Darnell Washington

Kidney Cancer Patient Stories

Benign Renal Tumor
Darnell Washington

If it was up to the original surgeon Darnell Washington saw regarding the tumors on his kidneys, he’d be spending three long days a week in dialysis. Instead, thanks to Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, Chair of Surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center, he still has both his kidneys and is able to live a normal life.

For Darnell, the problem started with severe back pain in 2011 when he was 52 years old.  He went to his local hospital in Philadelphia, where tests revealed that Darnell had a renal hemorrhage caused by tumors around both of his kidneys. After several diagnostic tests, including X-rays and an MRI, Darnell met with an oncologist at the same hospital.  “The doctor determined from looking at the MRI film that the tumors were cancerous,," recalled Darnell. "He explained that my only option was to have both kidneys removed which would leave me on dialysis for the rest of my life."

"I’d heard about Fox Chase, and had a gut feeling that I should go there."

Darnell was very concerned and wanted a second opinion. “I’d heard about Fox Chase, and had a gut feeling that I should go there,” he recalled.  He placed the call and made an appointment with Dr. Uzzo.  “From the beginning, it was such a good experience,” he said.  “Everyone at Fox Chase was so nice and understanding. They made it as easy as possible on me.”

When Dr. Uzzo looked at Darnell's test results, he said the imaging was so poor that he couldn’t possibly make a firm diagnosis. He ordered an extensive round of testing that included outpatient biopsies of  his kidney masses. “I was just praying very hard that what the other doctor said wasn’t true,” said Darnell. The first biopsy came back benign, and the second one came back the same. Darnell did not have cancer after all and did not require surgery. "By going to Dr. Uzzo at Fox Chase, I avoided a very serious surgery that would have impacted the rest of my life."

Darnell isn’t 100 percent – he had to stop working, and his energy level isn’t what it was. “I stay closer to home that I used to,” he said. But with regular monitoring, Darnell can lead a dialysis-free life.

"If it weren't for Dr. Uzzo and his knowledge ... I wouldn't have the quality of life I have now." 

"The other doctor didn’t even offer me a chance,” he said. “He didn’t do half of the things that Dr. Uzzo did. If it weren't for Dr. Uzzo and his knowledge of these things, I wouldn’t have the quality of life I have now."

"I really thank God for directing me to Dr. Uzzo and to Fox Chase. It’s a great hospital. And Dr. Uzzo is a good man. He breaks everything down to laymen’s terms, and never made me feel inferior in any way. I consider him both a friend and a great doctor. He’s been a blessing in my life."