Phyllis was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2012. Tumors were found on both kidneys and treated with surgery. Her cancer progessed to stage IV in 2014, but Phyllis says, “Here I am, ten years later! Life has changed, but it is good!”
For this month’s Community Spotlight, we are sharing the story of Lenny and Phyllis Chandler. Phyllis was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2012, and Lenny has been her steadfast support since. Here, they share her story, as well as Lenny’s quest to fund kidney cancer research in Phyllis’s honor.
A Kidney Cancer Diagnosis Inspires a Mission
Please tell a little about yourselves and Phyllis’s diagnosis.
We live in Delaware and are retired. We enjoy collecting old advertisements. We also enjoy walking with friends.
I was diagnosed in 2012 with tumors in both kidneys. At that time, I was treated with surgery. In 2014, the cancer had progressed to Stage IV, and I was again treated with surgery. I started systemic treatment in 2019. Here I am, ten years later. Life has changed, but it is good!
Lenny, how did Phyllis’s experience with kidney cancer lead to your “Steps for Phyllis” initiative?
I am so very proud of Phyllis’s fight.
I came up with the idea to do a research fundraiser while I was out walking. I asked a few friends and family members if they would support the cause, and they said yes. As they say, the rest is history!
I set a crazy goal of walking 1,000,000 steps and 500 miles in 30 days. I planned it as a surprise for my wife, and after talking with Bryan Lewis of KidneyCAN, I decided to call it “Steps for Phyllis.”
So many people supported us, not only with money but also by walking and pitching in. Our neighbors wanted to help, and their daughter Lillian, age 10, designed a logo for our event. She and her mom screen-printed the designs on t-shirts for us. (Phyllis and Lenny are pictured above with Lilly.)
When we told Phyllis and gave her a “Steps for Phyllis” shirt, she was quite surprised, to say the least!
I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen and kept the surprise.
With the help of our community, we reached our goal and were able to raise over $4500! Since it was so well-received, I would like it to be an annual event.
Lenny Chandler walked over 500 miles and one million steps in honor of his wife, Phyllis. His walking buddy here is their husky, Kita. Lenny raised over $4500 for kidney cancer research.
Tips for Those Facing a New Diagnosis
What advice or suggestions would you offer to someone caring for a loved one newly diagnosed with kidney cancer?
Try to be as supportive as possible! Also, try to help without being in the way. Whatever happens, I always try to be there.
Do your research. Ask questions, and be your own advocate! I learned that from Phyllis and have applied it to to my own challenges not related to cancer.
Advocates for Research Funding
What made you decide to advocate for kidney cancer research funding?
I felt so proud watching Phyllis as she discussed treatment options with her doctors. She researched before each of her visits so she would understand and ask any questions regarding next steps. In fact, some doctors appreciated her due diligence. One doctor has even said that Phyllis challenges him, in a good way. He has to be on his game!
What would you like clinicians and researchers to know about the impact of kidney cancer on a person’s life?
We need treatments that are not as hard on the patient as the disease can be. We have seen what some treatments can do to a body.
We need to keep up the fight for a cure!
Lenny stopped by the KidneyCAN office this fall to bring the checks he’d collected to fund kidney cancer research.