Startled by a change in his urine color, 44-year-old Chapmann brought up his concern to his wife Cindy, who is an ER nurse. Cindy mentioned the idea of kidney stones and assured her husband that all was okay since he had no pain. However, Cindy also encouraged Chapmann to schedule a doctor appointment.
After returning home from a volleyball game later that night, Chapmann noticed yet another change to his urine – it was now a dark purplish grey color.
His primary care physician ordered blood work and an ultrasound. The bloodwork came back normal but Chapmann was asked to come in again quickly for a follow up. A four-centimeter mass was discovered on his left kidney and was consistent with renal cell carcinoma.
Chapmann was referred to a urologist and underwent a CT scan to confirm what the ultrasound results showed. Biopsies of the mass came back as being cancerous. The next step was to have his left kidney removed.
“The most difficult experience with kidney cancer was the mental health after surgery and the return to life,” Chapmann said. “I seemed to appreciate how life is grand, but when you go through challenges, it is surprising who shows up in your life to cheer you on and support you.”
Another challenge was how to explain to his young children what his diagnosis meat. Chapmann and Cindy decided to talk to his daughters right away. They were 10, 7, and 5 at the time.
“[We] were honest and allowed them to ask questions and digest the information,” Chapmann said. “My children have participated in the Terry Fox run for cancer research in their school and learned that this Canadian ran for cancer research with only one leg and he died from cancer that spread to his lungs. Logically my 10-year- old thought, ‘dad might have cancer, and Terry Fox died from cancer, so, when will Dad die?’”
The couple used books from the library to help their children understand what their dad faced over the next few months.
“We got a book from the local library that explained more about the process of cancer and this helped the children understand more about X-ray, CT, biopsy and surgery as a general overview,” Chapmann said.
His wife, kids, friends, and fellow volleyball players were his support systems during this time. Chapmann also credited his doctors, medical team, and his faith as a source of comfort and support no matter what he faced.
Today, Chapmann is healthy and enjoys being an advocate for The Terry Fox Foundation. He also supports others who have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, a group he lovingly refers to as the “kidney cancer club” where, he said, no one wants membership but is offered a unique badge of honor to wear. Chapmann shares his support through social media, particularly through his Instagram account.
“It’s okay to be scared and to be frightened and shocked, that there are many people who are on your side and who are cheering you on, like me. I want you to keep your hopes up and remember to celebrate each and every moment as you await treatment or results. Allow this cancer chapter to be hard and bitter, but when you are on the ‘survivor side’ be the champion for awareness and give back to those who may need your support.”