Mar 30, 2022 Latest post:
Aug 21, 2022
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Hello Family and Friends,
As some of you likely know, Jennifer is being treated for a cancerous tumor in her right kidney. In the fall of 2021, she started having side, back and abdominal discomfort and just felt off. At that point she decided to make some adjustments to her already healthy diet, but this did not yield any improvement. Persistent pain got so bad that it led to additional doctor visits and tests. Through numerous appointments, CT scans, multiple biopsies and an MRI, Jen was diagnosed with clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (ccRCC) in early February, and it has been labeled aggressive. The CT scan that first showed the kidney tumor was around Feb 10th, so we are now coming up on about 6 weeks of understanding the root of her illness. At the time of the diagnosis she was still driving, going to the gym and walking the dog every day. She is no longer driving and spends her days trying to find a place to sit or lay where she can be comfortable. Now she is taking narcotics and tylenol to help with the pain. In addition to kidney cancer, the digestive tract also has some concerns; this we know from an endoscopy that was done. It showed inflammation (gastritis) in several portions of the GI tract - she has antibiotics, Protonix, and a liquid antacid for that. The tumor itself has basically taken the space of the right kidney. This mass will eventually need to be removed, along with what is left of that kidney.
We've been to Mayo Clinic, Rochester, twice to meet with their urology oncologists and to the University of Iowa, Iowa City to meet with their specialized team. These 2 groups of specialists have been collaborating on Jennifer's plan of care. We feel very confident about this team.
Jen's treatment began in early March at the University of Iowa with Immunotherapy infusion; these will be every three weeks. Immunotherapy is not chemotherapy, but is an infusion therapy designed to boost the body's natural immune response to the cancer. Today, March 28th, was her second of what will likely be 5 or 6 infusion treatments. Today's treatment, and the next few, will be in Des Moines. After the initial 5 or 6 treatments, she will have another CT scan to see how the tumor has responded. At that time they will decide if the tumor is ready for surgical intervention, or if more treatments are necessary.
I will be using the Caring Bridge platform to provide progress and updates. Thanks to all for sending positive thoughts and well wishes.