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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

By the time you guys are reading this, I will be at Roswell Park finding out how aggressive my cancer is and what it will take to get rid of it. I have kidney cancer, and my understanding is that it is one of the cancers that can be conquered with surgery. To be honest, I cannot afford a long bout with chemotherapy, so I am hoping on a quick surgical answer to this issue.

Why am I telling you this? I am telling you this because I feel that I am like most people out there in that I tend to ignore things and hope they go away. When the first signs of this problem popped up, my first inclination was to just ignore it and it will go away. But, in a move that is against my nature, I did not ignore it. Instead, I told my doctor and he was as calm as he could be. He gave me possible problems, but he never mentioned cancer.

His solution, as would be any doctor’s solution, was to get me looked at to see what was going on. My first test was an ultrasound on Christmas Eve. After doing a few pregnancy jokes for my wife, I went home to enjoy the holidays. By Sunday afternoon, I was in the hospital with pain so intense that it even challenged the authority of my pain medication.

Luckily for me, I had just done an ultrasound that the doctor at the hospital used to determine that I immediately needed a CT scan. I could see it in his eyes; he had already formulated a diagnosis.

Just for the record, I went to the "awful and horrible Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport" (or whatever they are calling Lockport Memorial Hospital these days). You know the one. It is the hospital that just about every Lockport resident on Facebook loves to take a shot at. This hospital saved my life once, so I always like to give it a chance whenever I can.

After my CT scan, it did not take the doctor long to come back with his potential diagnosis. Kidney cancer. Even my release papers from the hospital say kidney cancer on them. This doctor was very straightforward with me and said that, from what he saw on the CT scan, he would be shocked if it was anything but cancer.

Two days later my primary doctor called me at home and told me his preliminary diagnosis after seeing the initial reports. Kidney cancer. Two doctors – two cancer verdicts. The next step was Roswell.

When I got home that Sunday, I admit that I panicked. My wife was trying to be strong, and she was doing a really good job. But I was crazy with pain and I know I wasn’t thinking straight. I am just glad I did not go anywhere Sunday night. I had some medication that I took and it knocked me out until Tuesday morning. When I woke up, I started doing research.

I don’t know how early my cancer is in its development. I know that I started going to the doctor the moment that anything was a bit off in my normal habits. I also know that the cancer does not show up on a CT scan done of my horribly damaged back two years ago. Is that good or bad? I don’t know. I’ve never had cancer before.

The word cancer was hard for me to say at first. My sister-in-law is plugged into the Buffalo medical community and I knew she would see my name as being a patient at Roswell. So I called my brother and sister-in-law to tell them, and I broke down. When you first say that word associated with yourself, it feels like a death sentence. You feel hopeless, and you feel like you have already lost.

But after doing some research, I have learned that kidney cancer can be beaten without chemo. As long as they can get the kidney out before anything has a chance to spread, then I should be fine. Which is good, because being a freelance writer does not allow me a lot of time to spend on chemotherapy.

I am telling you this because I am an average person who hopes that little physical issues just go away after a while. When I was younger, hoping things would go away worked great. Usually, problems just went away. But when you get older, you realize that the problems are a little more severe, and they may not be going anywhere.

If you feel like something is not right, then go to the doctor. Tell your doctor everything so that they can help you. Have you been taking some vitamins or supplements your doctor doesn’t know about? Then tell your doctor. Are you taking someone else’s medication because it seems to help you feel better? Then tell your doctor.

Dr. Junke has saved my life once already. He is the reason I am able to walk without a cane, and he is the reason why I am not diabetic. When I first blew out my back, I worked with my doctor to find a solution that worked. After a few years, we finally found one. I am one of those people who habitually does what my doctor tells me to do, and it is an approach I recommend to everyone.

I am not sure what my future holds, and I don’t know what Roswell will tell me today. But I do know that I am able to handle it better now because I took the time to educate myself, and I took the time to talk to my doctor. All I can do now is put my fate into the hands of specialists who have handled this type of situation 100 times before. And for some reason, I feel really good about that.

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and soon-to-be cancer survivor. You can follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or you can email him at

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