Dealing with Bladder Cancer's Aftermath
Dealing with bladder cancer is much akin to going to war. It is a fight for your life. People very often understand the struggles we experience while going through treatment, but it is rare that people discuss the aftermath of it all. It is even rarer that they understand that just because we've got the "all clear" from the specialists does not mean that we no longer are dealing with things.
Cancer-free doesn't mean problem-free
So many outsiders, family included, assume that just because you are no longer in active treatment and are deemed "cancer-free" means that you should not have any bladder cancer-related struggles. Unfortunately, for many, myself included, this is far from the truth.
Fatigue, pain, insurance battles, and more
Many of us deal with a barrage of things after we are done with treatment. Ongoing testing is usually necessary. Some of us may need transfusions at some point. Many of us deal with UTIs regularly. The threat of sepsis can be very real, especially if you have your procedure towards the end of your active treatment. Keeping up with and/or fighting insurance over medical supplies can be a time-consuming and stressful task. Chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy causes numbness and pain for many. Hearing loss and tinnitus can make daily communications more challenging. Exhaustion and fatigue are nearly ever-present. PTSD and medical traumas cause anxiety and depression among other things. Just to name a few. Some of us may deal with these for the remainder of our lives. Not to mention other non-cancer-related diagnoses that come into play.
Being open about the difficulties after cancer
On any day, dealing with these things can be a challenge, especially when people think everything's fine now. The fact of that matter is, once you've gone through bladder cancer, there is a high possibility that everything is not always fine.
We have good days and not so good days. Sometimes, we have downright horrible days. It's not always rainbows, puppies, and unicorns. However, we need to openly talk about these ongoing issues we experience, especially with those closest to us. It is okay to say no sometimes. It is okay to ask for understanding from others. Sometimes it's necessary to delay doing and just be still.
Take care of yourself
We are warriors, yes, but even warriors get tired. Be sure to take care of yourself first and set boundaries with those who cannot hear you saying that you're struggling with ongoing issues.
I've learned these lessons myself. Sometimes I cancel, take my meds and curl up in a ball under heated blankets just to alleviate the pain. Especially in winter. I talk with my friends and loved ones about the things I'm still dealing with and I keep my doctors in the loop.
I would love to hear how you all are combatting your aftermath issues. Let us know!
Have your views towards bladder removal changed since you were diagnosed?