When I look back at the last three months or so it all seems so confusing and amazing to me. I don't really know what compelled me to want to take a hard look at my health. I wasn't necessarily feeling unusual, or stressed out about any health issues. For many years I had done what I think most of us do, I got a yearly check up with my GP. The usual stuff, some blood work, check for prostate problems, etc. Every year I just continued on with a clean bill of health - pretty routine.
One day I was with a friend of mine who told me his story. He is younger than me and decided to have someone take a serious look at his health. He did and found out he had the beginning of prostate cancer, and because of his proactive stance, he was able to solve his health problem before it got out of hand He told me his medical team saved his life. That was enough for me.
I got in touch with Doctor Elaine Chin of Scienta Medical here in Toronto. Dr. Chin of Scienta specializes in proactive health care - not waiting for something to happen to take action. From the very beginning I was treated professionally and thoroughly. The Scienta staff must of taken a pint of blood out of my system to be analysed in four different labs. I had a stress test (emotionally and physically) nutritional assessment, colonoscopy. I spent a night in the sleep disorder clinic. Than I had an ultra sound on my abdomen.
After the ultra sound, Dr. Chin called me up to tell me they found a tumour on my kidney. She told me not to worry, but for the life of me I found it difficult to comprehend myself having a tumour on any part of my body. Didn't tumours mean cancer, and didn't cancer mean big big problems? Didn't my blood work indicate I was fine? Yes - she said - but very often this type of tumour doesn't show up with blood work. Ok - now what? I was told the chances of having cancer were 50-50 and that they wanted and needed to do a CT right away. Within days I had an appointment at Sunnybrook for the CT, which confirmed the tumour. A couple of weeks later I met with Dr. Nam, urology surgeon and genius at the Odette Cancer Clinic at Sunnybrook. Dr. Nam sat me down, told me I had basically two choices. He could do a biopsy on the tumour which he didn't recommend since the readings are often false and tend to stir up the tumour if it is cancerous or I could get it taken care of through surgery. I chose the surgery.
Within 45 days I was laying on a stretcher outside of operating room 6 at Sunnybrook. It all seemed surreal to me. I was calm, and prepared and certainly in good hands. I remember being wheeled into the operating room and thinking how complex it was. So many lights, people and instruments.
I was told they were going to put me to sleep now, I happened to glance around the room one more time, taking it all in. I noticed the clock on the wall - exactly 9:13.
When Dr. Nam came to visit me in recovery I asked him how the surgery went. Spectacular he said. Spectacular - what an odd word I thought. But it made sense to me coming from Dr. Nam. I asked him if the tumour was cancer - he said it didn't matter. He went in assuming it was and got everything. I was extremely sore, drugged up but relieved.
Three weeks later, on my follow-up visit with Dr. Nam he told me that the tumour was in fact cancerous. Being proactive saved my life or at least saved me from serious health problems in the years to come. The type of tumour I had doesn't really show up as a problem until it is too late. I was very lucky says Dr. Nam.
So - why do I share all of this? I think it is important to tell my story - one person may take action which could help their life - just as I did because of the words of my friend.
I am back now full time at work just four short weeks from major surgery. Last night I actually slept for the first time on the side of my incision without any pain whatsoever. That is big!! My followup with Dr Nam only includes ultrasound every 6 months. Dr. Nam tells me the chance of my type of cancer recurring is less than 5%. I will take those odds any day.