Dianne Kay on Beating Kidney Cancer

Despite her success on the big and small screen, Dianne Kay has experienced her fair share of pain. Not only did she lose her onscreen mom and older sister from “Eight Is Enough,” but Kay also just survived a battle with kidney cancer.

Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
diane kay image
Dianne Kay
Photograph: Jack Silvera

More: Congratulations on surviving cancer.
DK: Had I not caught it early, and if the tumor had grown another centimeter and a half, it would have gone outside the capsule of the kidney, and then I would have been in trouble.

More: How did you catch it?
DK: I have no history of cancer in my family. Back in 2001 I wasn’t feeling terrific, but I attributed it to being tired and taking care of a toddler. I had an MRI, and one doctor saw something the size of a thumbnail on my right kidney. Not only did I also have a bout of sciatica, but while I was sleeping a strong feeling woke me up and said, You call your doctor right away. And so I did. From there I had an ultrasound, and that showed I needed a urologist, and they needed to do a CAT scan.

More: How scary.
DK: I knew I wasn’t feeling well, and that my body was telling me something was wrong. They took that kidney out, and luckily I have another kidney.

More: What went through your mind when they told you it was cancer?
DK: It is an out-of-the-body experience. You are saying to yourself, No. This is not me. I didn’t have time to be afraid. I was just like, “Get it out.” But having cancer also allowed me to find an inner strength I never knew I had before. For me, I had to take the bull by the horns and say, Let’s get this alien out because I have a husband and a son.

More: You saw the images of your husband and son flash before you right there?
DK: That certainly was a motivating force to get it done and move forward.

More: Was telling your son that you had cancer one of the hardest conversations you’ve ever had?
DK: Yes, because he is an only child, and I am an older parent. I am sure this was very frightening for him. He was really scared, but the outcome was positive. I think this was a wake-up call for us.

More: Did you need any follow-up treatment?
DK: Luckily it was encapsulated, but I do go for regular follow-up visits.

More: Now that you have this new lease on life, have you done anything daring and bold?
DK: Doing this show is the boldest move I have ever taken. I have been a closet writer. Matter of fact, when my son was little I would write children’s stories for him. His favorite story is “Betty Laverne and Ruby Louise Were Two Little Girls Who Hated Their Peas.” Getting that story published and having my show Seconds picked up would be the top two things I would put on my bucket list.

Click here to read our interview with Barbara Eden.

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First Published June 15, 2011

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