Bruce Hill, a kidney cancer patient, patient advocate, and member of the KCA’s Patient and Caregiver Advisory Council, was featured in the spring issue of Cancer Today, the American Association for Cancer Research’s quarterly magazine. Bruce described his long road to an accurate stage IV clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) diagnosis and subsequent treatment with immunotherapy:
The first clue that something was amiss with Bruce Hill’s health came at the end of 2014, when a routine blood test showed anemia. Anemia is unusual in a seemingly healthy 44-year-old man, so Hill’s primary care doctor in New York’s Hudson Valley referred him to a hematologist, who ordered more blood tests, and a gastroenterologist, who ordered an endoscopy and colonoscopy to check for internal bleeding that could possibly explain the low red blood cell count.
When the search for a cause turned up empty, Hill’s hematologist put him on an iron supplement for 12 weeks, which brought his red blood cell count back up to a normal level. His primary care doctor gave him a clean bill of health at his annual office visits in 2015 and again in 2016. By early 2017, though, Hill felt tired and run down. Suddenly, the typically energetic and active husband and father of two found himself struggling to keep up on the hikes he and his family normally enjoyed taking together. He made another appointment to see his doctor
“I walked in and she said, ‘You’re anemic again,’” Hill says. “She could tell just by looking at me.”
Along with the mysterious return of his anemia, Hill started experiencing night sweats. Over the next few months, he began losing weight and was nagged by a sharp, stabbing pain in his back. Ultrasound and CT scans revealed the answer that had almost certainly lurked undetected two years before: a more than 10-centimeter tumor, larger than a baseball, in Hill’s right kidney. Several small spots also showed up in his lungs. Hill had stage IV clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC), a type of kidney cancer. He had no time to waste and few, if any, choices to make.
“At the time, if you had a [kidney] tumor, it was pretty much ‘let’s get it out’ and then figure out what to do next,” Hill says.
Read the full piece covering how kidney cancer treatment options expanded over the last three decades, the art of treatment selection for maximum efficacy, and what lies ahead for people with kidney cancer, including Bruce: More Ways to Treat Advanced Kidney Cancer.