A grateful patient with kidney cancer explains his Mayo Clinic experience, from confirmation of a large tumor on his right kidney to surgical removal of the kidney (nephrectomy) and follow-up care.

A grateful patient: My wife insisted that we go to Mayo. That doctor then set us up for bone scan, brain scan. And while we were waiting on the results of that, he was trying to contact -- he said he had a friend that worked in Dr. Leibovich's office. And spent all weekend trying to contact him. And Monday morning, the Mayo called me to see what time I wanted an appointment for Tuesday morning. So we got diagnosed on Wednesday -- Tuesday. I think on a Tuesday. We got diagnosed on a Tuesday and by the following Tuesday, we were up here on appointments.

After I was diagnosed, probably the first 10 days to two weeks, I was fairly depressed, as I suppose most people are. We got up here. We met with Dr. Leibovich. He says, well, first, before we do anything, what did your doctor tell you? And you know, we tell him the story. The hometown doctor, the long face, the whole bit. He says, well, let me tell you. He says you've got a big tumor. He says, but I've seen a lot bigger. And he says, your doctors at home see this two or three times a year. He said, I see it every day. Puts you right at ease. Hit it off right off the bat. And by the time we went home, I decided, actually started writing a book called it, It is What It Is. Kind of let that go by the wayside, though. But decided I wasn't going to let it bother me. I said, the only way cancer beats you is if you give in to it. And so I just said, I'm going to live the way I am. And I said, even if I end up dying from this thing, it ain't going to beat me. I'm going to be who I am, live the way I am. It is what it is. I got the best doctors. And the only thing I can do is find the best doctors, which we believe we've done. Being in the Mayo, we think they are the finest doctors in the world. And beyond that, it's in God's hands. I have no control over that. So I gave up worrying about it after about 10 days to two weeks. Went back to work.

Well, we talked, when we got up here, about the surgery. Dr. Leibovich didn't seem to be in a big hurry to have to do it. We worked with oncology, Dr. Dronca, and they thought we should try medicines and find out which medicine is going to work. Because then, if you know what medicine is going to work before you have the surgery, then when you get out of surgery, you don't have to spend a lot of time figuring out what medicine is going to work and you can get right back on medicine. So we did two cycles of the Sutent first and it seemed to be holding everything stable. So then we went ahead and did the surgery where they had to remove my right kidney, like 75% of one adrenal gland, 70% of the left adrenal gland, fatty tissue around the kidney and 28 lymph nodes. Dr. Leibovich sent the lymph nodes out to pathology and had the results back before he closed me up -- that it was not in the lymph nodes. It's still in the lungs, it's what we're battling now. But he got me closed up. Shortly after I came to out of surgery, they said, well, the sooner you get up and get walking, the sooner you go home. I said, well, give me a hand, let's get out of this bed. Had surgery on Thursday and I was home Monday. And four weeks after the surgery, we came back up for follow-up scans. And they said at that point, my immune system, with all the tumors gone, that my immune system had kicked in and the spots in my lungs had already started to shrink even being off the medicine. Now I'm back up for a three-month scan after that and they're telling me that the spots are getting smaller. They're still shrinking and some of the spots may have even disappeared already.

I hit it off with Dr. Leibovich that right away. And actually don't know what the kicker was that really got her going. But I told him if everything turned out, I was going to get his name tattooed on my back. And after the kidney cancer, after the surgery and everything, I decided to go ahead and get the kidney cancer ribbon. And on the ribbon, it has my diagnose date. And then also on the other side of the ribbon, it has Remission and the date is blank. But then underneath, we put "Tumors removed by Dr. Brad Leibovich." My biggest worry was that I got his name spelled right. When you get a tattoo, it's personal. It means something to you and sharing it with Dr. Leibovich and you guys up here is great.

Aug. 11, 2023