My First Visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering

Good evening everyone!  It’s been a very long day at Sloan Kettering but I am now in the system, have met my surgeon and oncologist and know that I am in the best of hands.  I was surely hoping that I was going to the hospital today, surgery would be next week, and the doctors would then say have a fun life. 

Unfortunately reality hit the fan and I was very dissapointed initially.  Dr Paul Russo is a darling man with phenomonal bedside manner.   His plan is as follows: 1) It will take ten days to schedule, but a biopsy is essential to determine what kind of cancer cells are present in order to use the correct treatment. 2) Ten days after the biopsy, we should have some idea what kind of cancer I really have. 3) A port will be placed in my chest for chemo since my veins are really tired from all the testing. 4) Even though there is a tumor in my kidney, the kidney is functioning and the lower part is healthy.  Dr. Russo would like to use the kidney to help circulate the chemo, possibly shrink the tumor, and put less stress on the healthy kidney.  5) Hopefully my body will respond to the chemo and I may only lose 1/2 a kidney.  Even though we have 2 kidneys, 1 1/2 is better than just one. 

I am so fortunate that all other organs are working well and unaffected.  We pray that I respond to whatever chemo is necessary and that we have a plan that is working for my specific disease. Needless to say, I need to go to sleep so I can go to work and enjoy my babies tomorrow at school.  Thanks and love to all of you who are caring, praying, and giving me the emotion support to get through each hour.  

The diagnosis

After a week of discomfort in the area of the gallbladder, Debbi underwent a series of scans that ultimately found cancer in her right kidney. The cancer was confirmed by a PET scan performed at Park Avenue Radiologists in Manhattan on 3/12. A summary of their findings:

  • A hypermetabolic right upper pole renal mass (SUV 6.5 peripherally, 4.3 x 5.8 x 5.2 cm in AP transverse and CC dimensions). No similar hypermetabolism in the right renal vein or IVC.
  • A hypermetabolic solitary aortocaval lymph node (SUV average 4.2, 1.4 x 1.0 x 1.1 cm in AP and transverse dimensions). No hypermetabolic perirenal lymph nodes noted.
  • A solitary hypermetabolic lytic lesion in the left scapula at the junction of the coracoid base and the glenoid (SUV average 4.0, 1.2 x 1.1 x 1.2 cm in AP, transverse and CC dimensions).

Thankfully, the left kidney, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and adrenal glands are all normal.Today, Monday 3/17, at 4:30pm , Debbi is having an MRI on her left scapula to investigate the lesion there. In the meantime, an appointment with Dr. Paul Russo, FACS, a specialist in kidney tumor surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday 3/18 at 1:00pm at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We are hoping that in short order, the right kidney and the involved lymph node will be removed and then we will focus on the left scapula and on the healing process.