  I have kept in touch with other members of the 'Mono Kidney Club' who's stoicism and bravery is incredible and has without a doubt inspired me to push on when things have become tough.
One of the best pieces of advice I received when my cancer was discovered was from a GP who said, 'Don't Google It!' This was after leaving hospital following surgery and having 101 unanswered questions about kidney cancer. Unfortunately as is usually the case when someone says 'Don't do it...' I have to push that button. In my case though I skipped the patient information links and settled on The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer  This charity has been a Godsend and by it's phone help line and website advice has helped keep me informed and positive.
I was going to write a Hopes & Fears kind of blog today but the truth is the fears would just be stating the bleeding obvious.
As for hopes, I have many but I've learnt that sometimes sharing them isn't always a good idea, especially if they don't come to fruition. I have many though, hopes, dreams and goals. One of which I reached yesterday having starting running a few months ago I took 30 seconds off my personal best time which was a big achievement. I don't compare with other runners as I prefer to run my own race in my own time which I have done pretty much with this kidney cancer battle. Apart from the incredible love and support my family have given and some wonderful friends, this was a personal fight and one that only I can conquer.
My Mono Kidney Club experience has not been easy but 2 years on I can see that without it my life may not be as focused and positive as it is now. Losing a kidney to cancer isn't something I'd want to go through again but I have to take the positives and there are many.
2 years, 1 kidney, they're only numbers. The here and now is, I'm here and now is the time to get on with life and live it to the full.