While older men are the most likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer, imagine our surprise when BCAN met Mike Bartlett and his daughter Kristin Hoisington at the 2018 Houston Walk to End Bladder Cancer. Fifty-seven-year-old Mike was diagnosed with bladder cancer
in 2016, after his primary care physician sent him to a urologist to determine the cause of the blood in his urine. Though younger than the average aged patient, Mike attributes his diagnosis to his use of chewing tobacco, a habit he’d had since he was an adolescent. He quit all tobacco products cold turkey with his diagnosis. Click here to learn more about smoking and bladder cancer.
The same day Mike was diagnosed, his 31-year-old daughter Kristin had a CT scan because she was ill. She had her appendix removed that night. At first, they thought there was a shadow on the low- quality CT scan. But something on the image was troubling, and her doctor sent Kristin to the same urologist her father had seen. Kristin was also diagnosed with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer just three weeks after her Dad. When they found the tumor, Kristin remembered “the nurse in the room just about lost it, as much as I was losing it. The nurse said ‘I have never heard of this. Oh my gosh, your mom is just … How is your mom going to handle this?”’
But Carol Bartlett did handle it. She handled it for her husband, and for her daughter, and even for her son-in-law. “My husband knew, that my mom was going to help take care of me. He could continue working, so we can pay for these treatments,” said Kristin. “Honestly, I did not have any symptoms. If it had not been for having appendicitis, they would have never caught it. It could have been a lot worse than what it was. I learned from BCAN.org that women commonly get misdiagnosed over and over. Even if I had shown symptoms, because of my age, there’s a good chance that the doctors would have still thought it was something besides bladder cancer.”
Mike and Kristin used the same primary care physician. Kristin explains, “She was actually the one who, after my appendicitis, said, ‘I know we sent your dad to the urologist. Because of this shadow on your scan, let’s just be extra safe and have you go see the urologist too.’ If she did not already know what my dad was also going through, I would not have felt that my father’s diagnosis was relevant to tell her about. She may not have thought to send me onto the urologist. Using the same urologist who knew that we were both going through this, our entire family was included in the process and that helped us in the long run. We know going to the same family doctor definitely had a lot of benefits in our case.” Mike added, “My son went to see a different doctor in the same urology practice for kidney stones. I think they are doing a better job of checking him, now that we have been diagnosed.”
After two TURBT’s for Mike and one for Kristin, this father-daughter team started BCG treatments together. Though they began with the same urologist, Mike’s insurance did not cover his BCG treatments. He then started treatment at the local VA hospital where he received an instillation with mitomycin after his TURBT. Mike is seeing better results now, with no new tumors appearing. While at the VA, Mike also received a pamphlet about BCAN.
When asked what message they wish BCAN readers will take away from their story, Mike immediately replied “don’t give up hope. A lot of things start running through your brain when you find out you have cancer. It is a very scary situation. You do not know what the outcome will be, because you can’t find out the next day. That takes time. We just put our trust in the Lord and keep on going with life. We prayed that everything would happen like it’s supposed to.
Participating in the BCAN Walk to End Bladder Cancer made me realize, that there are a lot of people out there, and a lot of support. Many people don’t talk about bladder cancer. It threw me for a loop seeing how many people there were at the Walk. Knowing that we’re not alone was important.” Kristin agreed, “The BCAN Walk was definitely comforting. Hearing the doctors speak about the advances in treatments that day, also gives me hope that bladder cancer may not affect my life on the level that I’m worried that it might. It’s easy to panic when you hear the word “cancer.” I was finishing my degree when I was diagnosed, in my last semester of college. I didn’t have room for stress or worry. I just had to say, ‘It is what it is. I’ve just got to trust in the doctors and keep moving forward. The doctors know what they’re doing.’ But do your research and be well- informed yourself, so you know what to expect.”