John McCraney, 48, moved his family to Alamo Township from New Jersey three years ago for his job. He expected it would take some time to adjust to his new Michigan community. What he didn’t expect was a cancer diagnosis at his age.
It happened in October 2010. John had chest pain and thought he was having a heart attack. Tests showed two large masses on his left lung. Further tests revealed that John had renal cell carcinoma, more commonly known as kidney cancer. His diagnosis was the beginning of a series of appointments, two separate surgeries and many challenges that were tough for John and his wife to navigate alone. That’s why he is grateful for Bronson's Oncology Nurse Navigator Service, offering a personal navigator who acts as liaison to enhance the quality and continuity of care for cancer patients. John’s primary care physician referred him to the service where he says he was contacted right away by oncology nurse navigator Kelly Kulczyk, RN, BSN.
“Kelly was on point right away, helping to get things organized with my appointments and different doctors. It’s helpful to have someone when you’re trying to make decisions about surgeries and medications. You know you’re not alone.”
John says Kelly helped his wife Barbara as well, especially when it came to researching his type of cancer. “There is a lot of bad stuff out there when you start searching online. The two sites she provided gave my wife and me an idea of what may or may not happen with my cancer. This was really helpful for my wife who had her hands full with our three kids and wanting to be at the hospital with me.” Kelly also answered John’s questions about treatment drugs and types of pain medicine available to him, and she even made sure Hospice was providing the pain management he needed following his surgeries.
“Cancer is bad. Some people don’t realize it until you experience it. It was very helpful to have Kelly, especially being from another state. At least I have someone I can call and talk to. I think everybody needs that. It’s even better if that person is someone who knows about cancer and can give you ideas from past cases,” John says.
Now that his surgeries are over, John is recovering with physical therapy and continuing to manage his pain. Renal cell carcinoma has a 100 percent chance of reoccurrence, so he knows there is going to be more treatment to come. For now, he is looking forward to spending time with his wife, two daughters and son. He’s thankful for Kelly’s ongoing calls and e-mails to check up on him. John hopes that Bronson continues to offer the program and recommends it to other families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
“You can’t put a dollar value on someone who can be a friend during something like this. Having someone there is priceless."