Brian Mitsch is an underwriter who insures publicly traded companies or individuals who trade on the stock exchange at Travelers Insurance. He accidentally found out he had Kidney Cancer when he went in for a CT scan/MRI for some belly pain. It has been one year since he was first diagnosed he got a robotic partial nephrectomy in 2018 and is disease free.
His initial thoughts when he found out was: “I was scared. At 35 years of age, I was facing cancer.” He never thought he would be in this position in his life. It was hard to get his head around this. After having a second CT scan in the span of 6 months that showed a mass growing in his kidney and reading the CT report that said “possible renal cell carcinoma”, it was hard not to let his mind wander as to what the future might hold – “Is it possible it’s spread? What is the plan of action?”
Brian said, “I initially had a CT scan for lower right quadrant pain in December, 2017. It was there they found a mass in my left kidney. I was told to do a return scan in 4-6 months. I never thought it would be cancer and ignored the request to follow up, but the hospital kept calling to schedule. It was on April 30, 2018 that I went in for a follow-up scan around 3 pm. By 6 pm, I had a voicemail from my primary doctor, asking to call him back. I knew the results were not good.”
“He stated he was referring me to a urologist and they would likely want to take the mass out. I couldn’t read the CT Scan results fast enough myself where I read, ‘possible renal cell carcinoma’. I went for a run that night with my partner who kept trying to talk to me to get my mind off the results. I was in my own head and finally had to tell him to stop talking. When I finished my run that night I had a good cry because it was so overwhelming and scary.”
“It was May 16, 2018 when I saw the first urologist who told me it was likely 85-90% cancer. My best friend, Luke, went with me to this appointment. I scheduled surgery immediately following this appointment. Luke and I talked in the parking lot following the appointment and he assured me that I had been through worse in life before and that just like everything else, I would beat this too. Prior to this appointment, I hadn’t told anyone what I might be facing because there was still so much uncertainty. That night I went over to my parents to let them know I likely had kidney cancer and I cried again because I was scared and so young. I felt uneasy about having the open surgery for a partial nephrectomy.”
“Not long after this appointment, I spoke with my cousin, Dr. Jenn Keis, who got me connected with Dr. Christopher Weight. He made me feel so comfortable with surgery. His skill set allowed him to perform the surgery robotically. Surgery was done on July 31, 2018 at the U of M. 10% of my kidney was removed. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 RCC, Grade 1. Following surgery, I couldn’t believe how winded and sore I was. The first few days following surgery I had a hard time even walking a block without getting winded. I was out of work 6 weeks and even then still went back to work feeling exhausted. It felt like I was finally back to full strength in November, 2018. I recently had a one year cancer free CT scan on August 22, 2019.”
Brian is now cancer-free and loves to travel. He has been hitting the National Parks for the past 6 years with his parents every summer. They recently went to Ireland and are looking forward to exploring parks in the Southwest US next year. He plans to go to New Zealand next year. He also enjoys golfing as much as he can during the summer. He enjoys just being outside whether it’s walking, running or enjoying other sports. Additionally, he thoroughly enjoys spending time with his friends and families. He is grateful to have supporting parents, and his cousin Jenn who has been with him throughout this process. His best advice for newly diagnosed patients with Kidney Cancer is: “It is scary, but there are so many resources out there. Get a second opinion; there is nothing wrong with exploring options.”