Eric, who was otherwise a healthy individual, was diagnosed with stage II kidney cancer last December. The doctors estimated that the tumor had been growing for 9-10 years. Eric beat the cancer by undergoing a radical renal nephrectomy on his right kidney.
Q: Tell me about your diagnosis. How did you find out you had kidney cancer?
A: I joke that I blame it on the Minnesota Viking. As my family and friends can attest, I rarely sit still. On Dec. 3, 2017, I sat on the couch watching the game. After a couple of hours, I had a sharp pain in my back and figured it was from sitting too long. Later that evening the pain was unbearable so I went into the ER with what I thought were kidney stones. Upon completion of a CT scan, I learned that I had a significant mass that had encapsulated my right kidney. After many additional scans and tests, I learned I had stage II renal cell carcinoma. It was the size of a grapefruit. The doctors estimated the tumor had been growing in the kidney between 9-10 years. It was mind-boggling because I had no other symptoms until the bleeding started and I went into the ER.
Q: What was your reaction when you heard the news?
A: Like anyone who hears they are diagnosed with cancer, I was shocked and scared. A million thoughts go through your head and you can’t prepare yourself for that news. I am healthy otherwise, and there was no explanation as to why or how the tumor started, as it is not common in someone my age and health. I’m married with three young children so all my attention went to trying to make it “less scary” for my kids. I am fortunate to have amazing family and friends that surrounded me with prayers, support, and help. My wife is incredibly strong and was the rock, she took on everything and didn’t miss a beat which helped me both mentally and physically.
Q: What treatments did you undergo?
I am part of an amino therapy treatment program. Unfortunately, I did not get into the experimental group to receive the therapy drugs. I’m in the control group that proceeded with the radical renal nephrectomy to remove both the tumor and right kidney. The program is looking at a liver cancer amino therapy drug to potentially treat kidney cancer.
Q: How did you cope with your diagnosis? Was there any practices or rituals you did on a daily basis?
We all have a cross to carry at some point, and I put my trust in God that if this was mine to carry I was ready. I pray often and not just for me but more for my family to make it easier on them. I was confident in my diagnosis and doctors. I took the mindset that I would attack anything that came at me because I didn’t want those around me, specifically my kids, to be concerned. It was my way of coping with it.
Q: Do you live life differently since your diagnosis?
It probably sounds cliche, but I don’t take things for granted. I believe these things happen for a reason and I can say I’m a better person for it happening to me.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is going through a similar situation?
I know it’s scary when you get diagnosed, but inform yourself and trust in your doctors. There are so many resources out there and different health systems and organizations working on this. Also, surround yourself with positive people. For me, it was my faith, my wife, and an amazing circle of family and friends that prayed for me. I know that made all the difference.