Sean Ehlinger Sean Ehlinger's Journey

First post: 8/29/2017 Latest post: 9/27/2017
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I was diagnosed with stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma on June 25, 2017, only a week and a half after my 40th birthday.  I had been experiencing left hip pain since November 2016 and was being seen by Physical Therapy for this.  The pain was not getting better and I ended up going to the ER to try to figure out what was going on.  An MRI was ordered and the results came back that I had Kidney Cancer on my right kidney and it spread down my spine (L3, L4, S1, S2, S3) and out to my bilateral hips.  I was admitted to the hospital for follow on care.  The next day, I had a CT scan of my chest abdomen and pelvis and a bone biopsy on my left hip.  The results from that came back and there were 4 lymph nodes around my lungs that were involved and the biopsy confirmed that it was Renal Cell Carcinoma of a high grade (meaning that it is very aggressive).  I met with Dr. Rana, my oncologist and he wanted to first get the pain under control through radiation and plan for follow on treatment with a Terosine Kinase Inhibitor or cell targeted therapy.  I then met with  Dr. Olsen, the oncology radiologist, and came up with a plan to get the hip tumor under control. 

I was then released from the hospital and began radiation treatments on the hip.  After 5 sessions, my pain was under control and I had a follow up visit with Dr. Rana.  He referred me to a surgeon in Denver (Dr. Maroni) to consult for kidney removal.  Dr. Maroni concurred with the plan for surgery and had me speak with Dr. Lam, the urology oncologist, who recommended a clinical trial upon completion of surgery that consisted of 2 arms: 1) Sutent (a TKI) or, 2) Inlyta (a TKI) with Avelumab (an immunotherapy).  I had time to think about this as I was not able to participate until after the surgery.  A week later, I had my surgery to remove my right kidney and 3 lymph nodes.  Recovery was painful, but not excruciating.  I spent 3 days in the hospital and then was released.  I spent a lot of time researching kidney cancer treatments to try to make the most informed decision.  I had a follow up appointment with Dr. Maroni and learned from the biopsy of the kidney, the subtype that I have is very rare (Translocation Carcinoma) and it mostly affects pediatric patients or young adults.  I decided to go with the clinical trial, hoping to get the immunotherapy arm.  In the end, I ended up getting the Sutent arm.  I was dreading this because Sutent tends to have some pretty bad side effects.  After speaking with Dr. Lam, I am hopeful that this treatment works on getting the cancer under control.  I have now been on Sutent 10 days and so far haven't had any side effects.  I know that they will probably come in some form, but right now I feel great.  Please pray for me and my family (wife and 4 boys) during this time for healing and peace.  I know that God is with me on this journey and I ask him everyday for healing.  I will keep you updated and things progress.

I want to thank everyone for their support and prayers from the very beginning.  I am blown away by your love and generosity.  Thank you!!

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