Diagnosed in 2008 at age 41 with bladder cancer
In August, 2008, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. At the time, I was a 41-year-old physically fit non-smoker and, like most, thought that bladder cancer was a disease that only affected male senior citizens. Before my diagnosis, following a bout with kidney stones, my local urologist had diagnosed me with chronic urinary tract infections.
In April, 2008, after voiding a huge amount of blood, I called my doctor’s office and a nurse told me that there was nothing to worry about because it always looks like there is more blood than there actually is, but, I could make another appointment if I wanted. I went with her opinion, but four months later, I again voided red blood. I called back and this time the nurse asked if maybe I was just menstruating. The bleeding continued for a week, so I insisted that my doctor perform a cystoscopy and the procedure revealed that I had a tumor in my bladder. Days later, I would be told that I not only had bladder cancer, but urinary bladder adenocarcinoma, an extremely rare form of the disease.
In September, I had a radical cystectomy with construction of a neobladder using a portion of my intestines. I now have been cancer free for over four years and never have been healthier. However, when I look back at my misdiagnosis, I shudder to think what might have happened if I had blindly followed my doctor’s diagnosis instead of listening to my intuition. Blood in the urine, known medically as hematuria, isn’t usually a reason for major alarm. However, it shouldn’t be ignored. All cases of hematuria should be evaluated by a urologist, who can order tests to confirm or rule out an underlying cause. That is what I did and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be alive today to tell my story.