Understanding Kidney Cancer
- Just two months after Regina Stock was crowned Mrs America 2023 she was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
- The 27-year-old mom of four and west Texan received her diagnosis after doctors discovered a mass on her left kidney last month. Despite the news, Stock is maintaining hope and looking forward to her next competition.
- Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the disease Regina stock is battling, “is the most common malignant tumor of the kidney and constitutes over 90 percent of all renal malignancies.”
- Overcoming adversity can seem daunting. However, focusing on the following steps can help you make a meaningful change: set a goal, make a plan, rely on others, and use positive self-talk.
- Remember, when faced with a cancer battle or health struggle it can be hard to focus on life outside of your disease. But it’s important to remember that your mental state can actually impact your success as a patient.
Stock revealed in a recent video shared to Instagram that doctors discovered a mass on her left kidney last month that’s 14cm by 14cm by 13 cm, later confirming she had kidney cancer.
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She explained in her health update video, “The good news is, is that he [her doctor] is confident that we could just go in with surgery and take it all out and be done with it.
“Since the mass is so big, I am not a candidate for robotic surgery, so it will be an open surgery. And he said I’ll have a scar from like the top of my abs down to my side, but that’s ok because I camouflage scars, so I can deal with that.”
The pageant queen called her diagnosis “good news” and expects her surgery to take place in a few weeks. If her surgery does take place soon, it will allow her to heal in time to have a month of preparation for the Mrs. World competition.
She continued, “It will be six weeks of no working and not lifting anything more than a gallon of milk after surgery … but this is the best case scenario so we’re pretty happy with the outcome of everything despite the diagnosis.”
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A GoFundMe page, set up in support for Stock and her family by former Mrs. America titleholders, has since raised nearly $10,000 of its $60,000 goal.
The fundraising page explains, “Our sister, Regina, is a wife and mother of a beautiful blended family with four children. She and her husband are both self-employed.
“Regina needs immediate surgery to remove the cancerous mass and kidney to prevent her prognosis from worsening. This unexpected challenge will leave Regina and her husband out of work for a substantial amount of time as they will have to travel for treatment and additional time for recovery.
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“We humbly ask for your assistance in any way possible. Your donations, no matter how small, will make an immense difference in their lives,” the GoFundMe reads. “These generous contributions will go directly towards easing the financial burden caused by medical expenses, treatment, everyday bills and accommodations for her recovery.”
The former titleholders praised the raining Mrs. America as “not just a fighter,” but also “the embodiment of strength, resilience and empathy.”
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Learning About Kidney Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, 81,800 people across the U.S. are expected to have kidney cancer, a disease which can develop in both adults and children, this year.
“The main types of kidney cancer are renal cell cancer, transitional cell cancer, and Wilms tumor,” the institute explains, noting that some “inherited conditions” may increase a person’s risk of getting the disease.
Luckily, advancement in kidney cancer treatment has proven effective for people battling the disease.
The institute states, “NCI-funded researchers are working to advance our understanding of how to detect and treat kidney cancer. Much progress has been made over the last few decades, especially in identifying genes that can drive the development of kidney cancer.
“This knowledge has led to more effective treatments. Today, about 75% of people with kidney cancer will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.”
As for renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the disease Regina stock is battling, it “is the most common malignant tumor of the kidney and constitutes over 90 percent of all renal malignancies.”
It’s unclear what stage cancer stock is battling, but according to the National Cancer Institute, the following types of treatment are used for someone battling renal cell carcinoma:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials
Overcoming adversity like Regina Stock is doing can seem daunting. But the experts we spoke with say focusing on the following steps can help you make meaningful change.
- Set a goal. No matter what the situation, create a new goal for yourself. If you have just been diagnosed with cancer or a chronic illness, perhaps one goal would be to educate yourself about the disease and the possible treatments as much as possible.
- Make a plan. How will you achieve this goal? Your plan will help you focus on that goal. Dr. Siddhartha Ganguly refers to this determined, focused mindset as “the eye of the tiger,” which can help people dealing with health problems, such as renal cell carcinoma and other cancers. “You have to have the eye of the tiger to go through this grueling process that is necessary these days to get rid of these virulent and aggressive cancers,” Dr. Ganguly, a cancer specialist at Houston Methodist, told SurvivorNet.
- Rely on others. Spend time with people who show you unconditional support and encouragement. They will ease your stress and help you remember that you’re not alone in this!” Dr. Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist and author, previously told SurvivorNet that one “coping strategy that can be productive is reaching out, talking to others. Having support we know is really critical in the healing process.”
- Use positive self-talk. Leave messages with affirmations in places you frequent. Put notes around your mirror or the computer screen that says “You got this!” or “Keep going!” Cut out inspirational quotes from people you admire and surround yourself with their words. Dr. Boardman explains to SurvivorNet that “Positive emotions have unique benefits above and beyond managing negative emotions.”
We’re delighted to see Regina Stock to be going into this cancer journey with positivity and optimism.
Finding Joy Outside of Cancer
When faced with a cancer battle it can be hard to focus on life outside of your disease. But it’s important to remember that your mental state can actually impact your success as a patient.
“I’m pretty good at telling what kind of patients are going to still have this attitude and probably going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease,” Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet. “And those are patients who, they have gratitude in life.”
Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecologic oncologist at Arizona Oncology, also advocates for cancer warriors to prioritize their mental health. She noted that emotional well-being has been studied as a factor in patient outcomes.
“We know from good studies that emotional health is associated with survival, meaning better quality of life is associated with better outcomes,” Dr. Chase told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
“So, working on your emotional health, your physical well-being, your social environment [and] your emotional well-being are important and can impact your survival,” she explained.
“If that’s related to what activities you do that bring you joy, then you should try to do more of those activities.”
There are no right or wrong answers, but Dr. Chase says doing things that bring you joy is important.
She recommends writing down ten things that make you happy and intentionally making the time to do those activities throughout the day.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff