Katie Coleman has been diagnosed with a rare form kidney cancer In 2020, he will be 29 years old. He had not seen a doctor for a year and a half, and he had not yet received an answer. Coleman, a newly hired software developer in Austin, Texas, recently decided to speak openly about his diagnosis in an interview. He shared his story with TODAY.
Prior to this incident, I had no health problems. I remember that I did not have a primary care physician, and I regret it.
I knew something was wrong with my body – I understood that deeply. I had high blood pressure and a fast heartbeat, so I went to see eight doctors, had tests done, and everyone told me that I was worried. When I asked, two doctors told me I was too young for cancer. It made me feel like a hypochondria.
I’ve been anxious all my life, but it was different and I tried to say it, but I was taking anti-anxiety medications.
When no one took me seriously, I deliberately lost weight to see if I could improve my health and solve the problem. I walked 2-10 miles a day and lost 50 pounds with proper nutrition. When I lost that weight, I began to develop a mass in my upper right abdomen.
It was not a tumor. The best way I can describe it is that I seem to have six packets of abs, but I don’t have six packets in any form, shape or form. I wasn’t sick of it, I could feel it. So I went to the emergency room and the nurse assured me that this was a completely valid reason to go to the ER.
It was in December 2020, at the peak of COVID-19, so I was very excited when I went to the ambulance, but I went. They did an ultrasound and an CT scan and found a mass of almost 5 inches in my kidney and a few tumors in my liver.
When the doctor came to preach on New Year’s Eve, my husband burst into tears. We just got married in October. We are newly married. No one expects such a diagnosis two months after marriage.
But even though it was a terrible diagnosis, I was a little relieved because once someone sitting in front of me believed me and there was a reason I felt scared.
My official diagnosis is a rare type of kidney cell called metastatic oncocytoma. The oncocytomas should never have spread, but my liver got into my liver and turned it into stage 4 kidney cancer.
When I was first diagnosed, surgery was not possible. However, the tumor seemed to be growing slowly, and six months after my treatment, the National Cancer Institute decided to operate on me.
In June 2021, doctors removed my right kidney and performed several wedge resections of my liver – cutting off several parts – and then burning several tumors in my liver. I had another ablation in November.
Since then, I’ve just been actively monitoring. I still have tumors in my liver, but they have been stable for a long time. I have scanners at the end of June.
I’m a software developer, so as a patient it made me crazy how difficult it is to navigate the system. I created my own guide to keep track of doctors, records, appointments, and important things in one place.
I was not looking for a new job, but I decided to work with a company in the digital health space. That’s what happened – the employer extended his hand.
I had to think about whether to reveal my diagnosis or not, and finally I took him out of the gate. I told the employer that I had cancer and put him in the process. I would only switch to a new employer if I knew I was supporting a new employer.
There was no need for work, so I was in an emergency. Several people have told me not to divulge my diagnosis – I can be discriminated against, which is a very valid concern. But it was a personal decision and a calculated risk. My new employer was amazing.
My cancer is very rare, so it’s not really likely. No one knows what to expect. I don’t blame the first doctors for the comments they made before my diagnosis – to them I just looked like a worried patient. They were leaving training and the box I dropped at the time.
Today I feel better. I feel great in my life, and it’s amazing to say that in stage 4 cancer. I am so thankful that I have felt this way for so long.
This interview has been corrected and shortened to clarify.