Sunday, July 10, 2016


"Mr. Pool, we've found something unexpected."

One year ago today, stretched out on a gurney in the emergency room, I gathered myself for what the doctor had to say. A couple of hours before life had been proceeding as expected. Clocked out of the evening shift at work, I took a moment to go to the restroom before driving home and putting my aching back to bed.

Blood red urine tends to focus one's attention.

I decided not to worry my co-workers, went to the car and headed to the ER, phoning my wife along the way. I wasn't in any pain, just concerned. I parked, walked in, and started plowing through paperwork. My wife and daughter arrived shortly, and I went through the hoops of giving samples and having a CT scan to see if it was an infection or kidney stone.

"The CT scan shows a cancerous mass on your right kidney."

Cancer tends to focus one's attention.

The doctor's ordered more CT scans to refine the view of the mass. Night melted into dawn, and I was finally put in a bed and then in a room. Doctors moved in and out, expressing concern, going over the situation, giving options. The mass is good sized and invading toward a major vein leading back to my heart. The only real option is removal of the kidney. Because of the location of the cancer, the surgery needed to take place at a larger hospital Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

It so happens that a dear friend of my wife's aunt is an administrator in the oncology department at Hopkins. My wife made a call, and Gail took me on as her personal mission. She got us in touch with one of the top kidney specialists at Hopkins. Appointments were made.

And here I was, at the precipice of... I didn't know what. No one plans for this. Everything was in flux. But there was nothing to do but move forward.

Next: Surgery