I believe that my battle with bladder cancer added purpose to my life and has set me on a special mission to begin a battle against this disease.
I had always been very prompt about getting check-ups and visiting my gynecologist. One summer about nine years ago, I went for my yearly check-up and tests at my gynecologist. Shortly after that visit, I began to have discomfort urinating and discomfort in my pelvic area. I returned to the gynecologist for another visit to find out what was wrong. Her diagnosis was a bladder infection. I was treated for a bladder infection for a year (I had never had one in my life) when it was actually bladder cancer. Luckily, my gynecologist went out of town and the partner looked at my test results, referred me to an excellent urologist and even scheduled the appointment. My cancer was already invasive and involved the entire left side of my bladder.
Once I was diagnosed, I began to do research for knowledge about this type of cancer and treatments. I found nothing that was positive and little information for women and what I did find was very negative. I am not a negative person and I was not about to let myself be brainwashed into being one. My urologist scheduled surgery when he could get the team he wanted to work with together. He told me it would involve a radical hysterectomy, removal of the bladder and depending on if the cancer had spread anywhere else, they would decide what to do at that point.
I searched the web and found information on an Indiana Pouch that I took to him. We discussed the possibilities. He said that if the cancer had not spread to other parts of the body we could take that route. While I waited for surgery and after, I listened only to music that was uplifting, I watched only positive things on television and I wrote. My surgery was a success. That has been almost eight years ago. I feel my recovery was due to my doctor's care and his wisdom. Even though I had a great doctor and he did wonders, there was no support for the emotional or the after-surgery issues that had to be faced. Even when the medical care is excellent, there are still emotional issues that bladder cancer patients experience that are not addressed. There are no local bladder cancer support groups. There are no marathons or large fundraising events to support this type of cancer. However, I hope to change that.
Over the years, I have written poetry. I wrote a lot during my recovery. My writing served as a catharsis to help me cope with the issues I faced. Now I have three books published, I will be donating all of my royalties to bladder cancer education, support and research. Because the American Bladder Cancer Society offers the most comprehensive information source available, I want my royalties to go toward supporting it and keeping it alive and well for others who need such a place. I am booking speaking engagements anywhere I can to get the information that is so lacking out to the public.
It is time that the public is made aware of what is at risk, and more about this disease that is ranked 5th overall for both men and women combined. I want them to know that identifying this disease is vital to their very survival. What I may do may only be a small pebble that is being thrown into a large lake, but maybe the ripples it makes will transform into waves that helps to keep an organization alive that has been needed for a long time. I am very fortunate, I am alive and I work everyday. I feel that I have a responsibility to do my part to help others who walk the same road and inform the rest so they are knowledgeable. I can only hope that others will join my quest to get this message out and help to save lives. If you want to learn more about bladder cancer, please visit the American Bladder Cancer Society’s website.