Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I missed it!

With all the hubbub over the weekend, and finding out yesterday morning that my best friend was in the hospital, I completely forgot that yesterday was the 21st anniversary of my pituitary surgery at NIH.

I even had a reminder on my calendar, a notice on the calendar section of the message boards, all kinds of places.  But it just slipped my mind.

Maybe this is a sign that I should somehow forget that I had Cushing's, that I should move on with my life as a "cured" Cushie.

My new life, in addition the the panhypopituitarism, involves kidney cancer and, for me anyway, that's a zebra disease.

I consider this a zebra disease because it's one that I shouldn't have had.

For one thing, I "should" have had colon cancer because both parents and an aunt had it twice each.  Of course, there's no guarantee that I won't get that, too.

Anyway, other "zebra" reasons are the risk factors for kidney cancer aka renal cell carcinoma.
The majority of kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas. Risk factors for renal cell carcinoma include:

  • Age. Your risk of renal cell carcinoma increases as you age. Renal cell carcinoma occurs most commonly in people 60 and older.

I was younger than this.

  • Sex. Men are more likely to develop renal cell carcinoma than women are.

I am female

  • Smoking. Smokers have a greater risk of renal cell carcinoma than nonsmokers do. The risk increases the longer you smoke and decreases after you quit.

Not me!

  • Obesity. People who are obese have a higher risk of renal cell carcinoma than do people who are considered average weight.

A Cushing's gift

  • High blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of renal cell carcinoma, but it isn't clear why. Some research in animals has linked high blood pressure medications to an increased risk of kidney cancer, but studies in people have had conflicting results.

Never had this until the kidney cancer.  It went away immediately post-op.

  • Chemicals in your workplace. Workers who are exposed to certain chemicals on the job may have a higher risk of renal cell carcinoma. People who work with chemicals such as asbestos, cadmium and trichloroethylene may have an increased risk of kidney cancer.

What?  Me work?.

  • Treatment for kidney failure. People who receive long-term dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure have a greater risk of developing kidney cancer. People who have a kidney transplant and receive immunosuppressant drugs also are more likely to develop kidney cancer.

Nope.  Some sites also list polycystic  kidney disease.  I don't have that but half my husband's family does.  Hmmm - wonder if that's contagious

  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease. People with this inherited disorder are likely to develop several kinds of tumors, including, in some cases, renal cell carcinoma.

I've wondered about this but, you know, it's too "rare".

  • Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma. Having this inherited condition makes it more likely you'll develop one or more renal cell carcinomas.

Not that I know of. 

So, yesterday after I went with DH to his doctor, I went to see my new zebra doctor - my kidney surgeon - for pain I've been having.  Over the summer he said if I "wanted" my CT scan earlier than my next visit, just let him know.  I've been having pain in my abdomen and he is sending me for the CT I requested.  Plus, he suggested I call my gastroenterologist just in case there's something happening in my colon. 

Oh no!  What if I finally get the disease I always felt I was destined to get?

But, like Scarlett O'Hara, I'll think about that another day and head off with DH to see his new surgeon...