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Matthew Pagels

“Mr. Pagels, you have cancer…”

These have to be the most sobering words I have heard to date. In January of 2022, I began to have sharp pains in my right side, directly where my kidney is located. “Wow, I must have a kidney stone” was my first thought.

February, March, and April roll by and I finally break down and go to the urologist. (I’m hard-headed folks) I drink more water than the average human, never drink sodas, but I do drink a lot of coffee. 

The urologist recommend an ultrasound, which I had already had 2 days prior, and I let them know that it didn’t show any stones, but no other irregularities were present either. They diagnosed “likely kidney stones” and said, “be sure to drink a lot of water.” Gotcha, I said, already doing so. “And no more coffee!” Shucks, that one hurt a bit.

May, June, July…  “Kidney stones”. Pain. Discomfort. Hematuria. Water, water, water, water, and more water. (And no coffee )

Then August comes, eight months after my first symptoms… and new sensations arrive. Nausea. Fatigue. Pain elevates to brand new heights. More fatigue. More nausea. Weight loss from not eating because of fatigue. I lost around 25 pounds in less than three weeks.

So I decided it was about time to get something done about these “kidney stones”!!! A return trip to the urologist with a cat scan this time showed that “No stones present” was the diagnosis. There never were any kidney stones. But an abnormal soft tissue was found in the right kidney. (it was always the cause)

So we went for another cat scan with contrast this time. A kidney stent was put in and a biopsy was performed to determine what the “abnormal soft tissue” was, although Dr. Ashley Baker felt she knew the second she saw it on the cystoscopy. (you learn all kinds of new words when you’re diagnosed with cancer)

Then the phone call… August 18, 2022: “Mr. Pagels, you have Papillary Urothelial Carcinoma High-Grade in your right kidney, which is a form of bladder cancer. It’s located at the UPJ and has grown so large it has blocked your kidney from draining into your bladder.”

Shock, disbelief, numbness, faith. This was the progression of my emotions:

Tears, uncertainty, faith.

Questions, sadness, faith.

Confusion, being overwhelmed, faith.

God has a purpose!  I settled in faith!

I was 38 years of age. I’ve always been “healthy as a horse”.  I’ve worked out 5 days a week for the last decade. I work hard. I have stamina to the max. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why it’s there. It’s not genetic. It’s not a diet issue. It’s not an age issue or underlying health issue.  There’s no solid contributing factor as to why it’s in my body.

But through it all, God will be praised and glorified!

Treatment plan: They removed my entire right kidney and ureter the next month via laparoscopic surgery and determined that the cancer was at stage three, being that it had grown into the muscle lining of the kidney. Had I waited another month or so to get checked out, it most likely would have metastasized according to the doctor.  

We opted to do a specialized form of Immunotherapy to treat any remaining circulating cancer cells, for which we are still undergoing and awaiting results.

We are trusting in the healing power of Jesus’ name to, not only completely heal, but keep this disease from ever surfacing again. I pray my story helps encourage and strengthen others that are fighting similar battles! Be encouraged in the Lord!!

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