3 Things That Helped Me Recover From Bladder Cancer Surgery

When my urologist told me that my bladder cancer surgery would be an outpatient procedure, I almost jumped for joy. I have known several people with a cancer diagnosis who have had to undergo extensive, hours-long surgeries followed by weeks of chemotherapy, so comparatively, my surgery seemed like a breeze. I could eat right away and go home just a few hours after it was finished. Score!

Recovering from a TURBT procedure

But even though my surgery – called a Trans-Urethral Resection of Bladder Tumor, or TURBT – was fairly easy, it was still a surgical procedure. The surgery would last just a couple hours, but the recovery, physical and emotional, would last weeks and weeks. Here are three things that were key in helping me get back on my feet.

Accepting help at home

When it came time for my surgery, I obviously had to clear my schedule. But for everyone else, life went on. Our kids had to be dropped off at school, dinner had to be made, laundry had to be washed. My husband and four-year-old son came with me to the hospital on the morning of my surgery to drop me off and wish me luck – but as soon as I went under, my husband started the mad dash of school drop-offs and dinner pickups. It was a lot of work, and I was completely out of commission (at least that day).

We were filled with gratitude

Which is why when my mom came to pick me up and take me home, my husband and I were both flooded with gratitude. It was a gesture that my mom insisted was “no big deal,” but it was a very big deal to us, two busy parents who were struggling to juggle daily life at the moment. For the next week or so, my mom and a few family friends stopped by the house to drop off meals or help fold laundry, and it was humbling to accept what they gave us.

Allowing myself to focus on recovery

Just a day before my diagnosis, and about a week before my surgery, I accepted a huge writing project from an editor of mine, not thinking that the “mass” they found on my bladder would be anything serious. But when I got the news that the mass was likely cancerous and would need to be removed, writing projects were the last thing on my mind. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, reeling from the news that I had cancer – and I hadn't even had surgery yet. A couple days after surgery – long before the deadline – I decided to come clean with my editor. I called her and let her know that although I was grateful for the opportunity, sleeping and learning how to use a catheter had to be my first priority. Of course she understood – and I was relieved that I could focus on recovery instead of an upcoming deadline.

Finding comfort in prayer

Everyone deals with cancer differently. For me, someone who's always been fairly religious, praying and asking other to pray for me lifted my spirits in a way that nothing else could. Personally, I prayed a novena (a nine-day prayer) to St. Gerard, the patron saint of people struggling with cancer, and I was comforted to think that I was not the only one who has asked for his intercession. Even if my prayers for a full and speedy recovery weren't answered, simply knowing that someone up there heard me made me feel a little better. And knowing that my friends and family and even total strangers were praying for my recovery made me feel better, too.

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