Denny Partosa, bladder cancer patient

My name is Redentor “Denny” Partosa. I am 66 years old and live in Auburn, about 30 miles south of Seattle. I was first diagnosed with cancer in January 2016.

My name is Redentor “Denny” Partosa. I am 66 years old and live in Auburn, about 30 miles south of Seattle. I was first diagnosed with cancer in January 2016.

My first symptom occurred in December 2015. I was at my local rehab center to recover from a heart attack that occurred during the prior summer when I noticed blood in my urine. I mentioned this to my nurse; she thought it was caused by the blood-thinning medicine and aspirin I was prescribed after my heart attack. A month later, I started experiencing pain in my left side. I made an appointment right away with a urologist, who did X-rays and a CAT scan and discovered a mass on my left kidney. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer and my urologist recommended surgery to remove the kidney.

But when I saw a surgeon at a hospital close to home, he questioned the mass. The kidney cancer was a misdiagnosis: A biopsy determined that I had bladder cancer.

I sought out a second opinion with Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist at SCCA. X-rays of my chest were taken to find out whether the cancer had spread; unfortunately, it had spread to my lungs. I was also developing a bump on my right inner thigh. So I had two additional biopsies: one in my lung and the other on my thigh. They were also diagnosed as bladder cancer.

My wife suggested we meet an oncologist at a clinic closer to our home, but I liked Dr. Cheng and wanted her to treat me. I have a hard time warming up to people, and Dr. Cheng was a good fit. My wife and I trusted her. Despite the hour-long drive, we decided that I would receive treatment at SCCA because of its reputation. I’d heard SCCA is one of the top cancer treatment clinics, and the people here are special: They really take care of their patients.

My first treatment was chemotherapy for six months. By the end of the treatment, I had no energy and had neuropathy — I couldn’t walk or use my hands and I had lots of swelling. I also lost 30 pounds and my hair from the chemo. During my “break” in August 2016, I went to the Philippines for a couple of weeks. It was wonderful to be home with my family.

When I returned after a month, I started an immunotherapy treatment called atezolizumab, a checkpoint inhibitor drug. What a change from the chemo! The treatment is once every three weeks (instead of two times every three weeks for the chemo treatment) and only takes about an hour to complete. I still have energy and my appetite. The immunotherapy treatment has also reduced the mass to approximately half the size and the bump on my inner thigh is completely gone. It’s like normal skin on my thigh now.

Chemo was the hardest part of my treatment, but now it’s like I’m not even sick. I’m thankful to be back to a normal life again.

Since I am retired, I have quite a bit of time on my hands. To stay busy, I go on Facebook to keep up with friends and family. I also enjoy gardening and fixing cars. Since I was very young, I’ve been playing pool. I’m currently in three pool leagues and wouldn’t mind joining more. My teammates and competitors respect my pool skills. I have been on teams that have made it to nationals — one in Tennessee and the other in Las Vegas. My goal is to get to the national tournament again soon.

In the summer, my passion is the property in Mt. Vernon that my daughter owns. It is therapeutic. I can fish, row in my little boat or canoe and be with my wife, two daughters, their spouses and my three grandchildren. The advice I would give other cancer patients is to stay positive and to surround yourself with family and friends.

Biopsy The removal of a sample of tissue or fluid that is examined to see whether cancer is present. This may be done with a large needle or through surgical removal of tissue or fluids. Biopsy The removal of a sample of tissue or fluid that is examined to see whether cancer is present. This may be done with a large needle or through surgical removal of tissue or fluids. Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Computed tomography A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. This scan may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment or find out how well treatment is working. Fluorescence in situ hybridization A laboratory method used to look at genes or chromosomes in cells and tissues with the help of fluorescent dye. It is used to help diagnose diseases such as cancer and to help plan treatment. A laboratory method used to look at genes or chromosomes in cells and tissues. Pieces of DNA that contain a fluorescent dye are made in the laboratory and added to a cell or tissue sample. When these pieces of DNA bind to certain genes or areas on chromosomes in the sample, they light up when viewed under a microscope with a special light. FISH can be used to identify where a specific gene is located on a chromosome, how many copies of the gene are present and any chromosomal abnormalities. It is used to help diagnose diseases such as cancer and to help plan treatment. Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. Medical oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist is often the main health care provider for someone who has cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists. Neuropathy A numbness, tingling or pain from nerve damage caused by a tumor or by treatment. Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation. Physician assistant A health professional who is licensed to do certain medical procedures under the guidance of a physician. A health professional who is licensed to do certain medical procedures under the guidance of a physician. A physician assistant may take medical histories, do physical exams, take blood and urine samples, care for wounds and give injections and immunizations. Symptom A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. Some examples of symptoms are headache, fatigue, nausea and pain.