I was admitted to hospital just before Christmas and had the operation. The most worrying time I found was waiting to go into the operating theatre. I arrived early in the morning and got dressed in the gown and tight socks ready but didn’t go in until the afternoon. Once I came to, after the anaesthetic had worn off, I was on a ward and able to get up and walk around without too much pain the next day. As it was coming up to Christmas I think they were trying to empty the ward as quickly as possible and I was sent home after four nights. The operation left a small scar about 10 cm long across my stomach and a couple of other small 1 cm scars but nothing major.
I was then referred to Frimley Park Hospital for the kidney and was told that they recommended a robot assisted partial nephrectomy. I returned in April to have this carried out. This was again keyhole surgery but this time it was undertaken by a remote controlled robot and it removed a 4cm clear cell renal carcinoma from my kidney. I must have looked worried again when I was waiting to go into the operating theatre as the surgeon kindly told me not to worry as they would take good care of me; which I though was a nice personal touch.
When I woke up on the ward I felt fine and a neighbouring patient told me I was lucky to be in my bed because the previous occupier had put a lot of credit on the TV which I would be able to use! However, the doctor came round later on and said I could go home the next day which was great but I never got to use it! Once I returned home the pain came and my body turned various shades of purple around the wound. This took several days to subside and left several small scars, each 3-4 cm long on my left side above my hip. No stitches were used or dressings on either operation so the wounds healed quite quickly.
I was advised to take things easy for six weeks which was difficult as I am a fairly active person and as soon as this was up I started playing tennis and cycling again with no difficulty although I am still not going flat out 100% but will be building up to it over the next few months.
I heard about Penny Brohn UK at a cancer open day at St Richard’s Hospital where cancer patients were invited to hear about the various community services available in the district. I listened to a speaker from Penny Brohn UK talk on the charity and what they did and thought it sounded very interesting. I decided to attend a Living Well course at the National Centre, near Bristol. My wife, who had become a carer by default, came with me. It was a residential two-day course and covered many different aspects of life with cancer.
I was having difficulty coming to terms with having cancer as it had all happened so suddenly and I had previously been luckily in good health. Penny Brohn UK helped me put things in perspective and helped me adjust to the aftershock of having been diagnosed with cancer and having gone through two major operations one after the other. The shock of being diagnosed had left me with anxiety and difficulty sleeping; both of which Penny Brohn UK helped me to address through relaxation and mindfulness techniques. After attending the course I felt more at ease with myself and was able to sleep better. I left with good intentions about changing to a healthy diet, doing more exercise and getting more involved in my local community.
One of the great things about attending the Living Well course was meeting other people who all had different experiences and came from different walks of life all over the country and to discuss the issues with them. It made me feel that it wasn’t just me and that it can happen to anyone at any time. I realised how lucky I was to have been diagnosed relatively early and hopefully the surgery will have removed the cancer; although there is always the worry that it will come back. But if it does, it is good to know that there are organisations such as Penny Brohn UK which can be relied upon for support and help when you need it most.