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Hugo Robledo: Kidney Cancer

In 1994, Hugo Robledo had seen better days. Recovering from seven months of unemployment, shoulder surgery and a death in the family, kidney cancer was the last thing he needed—but there it was, a large mass on the CAT scan.

With his mother-in-law’s death from cancer still fresh on his mind, Hugo thought, “I’m dead.” Indeed, things did look grim. MD Anderson surgeons took one look in February 1995 and closed Hugo up again, saying the nine-pound tumor needed to be shrunk before they could operate successfully. “I woke up in the hospital with my wife, Thelma, crying over me, and I really thought I was dead,” he remembers. “Turns out, she was upset because our truck had been stolen!”

Surgeons operated again a month later, but it was still touch-and-go. Hugo found out later that they stopped twice during the daylong procedure, but managed to pull him through.

Hugo was preparing for the worst, wrapping up his affairs and getting his son to convince Thelma to marry again after he was gone. While he might have given up, his family and friends did not. “My wife is a tough woman, and never cut me any slack,” he says. “My kids, Jennifer, Lori and Hugo Jr. have always been close to me, and they wouldn’t leave me alone.” 

These days, Hugo doesn’t believe in procrastination. He finally made good on longstanding promises to buy another Harley and take Thelma to Las Vegas. “I always lived for ‘one of these days,’ but not anymore. I live for today and tomorrow, and thank God if I’m here next year.”

View Hugo's Story

From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center