Olympic Skater Maia Shibutani Reveals Rare Cancer Diagnosis That Causes Tumors

Two-time Olympic bronze medalist Maia Shibutani has shared that the tumor that was removed from her kidney on Dec. 14 was malignant.

 

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It’s been a really tough week. Back in October, I got sick and had to go to the ER while I was in New York. It ended up being a stomach virus, but they ran some tests that showed an abnormality – it was recommended that I have a follow-up appointment to take a closer look. After an MRI earlier this week in LA, I was told that I had a small mass on one of my kidneys. Receiving this news has been incredibly shocking and difficult to handle. I’ve been so scared, but I have had the full support of my family, doctors, and nurses. I had surgery yesterday to remove the tumor. The surgery was successful and I was able to keep the rest of my kidney. I am in recovery at the hospital and have been in a lot of pain post-surgery, but I am grateful. My doctor said there is a 60/40 chance that the tumor was malignant versus benign (we will know soon), but I am young, healthy, and feel fortunate that this was detected so early. While this is deeply personal news, I don’t want rumors to spread, or for anyone to worry in case people say they saw me at the hospital. (Next time, just say “hi”) • I am going to try and stay positive and focus on my recovery. I appreciate all of the support and good vibes sent my way. My fingers are crossed, too. ❤️

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“I got my pathology report back — the tumor that was successfully removed on Saturday was unfortunately malignant (cancer). (SDH)-deficient renal cell carcinoma,” the 25-year-old figure skater revealed in an Instagram post on Dec. 20.

“This wasn’t the news I was hoping for, but I am beyond thankful that it was detected early and that my surgery went well,” she went on. “No further treatment is required at this time — the next steps are for me to continue focusing on recovering and healing. All of the positive thoughts and support mean so much to me. My heart is so full. Thank you. ❤️”

SDH-deficient renal cell carinoma is an extremely rare subtype of renal cell carinoma (RCC), and as of November 2018, only 55 cases have been reported around the world, according to Health.com, citing a study published in BMC Urology.

While “there are currently no diagnostic or therapeutic guidelines in place to guide management,” a review in the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine insists that “SDH-deficient RCCs are uniformly low grade and have a favorable prognosis.”

In a follow-up Instagram post, Maia updated her followers on how she was doing following the surgery on Dec. 16.

 

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All of the messages of love and positivity have meant a lot and are so appreciated. Generally, things are moving in the right direction. I had to spend an extra night in the hospital following my surgery, but I was discharged yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, the pain post-surgery has been worse than I anticipated. I’ve had my fair share of injuries in skating and I’m used to muscle and bone stuff, but this is different. It was explained to me that since I am young and in good shape, my muscles and nerves are really sensitive. Walking and making even smaller body movements is currently very painful and extremely challenging. It’s been tough to not feel discouraged and weak, but focusing on gratitude has really helped. My parents are with me and Alex was able to support me through those difficult first steps. I’m grateful for all of the messages of encouragement – I feel very cared for and supported. This recovery will take time and I’m still waiting on news, but I’m determined to come back stronger.

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“I’ve had my fair share of injuries in skating and I’m used to muscle and bone stuff, but this is different,” she wrote, accompanied by a photo of her at the hospital with her brother and skating partner, Alex Shibutani.

Maia revealed that things appear to be looking up, but she’s taking everything one step at a time.

“It was explained to me that since I am young and in good shape, my muscles and nerves are really sensitive. Walking and making even smaller body movements is currently very painful and extremely challenging,” she continued.

Her friends and family have been with her every step of the way.

“It’s been tough to not feel discouraged and weak, but focusing on gratitude has really helped. My parents are with me and Alex was able to support me through those difficult first steps. I’m grateful for all of the messages of encouragement — I feel very cared for and supported,” she wrote.

Maia is motivated to make a strong comeback and her brother Alex had the same sentiments.

“The strongest and most courageous person I know. ❤️” Alex said of his sister in an Instagram post.

Feature Image via maiashibutani

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