Craig Dowdy was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation at age 62. That meant regular checks for blood clots. During one such check, a tumor was found on Craig’s left kidney.
Having never had any kidney cancer symptoms, Craig underwent surgery to remove the left kidney and tumor removed in 2012. The tissue surrounding his tumor appeared to be cancer free but a few years later, spots appeared in his left lung.
Then 64, Craig was referred to an oncologist for the first time and started on high-dose interleukin II. “At 64, I was probably over the limit, but in good health,” Craig said, though he did stop treatment eventually due to distress to his remaining kidney and liver.
He has tried several different immunotherapies, switching when one became ineffective. Over the last 6 years, Craig said his cancer progression has remained relatively stable.
“Since 2018, I have been on a joint supervision by MD Anderson [Cancer Center in Houston, Texas] and my original oncologist in San Antonio. I get all my treatment blood work every 28 days in San Antonio and go to MD Anderson every three or four months for scans and evaluation,” Craig said.
Craig’s most recent treatment was Opdivo (nivolumab) infusions and Cabometyx (cabozantinib) tablets. The disease slowed to a standstill, he said, and his lesions seemed to show shrinkage.
Through the ups and downs in his journey, Craig always had his wife and his faith by his side. As an active member in his church, Craig participated in prayer group, Sunday school, and has served in a number of leadership positions in his church.
“My wife is Catholic. I’m Baptist. My kids are Methodist. It has been fulfilling to know that I have people in every church in town praying for me, including the ones that we aren’t members of,” Craig said.
Craig did wonder if he had done enough to ensure that all his business was in order and that his family would be supported without him. He worked to prepare enough for his family, but Craig still worried about affording his treatments.
Craig relied on the financial services departments of his treatment centers for guidance and said it was important to know that someone there to help patients and that they are not alone throughout the experience.
Craig credited his wife for making sure he kept up with his medications, watching for any new developments.
“My greatest means of support is my family. Number one is my wife. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. If I didn’t have her by my side, I wouldn’t make it,” said Craig.
Today, Craig’s cancer has faded into the background and he can focus on other aspects of his health.
“My worst problem is old age. I’ve decided since I’m going to be around for a while, to get some of these things worked on. None of this would have been possible without real faith in God, my family, and my church.”