Sutter Cancer Centers
Marilyn - Minimally Invasive Surgery Helps Active Grammy
Marilyn Mowrer leads a full, active life. When she’s not “grammysitting” her four grandchildren four days a week, the 69-year-old, keeps busy with her church and close circle of friends.
Marilyn had been experiencing abdominal discomfort in the upper right quadrant for several years, so she finally decided to make an appointment with her primary care physician, Dr. Anne Priest, for a check-up. An exam and abdominal ultrasound indicated possible renal cell carcinoma in Marilyn’s left kidney. Doctors ordered a CT urogram with IV contrast, which provided more evidence of suspected cancer. That’s when Dr. Priest referred Marilyn to Dr. David Yee, urologist and director of minimally invasive robotic surgery at Sutter Roseville Medical Center.
Dr. Yee confirmed that Marilyn had renal cell carcinoma and needed surgery soon to remove the malignant tumor.
“I knew it was serious, but I’m a very positive person and not one to feel sorry for myself,” said Marilyn. “Dr. Yee told me from the results of the scan that the tumor looked very large. He said we needed to get it out right away.”
Dr. Yee wanted to take the best approach possible to treat Marilyn. He scheduled her for a laparoscopic nephrectomy, a minimally invasive method of removing the tumor. The surgery is performed through three small incisions made in the abdomen. A telescope and small instruments are inserted through the incisions, allowing Dr. Yee to remove the tumor. The minimally invasive technique typically results in a shorter hospital stay and a faster return to daily activities for patients.
“I liked Dr. Yee immediately and felt very confident in him,” adds Marilyn. “He is a wonderful listener and encouraged me to ask him any questions that were on my mind.”
Carried by her strong faith, Marilyn experienced no apprehension or nervousness in the weeks leading up to surgery. “Even though we weren’t sure yet what the extent of the cancer was, I was truly at peace when I went into surgery. I have no history of cancer in my family. Yet, I had a large malignant tumor,” she reflects. “That’s life!”
Marilyn arrived with her son at Sutter Roseville Medical Center for surgery. Depending upon the size of the tumor, Dr. Yee would decide whether to remove part or all of her kidney once he began the operation. Because the tumor turned out to be very large, he removed the entire kidney through a vertical incision, and Marilyn was in the recovery room a few hours later
“The tumor was the size of a small cantaloupe. We were all very surprised that I didn’t feel more discomfort,” comments Marilyn.
Marilyn was discharged from the hospital the next day. After spending a couple of days recovering with her son, daughter-in-law and four precious grandchildren, she returned to her home. She eased back into her routine over the next few days and resumed “grammysitting” a month later.
“My recovery was amazingly quick,” adds Marilyn. “Dr. Yee really had a strong sense of me and how I’d do with this surgery.” She credits her doctors for being so proactive with her health and her strong support system of family and friends for her excellent outcome.
“The pathology report stated that the tumor was within fractions of a millimeter of going through the wall of my kidney,” said Marilyn. “I did not have any chemotherapy or radiation therapy.”
One year after her surgery, Marilyn had a CT scan with IV contrast of her chest, abdomen and pelvis, which revealed great news: the cancer had not metastasized.
With her health concern behind her, Marilyn is once again enjoying the active, busy life she’s always lived. She strongly believes her fast recovery was linked to her positive frame of mind and encourages others facing a similar diagnosis to stay positive and have confidence in their physicians and care team.
“My family, friends and I all sometimes forget that I went through this major surgery a year ago. I am very blessed to have my health, as well as my two sons, two daughter-in-laws and six beautiful grandchildren,” says Marilyn, adding that both sons were born on her her birthday, two years apart.
“Thank you, Dr. Yee, for allowing me to share my story!”
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