A Benevolent Heart Spawns Cancer Journey
- A man, 64, attempting to donate his kidney to a family friend, discovers he has kidney cancer after a tumor the size of an avocado was found on his kidney. He soon underwent surgery to treat the cancer that was still in its early stages, meaning it was easier to treat.
- Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. Common symptoms of kidney cancer include blood in the urine, persistent pain in your side, unexplained weight loss, or a lump in your abdomen.
- Coping with a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most daunting hurdles you’ve faced in your life. Experts tell SurvivorNet that leaning into your support group, keeping a journal, and a mental health professional are all effective ways to help you cope.
- Patients are encouraged to seek a support group, talk to a mental health professional, and keep their support team connected with your care team.
An Illinois grandfather, 64, wanted to help his family friend with a lifesaving kidney transplant. However, while undergoing tests to determine if he’d be a suitable kidney donor, Pat O’Shaughnessy discovered he had kidney cancer.
“My wife and I were both in a bit of shock,” O’Shaughnessy told “Today.”Read More
“Your situation tugged at my heart,” O’Shaughnessy told Hess.
Hess was grateful, adding, “It speaks volumes to the type of person that he is.”
O’Shaughnessy underwent several tests to determine if he was healthy enough to donate his kidney. During testing, doctors discovered the 64-year-old had a tumor the size of an avocado on his kidney.
O’Shaughnessy and his wife were startled by the unexpected cancer diagnosis; however, the silver lining was it was in its early stages, meaning it would be easier to treat.
“I was extremely disappointed that I failed in my mission to get that kidney to Perry,” O’Shaughnessy said, but he also knew he needed to turn his attention to his own health.
O’Shaughnessy successfully underwent surgery for treatment without needing chemotherapy or radiation.
Meanwhile, Hess is still awaiting a kidney donor but is beyond grateful for the selflessness of his family friend.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, common symptoms of kidney cancer include blood in the urine, persistent pain in your side, unexplained weight loss, or a lump in your abdomen.
Treatment for kidney cancer may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy. Your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment after evaluating your cancer’s stage, your overall health, and other factors that could be found through next-generation sequencing.
Helping Patients Cope with an Unexpected Diagnosis
Coping with an Unexpected Diagnosis
When you are diagnosed with cancer, feelings of fear and anxiety are completely normal. Luckily for O’Shaughnessy, he had his family and friends to lean on for emotional support through his shocking kidney cancer diagnosis.
WATCH: Maintaining a Positive Headspace
SurvivorNet experts recommend four tips for women diagnosed with breast cancer to better cope with their emotions during this difficult stage of the journey.
- Let your family and close friends know and let them help. After a diagnosis, you’re often faced with a ton of emotions and need help. It would be best to encourage people close to you to jump in with whatever practical help they can offer.
- Keep a journal. Many cancer warriors have shared with SurvivorNet that keeping a journal is an effective tool for acknowledging your feelings and emotions.
- Join a cancer support group. There is a good chance someone else is facing what you are facing or has been through this emotional leg of the journey before. Support groups in nearly every community offer opportunities to connect with others going through a similar journey. You’ll learn constructive insight from others who can tell you about what to expect and how to stay strong on tough days.
- Seek professional help from a therapist. Ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist so you can discuss your fears and concerns in a safe space. Vocalizing your thoughts and feelings rather than bottling them inside can be therapeutic.
Building Support During Your Journey
If you were recently diagnosed with cancer, you likely know about the wide range of emotions that news can bring. This is one of the most challenging phases of the cancer journey to overcome.
However, during these early stages, a team of supporters can be most helpful. Your supporters can be made up of close family members and friends. Your support group can also be filled with people outside your inner circle.
“But for people who feel like they need a little bit more, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional,” she added.
One of the benefits of having supporters includes helping alleviate stress and anxiety following your diagnosis. Supporters can also help advocate for you during treatment.
Sometimes, it is not always easy to share news you have cancer, even among loved ones. You can seek a trained professional to center your support group around such instances. Mental health professionals can help fill this space because many are trained to help you navigate your cancer treatment.
“Make sure that the mental health professional that you work with is reaching out with your consent to the rest of your team, to the oncologist, to the surgeon. It can also be helpful to reach out to family, friends, and any other caretakers that may be involved in the person’s treatment,” Dr. Plutchik said.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Where can I seek additional support if I am struggling mentally?
- Are there any support groups in the area for people like me?
- Can you recommend a mental health professional for my situation?
- Does my situation warrant medication for my mental health, and how might that affect my cancer treatment plan?