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Axel Reissnecker: Outrunning Cancer

Axel Reissnecker

"Treatments we thought were impossible just 10-20 years ago are now possible, whether it's killing the cancer entirely or lengthening your lifespan. So I always say, don't worry too much - a positive outlook is always helpful."

Axel Reissnecker
Renal Cancer

Axel Reissnecker knew from the moment of diagnosis that letting his cancer treatment get in the way of his active lifestyle wasn’t an option. With an unrelentingly positive outlook, adaptability, and the right treatment approach, Axel was able to choose what quality of life would look like during treatment. For him, that meant continuing his commitment to endurance training through outdoor activity.

Staying on Course and Staying Optimistic

During a visit to the hospital due to difficulty breathing, the last thing Axel expected to hear was that his symptoms were the result of a larger issue. He was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma, which had spread from his kidney to his sinuses. With uncertainty clouding his vision of the future, Axel met with Dr. Debra Patt, a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Austin Central, and was reassured to find that, like him, she was confident the right treatment was possible. For Axel, positive reinforcement and the promise that Texas Oncology would take care of him was extremely important.

“Dr. Patt said they could take care of me, and I really liked to hear that,” Axel said. “Being a glass half full guy, it was great to know that my care team was confident in new treatment approaches.”

That positive mindset not only affected his treatment approach, but also his life beyond cancer. Through two surgeries to remove the tumor from his sinuses and his left kidney, multiple cycles of chemotherapy drugs, quality of life remained an important consideration for Axel and the care team. Recognizing that fighting the disease is only part of the journey, allowing him to continue racing was a priority throughout treatment. The type of chemotherapy he needed caused a hand-foot syndrome which made running and training impossible toward the end of each cycle, but he didn’t slow down. Scheduling events around his treatment plan, Axel’s participation in long-distance races resumed just three weeks after his second surgery and continues today, as a six-year survivor and with the ongoing support of his Texas Oncology team.

“Science now supports that an active lifestyle is important – especially for cancer patients,” Axel said. “Good nutrition and an active lifestyle, combined with chemotherapy and surgery help to fight the cancer and basically keep it in check.”

Six years in of having metastatic kidney cancer, Axel remains without evidence of cancer, on chronic treatment, and living well.

Key Learnings from a Patient’s Perspective

Axel continues looking toward the future, with several races planned for the coming six months, but acknowledges that a fight against cancer requires adaptability. While looking back on his journey so far, here are some other key learnings Axel has to share with others:

Accept things as they are. When I used to do the runs, finishing was never a question – I would always finish. It was more a question of how long it would take. Now, it’s not always possible, but you learn to live with what I call ‘little defeats,’ and it makes you stronger. You learn to be less concerned about small things and look more at the bigger picture. It’s important to always be both realistic and positive.

Don’t take it as a death sentence. All of the treatments available today – it’s unbelievable. We really have made so much progress in the last couple years. Whether it involves killing the cancer entirely or lengthening your lifespan, treatments we thought were impossible just 10-20 years ago are now possible. Don’t worry too much – a positive outlook is always helpful.

Listen to your oncologist. Talk with them in detail and don’t be afraid to bring up things. They will guide and help you.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.