Chris Lytle

TN Tribune—It all started in November 2021, when Chris Lytle, 71, started finding it harder to walk to work.

“I had to start taking the elevator instead of walking up one flight of stairs,” said Chris. “I thought I was in pretty good shape. I’ve been a marathoner and skied the American Birkebeiner in my lifetime.”

A couple of weeks later, Chris and a friend were walking up a small incline through the scenic lookout mountain in Chattanooga. “All of a sudden I was panting and holding onto my knees for support,” said Chris. “I was in denial and blamed the altitude, but Lookout Mountain is only 2392 feet, so I was fooling myself.”

It was early December when Chris decided he needed to get checked out at a walk-in clinic. He received an x-ray and they diagnosed him with pneumonia. The medication they provided only lasted for about 10 days until he decided it was probably best he went to the ER. He arrived at CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, where he and his wife live.

“I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and had a resting heart rate of 155,” said Chris. A normal resting heart rate for men is between 60 to 100 beats per minute.

He spent a week in the hospital and was informed they would have to transfer him to Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West to receive additional care.

Chris arrived at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West on December 23rd and was seen by Dr. Don Chomsky, advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist.

“The plan was to receive an LVAD for my heart failure,” said Chris. “They had to run some additional tests and found that I had kidney cancer. The bad news was I couldn’t receive an LVAD but the good news was they could remove the kidney cancer. The team of doctors had to take a couple steps back and make this a priority. They provided me with a step by step of what was going to happen next. I always felt confident with my next plan. As a sales trainer and author, I know that healing is a process. I decided to work that process for all I was worth or as if my life depended on it.”

Chris was then transferred to Adnan Dervishi, urologist at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West. “Dr. Dervishi informed me that they found 2 problems,” said Chris. “I had stage 3 cancer on my right kidney and stage 2 cancer on my left.”

Dr. Dervishi discovered a duplex kidney on Chris’ right side and removed cancer from only the lower portion. Chris now has a fully functioning right kidney because of the fairly rare condition. On March 15th they removed the cancer on his left side and he is now cancer free. He started his cardiac rehab on January 25th and has been walking, doing 30 minutes of exercise daily and back to work part time. The team of doctors will then evaluate Chris for next steps on his cardiac plan.

“It’s really just one day at a time at this point,” said Chris. “I have learned to really stay in the present moment, start working on getting better, and listening to my doctors. If you start saying this shouldn’t be happening to you, you are automatically angry. You have to get in the mindset of what are you going to do next and move forward. I will continue to stay optimistic.”