Over the next few months I felt much better. The pain and the scars from the surgery were in the process of healing. I was still out of work due to the prior wrist injury. My wife found a full time job, and I make Mr. Domestic. I prepared the meals for my family, did the laundry, and went grocery shopping. All seemed right in my world for the time being. Then in November of 2013, things took a different turn. I began coughing more often during this time. This cough, however, was different. These latest coughing episodes would produce blood in the sputum. At first, I was a little worried. I made an appointment with my doctor and after seeing him, he said that it might be bronchitis. Then a few days later I had a coughing fit that produced even more blood in the sputum. Then I decided to go to the emergency room for a second opinion. The doctor in the ER had me do an MRI. She told me after seeing the images that she suspected the kidney cancer was back and had spread to both lungs. My regular doctor got these results and apologized for missing this possibility. At this point I was very worried and what this would mean for me and my family.
The last week of December of 2013, the staff at the hospital decided to confirm the diagnosis by performing a biopsy on one of the nodules in my right lung. The biopsy confirmed that I had stage 4 kidney cancer that had metastasized to my lungs. At the beginning of 2014 I was now covered by my wife’s insurance plan and we began to seek treatment for the cancer at another facility. The oncologist there looked over my scans and confirmed the diagnosis. He ordered additional scans and tests to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread to any other organs or in the bones. These scans showed that the cancer was confined to the lungs. The plan was for me to receive a treatment using an immunotherapy drug called Interleukin 2 at U.C.S.F. as an inpatient. This is the only known drug to cure kidney cancer. It sounded like a good plan, however, U.C.S.F. was not taking new patients for this treatment. So, the oncologist offered another option which was to take an oral medication called Votrient. Now, my wife and I had a decision to make.