Marlene Kravitz Shares Her Story About Losing Her Son To RMC

  • October 03, 2018

Matthew Pennington, Age 37, lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Matthew was diagnosed with RMC in January of 2016 and passed away three months later.  His mother, Marlene has consented to sharing her story with other parents who may be faced with the same or possibly different catastrophic illness such as Cancer. Here is where her story begins.

Matthew first started seeing blood in his urine in August, 2015; a fact that he did not mention until he was fighting for his life.  He finally told his stepfather and me in October after his wife walked by the bathroom and was horrified by the smell.  Why did he wait so long to say something, to take any action?

Edward Matthew Pennington was the second of my two sons, just 37 when he died.  He was married for three years and not quite ready for children.  He and his wife came over for dinner every Wednesday night. I cooked, we ate, we laughed and loved being together as a family.

Once Matthew started seeking a medical diagnosis, he endured test after test after test. In January 2016, he had a nephrectomy. We still didn’t have a diagnosis, but removing the bad kidney was the best option for diagnosis and treatment.  As he and his wife were walking down the hospital corridor for his surgery, I took a picture of them from behind.  My thought at the time was that they were walking towards the unknown and things would never be the same.  I worked in the medical field for 30 years and knew that cancer patients often go into the hospital for treatment, which most times means slowly cutting away parts of the patient. That thought flashed through my mind.

Two weeks after surgery we finally had a diagnosis.  Of course, I had done the thing we tell people not to do; I Googled kidney cancer (Renal Medullary Carcinoma-RMC). Those words stuck a sword through my heart.  Everyday thereafter it was just making ourselves take one day at a time and making sure we were seeing the right people and doing the right things.

From diagnosis to death was only seven weeks and five days.  That is not much time to get use to the fact that your child is dying.  I am still not use to him being gone.

I don’t want this piece to just be about all the doctors’ appointments, invasive procedures he endured, the meltdown I had outside his hospital room or the sleep we all lost.  Painful as they are these memories are never far from my mind.  I want this also to be about awareness.  As I said before, why did Matthew wait so long to say something?  Why did the medical professionals we saw seem so stumped by his symptoms?  We live in a city with very good available medical care.  Why are insurance companies not more willing to allow referrals to competing medical facilities?  Being carriers of sickle cell trait and the possible ramifications never was in my realm of possible explanations.

I know that I am not the first and only mother to lose a child or multiple children, but wouldn’t it be beyond words, wonderful if I was the last?