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This is a guest post by Frances Mora, 39. Frances lives in Miami.

We are quickly approaching the one-year mark, when I received the shock of a lifetime. I had just given birth to my son and I was trying to get back on track with my fitness journey. After a friend told me about wood therapy and how it could help with eliminating stubborn fat, I figured why not give it a try? It was an intense session, and as the therapist was massaging my abdomen, she detected a large lump on my left side below my rib cage. She informed me right away that whatever she felt wasn’t supposed to be there. I felt it too, and instantly began to panic.  

So many thoughts raced through my mind. How had I not noticed this before? How long had it been there? My anxiety level went from zero to 100. At that moment, I literally felt as if my whole world had flipped upside down. To say that I was a nervous wreck would be understatement. 

A couple of days later, I went to my doctor, and she ordered a CT scan  right away. When my doctor called me the following day to come in for the results of the CT scan, I knew something was terribly wrong. 

“I think the worst part of this experience was the waiting – worrying about the unknown and the infinite possibilities that plague your every waking moment.”

The next day, my husband and 6-month-old son accompanied me to my appointment to get the results of my CT scan.  That office visit was probably one of the most frightening days of my life. As the doctor read off the results, she informed me that I had a 5.4 centimeter mass on my kidney.

Truthfully, at that point, I could no longer hear her. It was as if I was trapped in a room with white noise. Hearing the size of the mass left me paralyzed with fear. Looking down at my little boy, I knew I had to be strong, whatever that meant. 

That same day, I was referred to the urology department for an MRI to confirm the results of the CT scan. At night, I would lie awake with mixed emotions varying from anger, fear, despair, and hope (especially knowing my little one needs me). I think the worst part of this experience was the waiting – worrying about the unknown and the infinite possibilities that plague your every waking moment. The stress was debilitating and took away my ability to be present.  

After some weeks, my MRI finally came back mirroring the same information as the CT scan. I was then referred to oncologist, whom I was told was a rock star. On my first visit, Dr. Ritch at the University of Miami, he made me feel comfortable and explained all the possible outcomes. Though some were more favorable than others, I felt like I was in good hands. 

I scheduled my surgery for October 3rd and did whatever I could to keep my head on straight. I did a lot of meditation and positive self-talk. On my roughest days where I could barely keep it together, I just kept repeating my mantra – “everything is going to be okay”. I got a lot of support from family and friends, and I tried my best to avoid dwelling on the sea of “what ifs”.

I had my surgery and luckily was able to keep much of my kidney. My doctor performed a partial nephrectomy and said it went well. 

A few days after my surgery, my  doctor called and said the news wasn’t bad. My pathology came back as a “clear cell papillary renal cell tumor”.  He also mentioned that this newer subtype was known to not metastasize. Hearing those words was heaven sent. 

“I have learned many great lessons – to be more grateful for each day, to cherish the present, and to ask for help from others because I can’t do it alone.”

Trust me when I say say my recovery was no bed of roses, but not being able to care for my son for nearly two months post-surgery was the hardest. Thankfully my sister-in-law, mother, and best friend helped with the care of my baby until I was able to get back on my feet. 

Many nights as I prayed, I pondered why I was going through this, especially after just giving birth. But one day it came to me, the love I had for my son gave me the strength that I needed to persevere and move forward. 

Being diagnosed with cancer at 39 was shocking, but I am learning more and more that cancer isn’t something that just affects the elderly population anymore. I learned that this can happen to anyone. I took care of myself, I ate right, and did all the things I’m supposed to do. I have learned many great lessons – to be more grateful for each day, to cherish the present, and to ask for help from others because I can’t do it alone. Most importantly, I understand that my being strong and independent doesn’t mean I am immune to fear.

My experience has taught me to cherish every moment with my son. I make sure to give him longer and deeper embraces because I know tomorrow isn’t promised. As such, I focus my energy in living in the moment rather than worrying about things that are out of my control.  

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2 thoughts on “Frances Mora’s kidney cancer journey”

  1. Thank you for sharing these positive stories. I started my target drug today and my immunotherapy drug on Wednesday. I’ve been trying to stay very positive and pray a lot. I’m spending time with people who make me laugh…I don’t have a lot of time or reason not to try to smile! I’m very scared…my kidney was removed in October and now, the cancer has spread to s lymph node on my lung. Lots of prayers for us all. Thank you sharing;)

  2. Thanks for sharing your journey! My husband was 39 also when they found his tumor. We had a baby on the way and twin three year olds. My daughter was one week old when they removed his kidney. It was a whirlwind to say the least. Take care!

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