Sutter Cancer Centers
Gerri - Robotic Partial Nephrectomy
According to Gerri's research, 95 percent of kidney cancers are found by accident. And in her case, the statistic was true.
After suffering from back pain for many years, Gerri found herself regularly visiting her chiropractor. During a routine appointment her doctor told her he was having problems adjusting her back. He suggested she contact her primary care physician to have it looked at further, and possibly seek an MRI. After putting it off for a while, Gerri made an appointment with her physician J. Curtis Zingheim, M.D. He prescribed physical therapy, but after it made the pain worse, not better, he sent her in for an MRI.
Gerri's MRI revealed that she had spinal stenosis and a bulging disc, and that her chiropractor's suspicions were indeed correct. But something else was found during the MRI - a large mass on the lower pole of her left kidney. She was immediately scheduled for further testing.
"I asked for a referral to Abdo Faddoul, M.D.," said Gerri. "When I went to see him he was pretty sure the tumor was cancerous."
Thankfully, the results didn't show evidence of cancer in any other part of her body. However, because of the size of the tumor and its proximity to her kidney, Dr. Faddoul referred Gerri to a specialist in San Francisco to be checked out.
"I was comfortable with the doctor's experience in San Francisco," said Gerri. "But it was the expenses for lodging, taking someone with me for a three to five-day stay and being too far from home that made me decide to look at my other options."
One day while volunteering in the Sutter Roseville Surgery Center, Gerri began talking to one of her colleagues and got wind that a new urologic surgeon was coming on board. From what she learned about his training in urologic oncology and advanced laparoscopic and robotic surgery, he might be just the doctor she was looking for to remove her tumor, while sparring part of her kidney. David S. Yee, M.D., joined Sutter Medical Group in March and Gerri was one of his first surgical patients at Sutter Roseville Medical Center.
"I immediately fell in love with him," said Gerri. "Having worked with surgeons for the past eight years, I usually know what to expect. Dr. Yee was so different. He had no ego, he tells it like it is, and he was able to explain things very well."
Dr. Yee examined Gerri, scheduled her for some additional X-rays and made the recommendation that she have robotic-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy to remove the tumor.
"I am 73 and initially the thought of surgery scared me," said Gerri. "But Dr. Yee told me about the benefits of the da Vinci robotic surgery. He was very confident that with using the robot he wouldn't have to remove my whole kidney."
The day after surgery, Dr. Yee showed up in Gerri's room ready to help her move about to start recovery.
"I was in some pain because I was allergic to the prescription pain medications," said Gerri. "But Dr. Yee was there for me and got me up himself and walked me around. And the next day he came by to personally change my dressing and remove my catheter. I was very impressed, and so were the nurses."
Two days after her surgery Gerri was able to return home, only needing to take a few Extra Strength Tylenol® to manage her pain. She was back driving in a week and volunteering at the Roseville Police Department within a month.
"When I went in for my follow-up exam Dr. Yee gave me the good news that pathology showed the tumor wasn't cancerous," said Gerri. "And Dr. Yee told me he didn't need to see me again for six months. But to my surprise I received two follow-up calls from him at home checking on me."
Two months after her surgery, Gerri only has one visible scar left from her operation. "People are always amazed that Dr. Yee was able to remove my tumor and part of my kidney from such a small incision."
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