Young woman decided to speak publicly and share her story with the public in an effort to raise awareness and encourage everyone to not skip regular medical checkups after she was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer, year and a half after being constantly treated with anti-anxiety meds, a diagnosis given by eight different doctors during that time. Even though she suspected she might have cancer at one point considering her symptoms, doctors told her ‘she was too young’ to have cancer. But they were wrong.
Speaking to Today few days ago, K. Coleman described herself as completely healthy with no previous health issues until she started experiencing constant anxiety-like symptoms in 2019. She was so healthy that she didn’t even have a primary care doctor, something that she later regretted thinking that having a primary care doctor would have prevented the year-and-a-half-long agony after her first symptom.
According to Coleman, she has had anxiety throughout her life and she immediately knew that high blood pressure and a rapid heart rate were symptoms that didn’t correspond with the anxiety symptoms she has had experienced throughout her life. Doctor after doctor, Coleman was constantly told that she was suffering from anxiety, and was treated with anti-anxiety meds for roughly 18 months. Coleman says that she visited a total of eight doctors during that period and all of them confirmed the same diagnosis and treatment.
The fact that none of the doctors she visited took her seriously, she took things in her own hands and decided to work hard and try to improve her health. Coleman prepared a healthy eating regimen for herself and started walking 10 miles every day in an effort to lose weight and improve her health eventually resulting with losing a total of 50 pounds. That’s when she started to feel a hard mass in her upper right abdomen, a symptom that she had never experienced before.
“It wasn’t a lump. The best way that I can describe it is it felt like I had six-pack abs on that side, but I don’t have a six-pack in any way, shape or form. I wasn’t getting pain from it, I could just feel it. So I went to an urgent care and the nurse practitioner assured me that it was a perfectly valid reason to go to the ER,” she told Today.
It was December of 2020 in the peak of the Covid-19 when she did an ultrasound and a CT scan and saw an almost 5-inch mass on her kidney and several tumors in her liver. The then 29-year-old Texas based software developer, and her husband, were left in shock considering her age, but Coleman was also happy at the time because it was the first time a doctor took her seriously after year and a half of struggles.
She was diagnosed with a rare type of renal cell carcinoma, which had spread to her liver, deeming it stage 4. After a couple months of treatment that Coleman doesn’t specify, she underwent surgery six months after the diagnosis. The procedure is typically reserved for earlier-stage cancers. Doctors took out her right kidney and pieces of her liver. They also burned off some liver tumors. Now, nearly a year after the first procedure, Coleman’s liver is being monitored. She doesn’t know her prognosis given the rarity of the disease.
Coleman has to undergo regular scans again in June. She remains positive despite the huge uncertainty about her case. Although she says she didn’t need it, she recently started a new job in a company in the digital health space. Coleman is thankful to her new employer for being very supportive which she finds it helpful and encouraging to continue the battle with the rare disease.