Wall Of Warriors

This is a wall dedicated to all those Warriors who are fighting the battle and giving hope to others by sharing their stories.
Please feel free to send your personal stories with regards to Kidney Cancer, along with a photo to warriors@kidneycancerkonnection.com as we would love to add it to our "Wall of Warriors"

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After being diagnosed last year at the age of 19 with a rare and incurable kidney cancer known as HLRCC, I established Driven to Cure, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to help others.

I was diagnosed at Massachusetts General Hospital on May 12th, 2015 at the end of my freshman year at the University of New Hampshire. I was told that my Stage 4 kidney cancer would not respond to any of the approved cancer treatments available today.

Fortunately, the doctors at Mass General Hospital referred me to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where researchers have had some success with an experimental treatment program for my type of cancer. I am proud to be Number 42 in the trial treatment program, and thrilled that, thanks to their incredible work, the doctors at NIH are having success prolonging my life. (To learn more about HLRCC click here)

As the dust began to settle from my finding out about the cancer, I remember sitting down with my dad, as the clock was ticking. He stood there and asked a simple question. “Andrew” he said, “what are your life goals?” I thought for a moment with this new lens on life, looked at him, and chuckled “Well I need to own my dream car sometime in my life.” But my dad didn’t take it as a joke.

As I journeyed back to Maryland to begin tests and experimental treatments, my dad began an incredible project to make my goal and dream come true. Three weeks after being diagnosed, I found myself sinking in to the soft leather of my very own brand new Nissan GTR. It was more than a dream come true.

My GTR has proven to be the closest thing I have to a cure for my cancer. Over the past seven months, it has been a tremendous outlet for me. The places I have gone, the people I have met, and the passions I have developed just because of this gift have become the best medicine available. Within days of driving the car off the lot I found myself attending local car shows, answering lots of questions, and creating new friendships with people of all different backgrounds. As folks started talking, my story began spreading and within a month people started knowing who I was and why I had this incredible vehicle. It was clear my situation had a big impact on others and I suddenly found myself experiencing an immense outpouring of love and support. It was then I realized that the vehicle of my dreams was also the vehicle which gave me the opportunity to make a difference; to do something bigger than myself. That is why I am here, writing this story.





I live in Scotland. I really don’t know where to start this tale as now after my diagnosis and surgery, things that have been happening for years suddenly made sense.

For 18 years I lived in the states – for 16 of those years married to an American Naval Petty Officer. My primary physicians were the military doctors. I think my journey with RCC began many years ago in 2002 when I started with lower back pain which mainly was present in the mornings when I woke up and indeed it often woke me up. I went to the doctor who told me it was back strain and related to weight gain. I lived with this pain until 2003 when I again went back to the Naval Hospital and they ran a CT scan which showed nothing. During this year, I started retaining a lot of fluid and again this was attributed to weight gain.

I returned to Scotland in July 2007 and by 2008, went to the NHS doctors to see if some light could be shed on my back pain or some relief offered. I was sent to a physiotherapist when said weight related back strain and gave me a TENS unit to use. In October 2010, I passed a long thin blood clot after going to the bathroom. I did not suspect it came from my urethra but rather vaginally as early menopause was suspected because of a hysterectomy 20 years before and my doctor did not investigate further. I was told to come back if it happened again which it did not.

November 2010 – extreme right flank pain and abdominal pain so a trip to A&E with an admission for 3 days to the local hospital. X-ray was done which showed a twist in the bowel and adhesions from my hysterectomy. Doctors suspected gall bladder disease too so was scheduled for an ultrasound within two weeks (small hospital). Ultrasound showed a mass on right kidney and on December 14th 2010, I was told by my GP that I had cancer and the mass was approx. 9cm in diameter. No mets were seen. I was scheduled for surgery 7th February 2011 and had a radical nephrectomy performed via keyhole surgery – keyhole that still left me with a nice 5” scar. I was in hospital for 6 days and was discharged home to wait for the pathology report although the surgeon assured me he had “got it all”. Two weeks later the report came back. Fuhrman Grade 4 pT3b with rhabdoid change. Tumour was 7 x 4cm and they removed 17x 8 x 9 cms of kidney and fat. Tumour involved the renal vain but confined by the renal capsule.

