I was diagnosed with bladder cancer at age 82 on August 1st, 2018. We had just returned from a family trip to Africa to revisit some of the places in our family history. It was the trip of a lifetime for all of us. Then this hit me like a bolt out of the blue.
I had never smoked, the major risk factor for bladder cancer, but there are many other lesser risk factors, ranging from pesticides to parasitic infections. As my urologist said, we may never know exactly what caused my bladder cancer. The important thing is to focus on how to treat it most effectively.
Here is my history as it unfolded.
August 1, 2018: I went to nearby Baptist Emergency Hospital because of painful bloody urination that struck me out of the blue. I was treated kindly and efficiently. After initial tests, the doctor treated me with a Foley catheter and referred me to a specialist in urology.
August 6. 2018: I was assigned to Dr. G as a new patient and had my first visit with him today. After checking me in and reviewing my E.R. record, he took a quick look into my bladder. He said that he saw feathery fronds covering a third to half of the internal bladder surface. They were typical of a superficial type of bladder cancer. He scheduled me for cystoscopic bladder surgery two weeks later to confirm the diagnosis and scrape away as much of the bladder growth as possible.
This gave me plenty of time to review bladder cancer and its treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, a little over 80,000 new cases of bladder cancer will occur this year, most of them in men. It’s the fourth most common cancer in men and will cause about 17,700 deaths this year. It’s clearly not a disease to be taken lightly.
Initial treatment options depend on the stage of the cancer when diagnosed. We will learn the stage of my bladder cancer after Dr. G does my diagnostic bladder surgery.
[Blog to be continued next week.]