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In her community, Dawne Gee is known as the person with answers.

As a news anchor in Louisville, Kentucky, Gee, 56, is a smiling face to many on and off camera who often contact her with their concerns, especially when it comes to health because Gee has been so open about her own health struggles.

Dawne Gee, anchor at WAVE3 in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I grow tumors,” Gee said. “That’s just what I do.”

But there was a period of about three years when no one gave her the answer she needed.

Gee has a recurrent, benign tumor condition, so when a technician spotted three small growths in her left kidney following MRIs for stomach pain several years ago, they were considered cysts and both she and her physician let them go.

But the health troubles persisted. Subsequent MRIs showed the “cysts” had grown. Despite her growing concern, doctors continually told Gee not to worry about the growths and concentrate on her stomach pain, blood pressure, or other issues.

Finally, after feeling increasingly sick and seeing blood in her urine, Gee asked for her medical records, took them to a different facility to see a different doctor, and got another scan. There, a physician called her and suggested she had kidney cancer.

“That floored me because I’d been asking about these tumors for three years,” she said.

Immediately, Gee was scheduled for a nephrectomy to remove her left kidney and was soon diagnosed with a type of slow-growing renal cell carcinoma. This was in 2014.

“[Getting my records and] beginning the process of getting my kidney removed saved my life and I’m glad someone listened.”

Gee calls hers a “cancer family” – about 25 people including both grandmothers, four aunts, and three cousins have had cancer – so she knows she’s at risk. She’s also done genetic testing, which revealed the presence of five genetic conditions that make tumor growth more likely. However, much of what the test reported can’t be properly interpreted yet.

Recovering from nephrectomy wasn’t easy and Gee continued to struggle with stomach problems. She also had a stroke followed by an embolism, which she said were worse than the cancer. Today, she still has several tumors being watched.

Gee knows some of her health experiences, especially those that are the result of a genetic predisposition, might extend to others in her family and has urged them to do genetic testing. This includes her 35-year-old daughter, who has already had one tumor removed, though, despite her family history, she’s not eligible for genetic testing through insurance.

“In this battle of bad health, I learned that I we must be advocates of our own health. If a physician tells you something and you’re not comfortable, it’s ok to get a second opinion. Not only is it ok, it’s important to move to another doctor,” Gee said. “They kept telling me it was ok and I knew something wasn’t ok because I was really sick. And I only learned that after the fact and when I began to urinate blood.”

“We must be advocates of our own health. “

One way that Gee is proactive about advocating for her health is through a book where she keeps all her records and notes about how she’s feeling. The book helps her to know what is “normal” for her. Her doctors benefit too.

“They appreciate it greatly. They ask me questions first before they call my other doctors. If something doesn’t seem right, I can tell them the last time or over a month how I’ve felt. Then everyone’s on the same page.”

She also makes sure to take someone with her to each appointment.

“When you hear cancer, you don’t hear a lot after that,” Gee said. “You need someone there who can listen when you can’t, who can ask questions you can’t at the present time, and who will be there to make sure everything is ok.”

After her nephrectomy, Gee returned to work perhaps too quickly, and perhaps worked too much, she said, but it’s her passion. More so now that she knows intimately what it’s like to need an answer or need help.

“I’ll take any call and if someone needs an answer, I say, ‘hold on, I’ll find out’,” Gee said. “I always tell my health story – it’s hard but you can keep going. If people see you go through kidney cancer and then see you out still making it, it’s kind of medicine for someone else.”

Follow Dawne on Twitter and Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Dawne Gee worked hard to get answers about her kidney cancer”

  1. Prayers for your Miracle. Your life has been such a light to others. May God give you extra strength to fight. Listen to the song Raise A Hallelujah it will comfort you.

  2. I had my left kidney removed in 2001 with renal cell carcinoma..In 2014 it regenerated and I now have Mastic kidney cancer on my Pancreas…3 tumors..I did have 1 now I have 3…So I know what your talking about when you say you grow tumors…I also have type 2 Diabetes
    I fight every day trying to keep my sugar under control…Dawne I have followed you for about 4yrs now…I know what your going thru….But you always have a beautiful smile on you face……Also I had two brothers to die from kidney cancer….I’m 72 yrs old…I fight everyday to think positive..I also have a brother who is still living and he’s 74 and had a kidney removed two years ago with kidney cancer….It’s a bad thing to have …But we still keep going and thank god for every day we have here on earth….

  3. Dawne you are awesome! I have seen you handing out money to those in need through “pass the cash.” I know you went to the home of my friend’s granddaughter shortly before she left this Earth, from Ewing’s Sarcoma, extending love, hope and prayers. You are such a force for good! You deserve the same love shown to you. Please know at my house, you are prayed for and highly revered. Sincerely, Effie Allen

  4. I’ve been going to my stomach dr for yrs with pain in my ribs it started with my right with liver enzymes high all the time went in to see nurse practitioner for meds I’m on for other problems told her about pain I had been having in left ribs she sent me for MRI an called with results saying I had a solid mass on my left kidney come to find out it in my left kidney an somewhat small but was found yrs ago an I’m just finding out about it the 1st wk of January still waiting on surgery but from tests in 2018 to 2019 it had grown having surgery next month really scared cant imagine why I hadn’t been told about it before now even if it started out small an hadn’t grown alot it still has grown they won’t know till its removed if its cancer an they are taking as far as I know part of my left kidney when they. remove it but why did they wait still dont understand you want to trust the drs but now I have fear of trusting some of them the waiting is the worst I wish you luck with your recovery and you are in my prayers

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