The hardest thing for me was the waiting time between diagnosis, removal and path report – I had no nails left! Now I have another long wait of 6 months before getting follow up scans. The problem is money with the NHS – I will only get a CT scan and ultrasound – no bone scan and CT will just be abdominal. My blood has not been checked since February.

I just wanted to give you a little update of what has been happening with me.
When I had my first CT scan in December 2010, it was noted that I had "markedly enlarged retroperitoneal lymphnodes" and a "3cm nodal mass in the illiac fossa region". My urologist thought that this was all related to the effects of the kidney cancer and decided to "wait & see".

After experiencing further back pain, elevated inflamatory markers, elevated liver function and other issues presenting via blood tests post surgery for 4 months, it was decided that I was to have another CT scan which I had in June 2011. This CT scan showed that the retroperintoneal lymph nodes were still markedly enlarged and the 3cm nodal mass grown ever so slightly larger. The urologist and radiologist reviewed the scan and decided to refer me to a haemotologist with the suspicion of lymphoma.

I attended this appointment on July 18th 2011 and was told that there is a good chance that it is lymphoma and that the only way to confirm and to determine what type, is to take out the nodal mass. Unfortunetly, due to the location of the illiac fossa lymph nodes, it means that needle biopsy is out of the question and keyhole surgery is the only option. I am now waiting for a surgical date.

I have had to go back on Oxycontin because of the back and flank pain and am currently on a rather high dose of 50mg SR twice a day.

So there you have it. It appears that this "sneaky" cancer has got me again.


My husband, Jerry, was diagnosed with RCC on October 27, 2009. Jerry never wants to go to the doctor, so when he told me he thought something was wrong and asked me to take him to the emergency room, I knew it was serious. He was admitted with pneumonia, but after his labwork came back abnormal, a CT was performed. We were given the diagnosis of kidney cancer and sent in for surgery. His pathology report stated Stage T1a, Grade 3, clear cell type Renal Cell Adenocarcinoma with margins free of lesional tissue. Because of the size and location of his tumor (it was growing across the center of his kidney, much too close to the main renal vessel)
he had a left radical nephrectomy.
Jerry and I have five beautiful children and four grandchildren. He is the most wonderful father & husband and now my Hero, Love Kerrie xx


Pastor Richard Johnson

I wouldn't consider myself to be a "warrior", but my story began in December 2009. It was three days before Christmas when I first saw the symptoms of what I know now as Renal Cell Carcinoma. I waited two days before going to the local ER to see if could flush out what I thought was a very bad kidney or bladder infection. Needless to say, it didn't flush out, but got somewhat worse. After running some tests at the ER, I was now being told I had a very large (12 cm) mass on my right kidney and further tests would be needed to confirm what they thought was RCC. They were right. At age 48, my wife and I are battling what we all think happens to other people. My wife too, has been battling colon cancer since 2007. After being confirmed as RCC, my life suddenly took a turn to find help. I landed in Cleveland, OH where I underwent a Radical Nephrectomy on February 1, 2010. The tumor was staged T4 N0 M0, Clear Cell, Grade 3. No further mets
were initially discovered, but now we're seeing small nodules on my lungs and we're trying to discover other areas that may need close attention. My wife and I would never have opted for this journey, but it is what it is, as they say. We don't get to choose what we get in this life, but how we respond to what we get makes a huge difference in the journey and also in he outcome. Cancer has given us empathy for those who are dealing with these same maladies and we pray a final cure will be found one day! Until then ... we pray, hope and live out each day to the fullest, for we don't know what tomorrow may bring! You can read our story on the blogs page.


Cheryl Gatewood

This is my Mom, Cheryl. She has been a warrior for two years now! Her journey started during the fall of 2007 when she wasn't "feeling right". Five months, countless biopsies, scans and blood tests later, we finally had an answer. Stage IV Renal Cell Carcinoma. It hit us like a ton of bricks and life, as we knew it, was not the same. Over the past two years, we've cried, celebrated, tried to ignore and finally embrace, what has happened to her body. In two short years, Mom has endured three drugs (all targeted therapies), surgery to insert a port, surgery to remove a brain lesion, medications to control cholesterol, blood pressure, thyroid, mood swings, aches, pains ... well you get the idea. This woman is MY HERO and I plan to continue admiring her for many years to come.

Her loving daughter, Erin xxx

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