Today’s Cushing’s Awareness Challenge post is about kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma). You might wonder how in the world this is related to Cushing’s. I think it is, either directly or indirectly.
I alluded to this earlier ago when I said:
I finally started the Growth Hormone December 7, 2004.
Was the hassle and 3 year wait worth it?
Stay tuned for tomorrow, April 22, 2017 when all will be revealed.
So, as I said, I started Growth Hormone for my panhypopituitarism on December 7, 2004. I took it for a while but never really felt any better, no more energy, no weight loss. Sigh.
April 14, 2006, I went back to the endo and found out that the arginine test that was done in 2004 was done incorrectly. The directions were written unclearly and the test run incorrectly, not just for me but for everyone who had this test done there for a couple years. My endo discovered this when he was writing up a research paper and went to the lab to check on something.
So, I went off GH again for 2 weeks, then was retested. The “good news” was that the arginine test is only 90 minutes now instead of 3 hours.
Wow, what a nightmare my arginine retest started! I went back for that Thursday, April 27, 2006. Although the test was shorter, I got back to my hotel and just slept and slept. I was so glad that I hadn’t decided to go right home after the test.
Friday I felt fine and drove back home, no problem. I picked up my husband for a biopsy he was having and took him to an outpatient surgical center. While I was there waiting for the biopsy to be completed, I started noticing blood in my urine and major abdominal cramps.
There were signs all over that no cell phones were allowed so I sat in the restroom (I had to be in there a lot, anyway!) and I left messages for several of my doctors on what I should do. It was Friday afternoon and most of them were gone 🙁 I finally decided to see my PCP after I got my husband home.
When Tom was done with his testing, his doctor took one look at me and asked if I wanted an ambulance. I said no, that I thought I could make it to the emergency room ok – Tom couldn’t drive because of the anesthetic they had given him. I barely made it to the ER and left the car with Tom to park. Tom’s doctor followed us to the ER and instantly became my new doctor.
They took me in pretty fast since I was in so much pain, and had the blood in my urine. At first, they thought it was a kidney stone. After a CT scan, my new doctor said that, yes, I had a kidney stone but it wasn’t the worst of my problems, that I had kidney cancer. Wow, what a surprise that was! I was admitted to that hospital, had more CT scans, MRIs, bone scans, they looked everywhere.
My new “instant doctor” felt that he wasn’t up to the challenge of my surgery, so he called in someone else. My next new “instant doctor” came to see me in the ER in the middle of the night. He patted my hand, like a loving grandfather might and said: “At least you won’t have to do chemotherapy”. And I felt so reassured.
It wasn’t until later, much after my surgery, that I found out that there was no chemo yet that worked for my cancer. I was so thankful for the way he told me. I would have really freaked out if he’d said that nothing they had was strong enough!
My open radical nephrectomy was May 9, 2006 in another hospital from the one where the initial diagnosis was made. My surgeon felt that he needed a specialist from that hospital because he believed pre-op that my tumor had invaded into the vena cava because of its appearance on the various scans. Luckily, that was not the case.
My entire left kidney and the encapsulated cancer (10 pounds worth!) were removed, along with my left adrenal gland and some lymph nodes. Although the cancer (renal cell carcinoma AKA RCC) was very close to hemorrhaging, the surgeon believed he got it all.
He said I was so lucky. If the surgery had been delayed any longer, the outcome would have been much different. I repeated the CT scans every 3 months, just to be sure that there is no cancer hiding anywhere. As it turns out, I can never say I’m cured, just NED (no evidence of disease). This thing can recur at any time, anywhere in my body.
I credit the arginine re-test with somehow aggravating my kidneys and revealing this cancer. Before the test, I had no clue that there was any problem. The arginine test showed that my IGF is still low but due to the kidney cancer I couldn’t take my growth hormone for another 5 years – so the test was useless anyway, except to hasten this newest diagnosis.
So… either Growth Hormone helped my cancer grow or testing for it revealed a cancer I might not have learned about until later.
My five years are more than up now. In about 3 weeks I will be 12 years free of this cancer! My kidney surgeon *thinks* it would be ok to try the growth hormone again. My endo says maybe. I’m still a little leery about this, especially where I didn’t notice that much improvement.
The following is adapted from https://cushingsbios.com/2017/06/21/maryo-growth-hormone-update/…
May 4, 2017 ~ My endo at Hopkins and I talked about maybe trying growth hormone again. We tested my levels locally and – surprise – everything is low, again.
So, we started the insurance routine again. My insurance rejected the growth hormone I took last time around. I just love how someone, a non-doctor who doesn’t know me, can reject my person endocrinologist’s recommendation. My endo who specializes in Growth Hormone, who runs clinical trials for Johns Hopkins on “Control of growth hormone secretion, genetic causes of growth hormone deficiency, consequences of growth hormone deficiency.”
That insurance person has the power over the highly trained physician. Blows my mind.
But I digress. My doctor has agreed to prescribe Omnitrope, the insurance-guy’s recommendation.
June 14, 2017 ~ I got a call from my insurance. They “may” need more information from my doctor…and they need it in 72 hours.
My doctor’s nurse says that they have to refer this to their pharmacy.
June 15, 2017 ~ I got a call from the Omnitrope folks who said they will need approval from my insurance company <sigh> but they will send me a starter prescription of 30 days worth.
June 16, 2017 ~ I got a call from the Specialty Pharmacy. They’re sending the first month supply on Tuesday. Estimated co-pay is $535 a month. I may have to rethink this whole thing 😦 We sure don’t have an extra $6000.00 a year, no matter how much better it might make me feel.
June 19, 2017 ~ The kit arrived with everything but the actual meds and sharps.
June 20, 2017 ~ The meds and sharps arrived along with the receipt. My insurance paid nearly $600 – and they took my copay out of my credit card for $533.
I still have to wait for the nurse’s visit to use this, even though I’ve used it in the past.
I’ve been doing some serious thinking in the last 24 hours. Even if I could afford $533 a month for this, should I spend this kind of money on something that may, or may not, help, that may, or may not, give me cancer again. We could do a couple cruises a year for this much money. I’ve pretty much decided that I shouldn’t continue, even though I haven’t taken the first dose of this round.
April 22, 2018 – I have been on the GH for nearly a year. I don’t feel any better, any less tired, haven’t lost any weight. The only change I notice is that I find myself more chatty, and I don’t like that. I’m thinking of going off this again after I’ve given it a year.
What will happen?
What to do?