Just days before his 69th birthday, Patrick McMahon decided he needed to go to the emergency room in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He just hadn’t felt well for months. Even last year when he underwent surgery for Prostate Cancer, he didn’t feel much better. Now almost 9 months later, he still felt fatigued and his doctors couldn’t figure out why. But now, in addition to the fatigue, he also had new sudden chest pain.
When he got to the emergency department, they checked for a heart attack with a blood test and EKG and that was negative, so they scanned his chest and found that he had some clots in his lungs called pulmonary emboli or PE’s for short. Usually PEs come from blood clots that form in the legs and then come loose and lodge in the lungs. But his legs showed no clots. So his doctors got an echo of his heart and this showed a mass in the right atrium. This prompted further scans which demonstrated the mass came all the way from his right kidney, through the vena cava, liver, diaphragm and into the heart!
He was transferred to the University of Minnesota, where a team of urology, liver, and cardiovascular surgery was rapidly put together to perform the necessary surgery to remove this tumor and tumor thrombus in his heart just before he turned 69. In order to remove a tumor like this, Patrick had to get a Mercedes incision. It goes from the notch at the bottom of the neck, through the sternum towards the belly button. Then about 4 inches above the bellybutton the incision splits to the right and the left following the curves of the ribs kind of like a Mercedes sign. This incision is normally very sore, but upon waking up from surgery, Patrick noticed immediately that he was feeling better with that cancer gone. That tumor had been zapping his energy and his body’s resources and once gone, despite a major incision, he felt relief.
Because Patrick required open heart surgery to remove his tumor, he went to the cardiac ICU. But after one day he was feeling so much better that he was deemed safe to transfer to the regular floor. Patients are usually transferred in a bed because they are too weak to even sit up, let alone stand or walk. If they’re doing really well, maybe they will be transferred in a wheelchair, but not Patrick. He insisted on walking out of the ICU and he did! The nurses and doctors were amazed! Patrick was just excited about being rid of that crappy cancer and getting his life back!
Patrick is now back home and getting better every day. He’s happy to ‘travel’ to the Canadian Rockies in the pocket’s of the climb 4 kidney cancer team.