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This is a guest post by Mariah Jeske, 28, who has a family history of kidney cancer and Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome. She lives in Wisconsin.

My family leaned on our faith, the support of family and friends, and the support of each other when we found out my dad, Dean Jeske, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2012.

Dad was a hard-working man. A union carpenter, he was very handy and went out of his way to help any and everyone who needed help building or fixing something. When he wasn’t working, he was relaxing and spending time outdoors with my mom, Donna, myself, and my younger sister Marley.

Dad had two different types of kidney cancer in both kidneys, papillary renal cell carcinoma type 2 and chromophobe renal cell carcinoma. He had two surgeries in 2012 to remove the tumors from his kidneys. The surgeries were a success and the tumors were fully removed! By March of 2013, my dad was feeling great and even ran a 10K but by August of 2013, he had to go in for an emergency surgery as there were tumors on his small intestine. The papillary renal cell carcinoma type 2 had come back in full force.

In September of 2013, dad went in for genetic testing at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland. He was told he had a genetic disorder called Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome (BHD). There are only about 100 families or 2000 people worldwide with this syndrome, so Marley and I had to get tested for this gene as well.

I was 17 at the time and Marley was 13. We each had a 50% chance of having this gene. Blood samples went off for testing and a few weeks later, the results were back. I was positive for BHD and Marley was negative. Normally, if a younger patient is found to have BHD, they would start monitoring it when they turn 20 years old. I had an MRI right away because of my family history having kidney cancer.

My dad was put on different forms of chemotherapy drugs throughout 2014 in hopes of slowing down the spread of his aggressive cancer. Through many tough days, hard phone calls from insurance denying the drugs, and scary thoughts; the Jeske family leaned on their faith to guide them through this process.

Dad had good days and bad days and by the end of March 2015, the bad days were outweighing the good. The chemotherapy drugs that were slowing down his cancer were evidently too much for his body to handle. Dad passed away on April 12th, 2015 at home, with his whole family surrounding him.

I think about my father every single day; especially when I have to go in for my yearly kidney, lung, and bladder scan. I receive an MRI every 5 years and an ultrasound every year in between. I’ll be starting in a new program at Froedtert Hospital & the Medical College of Wisconsin. There, I will be part of a genetic disorder study and learning more about Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome. Any information that can be found from BHD and kidney cancer will help those in the future. I miss my father every day, but I am so thankful we learned about Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome so my family members and myself can be monitored for it.

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1 thought on “Faith, Family, Friends – That is the motto in Mariah Jeske’s life”

  1. Mariah, Thank you for such a touching blog regarding what your family has gone through. I hope that through monitoring and new technologies that you and your sister will both be OK . sincerely, Brenda

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