In November 2009, I saw a doctor about a recurring urinary tract infection. The doctor ordered an ultrasound, just to check on whether anything else was involved, and the sonogram showed a growth on my kidney. I went on to have a CT scan and an MRI, which confirmed that I had a kidney tumor—though there was no way to tell if it was cancerous or benign.
I live in Syracuse. I saw a urological surgeon there, who explained that I had a large, complex tumor, and if he was going to operate on me he would need to take the whole tumor out. When I told him I was interested in keeping as much of the kidney as possible, he referred me to Dr. Michael Stifelman in New York City, explaining that Dr. Stifelman is an expert on partial nephrectomy procedures.
I made an appointment to see Dr. Stifelman in early January. After he reviewed the film, he felt confident that he could perform kidney-sparing surgery. While I wasn't necessarily looking to have a robotic procedure, I was thrilled to learn that Dr. Stifelman could perform this surgery in a minimally-invasive way with the help of robotic surgery. My husband and I both liked him very much, and also got the impression right off the bat that he was a very good surgeon. I'd gone online to look at his website and his credentials, as well. As a result, I felt very confident that I was in good hands.
That very day, I made an appointment to have the operation done in late February. The surgery went very well. It wasn't exactly fun—surgery is surgery, after all—but the recovery wasn't bad at all. Because the pain medication made me a little sick, I switched to Tylenol within three days after the surgery and felt fine, which indicates how little pain I was in. We stayed in New York for a week before returning home, and at the end of the week Dr. Stifelman did another sonogram to make sure everything was looking good, which it was.
I have my own business, and I'd decided to take a full six weeks off to be sure I was fully recovered. But after a couple of weeks I was feeling pretty good, and by four weeks I was back to all my normal activities, getting groceries, doing laundry, those types of things. Today, two months after the operation, I feel excellent.
The tumor turned out to be cancer, but because the entire tumor was removed, I have no need for any additional chemotherapy or radiation. Meanwhile, Dr. Stifelman has been awesome. He's a very caring person, and I'm absolutely pleased he was my surgeon.