On my 22nd birthday, doctors found “something” (apparently the official medical term) on my left kidney. Although they weren’t sure exactly what it was, my doctors decided to treat it as if it was actually a cancerous tumour and planned for a surgery that would not potentially release any of the “thing”‘s cells into the rest of my body. I underwent a radical nephrectomy about a month and a half after the discovery and post-operative analysis showed that the “thing” was papillary cell cancer. The doctors were sure that they had managed to remove the entire tumour without any sort of rupture and so decided that no further treatment was necessary. That was almost nine years ago. The only lasting repercussions have been the need for an annual scan and an appreciation for life that most people my age do not have.
Karen has been a volunteer Director for Kidney Cancer Canada for the Maritimes since 2008. She is responsible for patient support, community development, patient meetings and webcast hosting as well as advocating for equal access to drug treatment. She works to increase awareness of Kidney Cancer Canada as an organization and has also advocated for the need for a catastrophic drug programme in New Brunswick. Karen was caregiver for her husband David from his diagnosis of kidney cancer in August, 2000 until his passing in June, 2012. She has had 18 years of learning about and dealing with kidney cancer firsthand. Karen continues to work with Kidney Cancer Canada in the quest to create awareness about kidney cancer as a significant health issue in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador as well as across Canada.