What am I doing on this site? Me? Cancer? No, no, no. You have the wrong person!
And I know I'm not the first person to feel this way.
November 2011.....my husband, (Bob) and I decide to make a trip down to Guatemala to complete a project we had begun with a team in 2009. Our departure date: November 8th. I only got about 2 1/2 hours sleep the night before, but I was excited so the adrenalin was pumping. It was a 3-leg journey, so needless to say, by the time we got there, I was beyond exhausted!
Second evening in Guatemala....went to the washroom and my urine was brown!!! Very strange. Wasn't sure what that was about. Thought I'd let it go this time; perhaps it was just some freaky thing and it will go away by morning. When I woke up early on Nov. 11 to go to the bathroom, my urine was very dark brown. I alerted Bob that I had better see a doctor. My friend, Mandy, who lived close by, walked me to the nearest clinic where I saw a regular Dr. I immediately had urine tests, blood work and an ultrasound. The only thing that showed up was a birth defect (ureterocele) in my left kidney, and a kink in the left ureter. The doctor assured me that this was not the problem.
Since I had absolutely no other symptoms, no fever, pain, etc., he sent me home with instructions to drink lots of water and it might go away in a few days. It didn't! It got worse, with the urine changing colour.....red, pink, light brown, dark brown, sometimes almost black. Back to the doctor. He said that I must see an urologist and promptly made the referral.
More blood work, urine tests, and a CT scan. The results.....yes, I had 2 "lesions" in my right kidney. They were not cysts and they were not stones. Yes, they are probably tumours, but he assured me not to worry. They might be benign. He was so gracious. Said that they could do further diagnostics there in Guatemala, but the next step would be an ureteroscope. He strongly suggested waiting till I get back to Canada. We still had a little over 2 weeks in Guatemala....I asked him if that was o.k. He said to rest as much as possible, and that I MUST see an urologist as soon as I get home.
Easier said than done. Here in Canada, you cannot make your own appointment with a specialist. You must be referred. SO....first I had to see my family doctor....that was just before Christmas. Saw the first urologist on January 19, 2012. I had the CT films from Guatemala. He said not to worry--that it was probably nothing that couldn't be fixed. Hmmm. He booked me for a ureteroscope for March 15.
This particular doctor I was NOT impressed with. I'm already in the hall on a stretcher waiting to be wheeled into OR when he comes and announces to me that he thinks from the CT scan and the cytology that we have a pretty sure diagnosis and that I will need to have my kidney removed!!! WHAT??? I was in shock. I had already done a lot of research, and pieced things together so that yes, I was pretty sure it was cancer. BUT I had no idea how it would be treated. In my ignorance, I thought that maybe they could just remove the tumours. But WHY was he telling me this NOW? He assured me they weren't going to do it that same day (well, I hope not!), and then proceeded to tell me that he would probably refer me to another urologist who specialized in laproscopic techniques.
That particular ureteroscope was a complete waste of time--he said there was so much blood that he couldn't see anything. He left a stent in between the kidney and the bladder.
I was referred to Dr. James Watterson at the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital. My first appointment with Dr. Watterson was on April 2, 2012. What a difference--a real gem! He gave me a full hour of his time, going over everything, answering all my questions thoroughly (complete with little diagrams he would draw). He booked me for yet another ureteroscope for April 12th. So back to surgery. He took a video to show me the tumours. Diagnosis was confirmed: Transitional Cell Carcinoma in the right kidney.
In the meantime, even though I had been living a very health conscious lifestyle, the gap between "what I knew" and "what I did" closed. I began juicing a few times a day, cut out sugar completely, reduced my stress levels as best I could, continued to exercise. You name it. I was on my road to health and healing, surrounding myself with positive people and LOTS of prayer. I was really hoping I could beat this without surgery. Dr. Watterson had to speak very firmly to me a few times....."Teresa, you are in denial." "Teresa, this is not going to go away with simply alternative means..."
I had already started seeing a new naturopath at the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre on the recommendation of my own naturopath whom I had had for over 20 years. I had started on a couple of new supplements: Modified Fruit Pectin and AveUltra. These I took along with all the other food supplements and good food I had already been taking. My thought was that even if I needed surgery, I would still go into it as healthy as I possibly could. But still hoping that God Himself would touch my body and miraculously heal me. I did NOT want to have surgery.
But I had surgery. May 12, 2012 I had a radical laproscopic nephro-ureterectomy (complete removal of my right kidney, right ureter and bladder cuff).
It was performed by the famous Dr. James Watterson and his very competent team at the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital. I was surrounded with an army of pray-ers from around the world. I was blessed with all of the best. No, a miraculous healing directly from God's Hand did not occur. But He did use the hands of this precious Doctor to perform a miracle in my life!
The road was not easy but I learned so much!
To be continued. Part 2: Bladder Cancer