Diagnosed at age 53 in 2011 with non-invasive bladder cancer
I was diagnosed with minimally invasive bladder cancer in March, 2011. I was completely shocked by the diagnosis! I had been having some symptoms such as pain and dark colored urine for several months, but I thought they were connected to menopause. When I went in for my annual mammogram and pelvic ultrasound the radiologist was extremely concerned because she identified a probable tumor on my bladder. I consulted with a urologist the following week. After quizzing me about my risk factors and hearing nothing alarming, he said that he would prefer to check me the following week as a precaution. He also said he did not expect to find anything. However, the cystoscopy and urine cytology clearly revealed that I had bladder cancer.
My transurethral resection of a bladder tumor (TURBT) occurred the following week. I didn’t realize that I’d go home for a few days with a catheter. I can tell you, I was ready to have it out the next day! I was fortunate and my healing was smooth. I did panic a bit, when four weeks out there was blood in my urine, because I didn’t understand this was part of the healing process. I was fortunate again in that I tolerated my six weekly instillations of Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) with minimal symptoms. I just felt kind of funky the day after the last two treatments. I did not feel great for quite some time after my BCG treatments were over.
I try to find the things that help me stay centered and look at the illness as a journey. You have to figure out how to stay spiritually balanced, nourish your body, drink enough fluids, get enough rest and exercise so you are strong enough to have a happy trip. I work hard at not worrying. Sometimes I win that battle and sometimes I don’t. I try to make sure I continue with my diet and exercise. My first grandchild was born in February and I am looking forward to helping my daughter and husband with the baby. I do have to exercise a lot of personal discipline to make sure my work/life balance is on an even keel (I tend to be a workaholic), so I’ve added a spiritual practice for a few minutes each morning, to help me remember what is most important. Lastly, I am blessed to be part of a special group of friends on Facebook who support one another. Knowing that I can talk about whatever is bothering me, whatever I’m worried about, share my news good or bad makes all the difference. Even though my family is supportive, no one understands how it feels like someone who is also waging the same war.
The advice I would give to women about bladder cancer is to take a kindergartner’s approach to peeing!
- Urgency: If you have to go, just go. Don’t hold it!
- Frequency: If you’re going a lot, it’s a real problem and it’s okay to tell someone about it.
- Color: If it looks funny it probably is and it’s okay to tell someone about it. Ideally the “someone” is a doctor.