One of my best friends and mentors observes his three years since his diagnosis of Renal Cell Cancer. His kidney and adrenal gland were removed on this exact day, October 10, 2011. I am fortunate enough to say that he is still cancer free and doing amazing. During my college courses I took a feature article writing class, here is his story as told to me by him, his wife and brother. Enjoy.
RIDING FORWARD: JASON BAUSCH
AND WHAT’S NEXT AFTER CANCER
Costa Mesa, Calif – The pain was unbearable; something he never experienced before. He was sweating, tossing and turning in his sleep. To alleviate the pain, he had to curl up in the fetal position. Jason Bausch, 43, a personal trainer, went for a 12 mile run earlier that day and thought that was the reason for his pain. Holly Bausch, his wife of nine years, wanted to call 911.
“I’ll sleep it off, just give me some Advil,” Jason said.
“It was really scary,” said Holly Bausch, 29, a project manager for AAA for 12 years says of that night as she’s dressed in a green Oakley t-shirt, pink and brown striped pajama pants with her long, brown hair tied up in a bun in an interview. “Jason has a real high tolerance for pain and the look on face was just not right.”
Moments later, Jason passed out and by midnight the Bausch’s were on their way to the hospital. Little did they know that night would change their lives forever.
Jason is also a professional athlete in both surfing and cycling and has had his share of bumps and bruises throughout his career. He was lucky and good enough to be an Olympic trial athlete for the United States in both 2000 and 2004 for cycling. His training regimen of 4 or 5 a.m. workouts of explosive exercises and miles on his bike would make the average gym patrons routine seem fragile and feeble by comparison.
“When I asked if he wanted to go to the hospital and he said yes,” Holly continues, “I was scared, worried, and unsure what to do. We were fighting before and I had no clue he was hurting.”
After Jason was admitted into the hospital he was given a usual round of tests.
“They took an X-Ray, didn’t see anything and thought it was kidney stones and said to wait till it passes,” Jason states in an interview dressed in an orange Reese’s Pieces t-shirt, gray Oakley hat, blue jeans and black Oakley sandals. “The X-Ray radiation guy came in and said he saw a lump that looked unusual and it could be a tumor.”
After five hours of battling it out with the insurance company, Jason receives a CAT scan to reveal that he has an orange size tumor on his left kidney. The outcome was Renal Cell Cancer. Jason’s left kidney and adrenal gland had to be removed.
“There was some fear,” says Holly of the diagnosis. “We were unsure of the outcome, totally lost with no control. It was in God’s hands now.”
According to Cancer.org, about 64,770 new cases of kidney cancer will occur each year and the death rates according to a graph from the National Cancer Institute, states that males at the age of 40 have a .002 percent chance of dying from kidney and renal cancer. The odds were in Jason’s favor.
On October 10, 2011, Jason underwent surgery to remove the lump, left kidney and adrenal gland. The operation was a huge success as the doctors claimed to have removed all the cancer and caught it early enough that it did not spread to any other area of the body. Even better, Jason would not have to receive any type of chemotherapy or radiation treatment, but he does have to get checked out every six months to make sure the cancer does not return
There are still some aspects of Jason’s case that worry some as Holly explains. “I am grateful that Jason has another chance, but I’m worried about it being genetic and that it might pass down to our kids,” says Holly.
Jason and Holly have two little boys together; Micah, age 3 and Nikko, who is 16 months.
The genetic part is a big possibility as Jason had two uncles die from kidney problems. It was unclear if it was due to cancer as both died in the Philippines where hospital records are not kept accurately. This did not stop Jason’s brother Kirk from getting tested to make sure he would not have the same fate as his brother, or even worse as his uncles.
“I was thinking just like Holly,” Kirk Bausch, 42, a marketer for a triathlon company said in a phone interview. “This might be genetic and I wanted to take the proper precautions.”
Kirk submitted to his doctor a series of blood and urine tests and the full report on Jason’s condition. Kirk admits he was scared for the results.
“There was some fear,” Kirk continues. “I wanted to get this figured out and catch it early if there was something there.”
Lucky for Kirk, the tests came back negative, relieving his thoughts of him having the same route as his family.
A long, grueling and challenging road lies ahead for Jason and his recovery. His doctor says it will be at least another six months before he can compete in any type of race. One great thing about his ordeal is that even before he left the hospital, Jason was already under contract for a new cycling team; Breakaway from Cancer Masters Cycling.
“I want to get back into it,” Jason said of racing. “I’ve always been on the gas and this is the first time I had to back off of it.”
Even though Jason longs for the sport he loves, he is enjoying the time off. “It’s a good thing because I spend more time with Holly and the kids,” Jason says. “I’m not traveling so much, spending every weekend racing.”
The competitive environment of the sport and the fellowship of the team dynamics is what Jason misses most. “I miss getting back into the nature of the sport,” Jason continues. “I miss being in shape; being lean. Racing with a team is a lot like a chess game. I want to play my part.”
The racing, the looks, and the team spirit are no match for the change in Jason’s personality. His brother Kirk says it best. “I see him now, rather than being stressed out all the time about life, that now he’s more carefree,” Kirk says. “He cherishes life and the time he has left.”
After such a traumatic and emotional roller coaster ride that left the Bausch’s questioning their genetic history, it’s a lesson that will never be forgotten to enjoy the ride of life even with obstacles that will come in the way.