Bladder Cancer Recurrence: the Anxiety that Follows
There's a reason it's called the monkey mind. The brain's natural resting place, for many, is worry. And bladder cancer, with its high rate of recurrence, can certainly give the mind much to fret about.
It's a topic most of you are familiar with — which is why we wanted to open up a conversation on the topic. To hear more, we reached out on the BladderCancer.net Facebook community, asking: Do you think about bladder cancer coming back?
Nearly 80 of you weighed in, sharing your struggles about how hard it is to stand up to the nearly daily worries of this diagnosis. Here's what you had to say about the struggle, and how to get through it.
Whenever a routine cystoscopy comes around
It makes sense that going in for a test would trigger worries. Of course, any physical exam sparks worry that everything will be OK — and waiting for the results can be rough, especially with a disease that is known for a high chance of recurrence.
"Whenever a routine cystoscopy comes around, I become anxious as I had three occurrences in less than 18 months."
"Yes, I do every time I get ready for a scope. It came back once already with a CIS this time. It's scary but I'm now getting BCG. Hope it keeps working and I can keep getting the follow-up treatments."
Everybody thinks about recurrence
For nearly every patient who has ever been handed a cancer diagnosis, it's hard not to think about the "C-word" now and again. The trick is to let that thought pass through like any other thought. Everyone is most likely already doing everything in their power to beat cancer, so thinking about it is not really helpful. The worry itself is like a cancer—it's destructive if left untreated. If you can, do something — anything — to beat the worries just as you do to beat cancer. If you have to think about something, redirect your mind to imagining yourself healthy and 100 percent cancer-free. What does it look like to be cancer-free for you? What does it feel like? Let your mind rest on these thoughts.
"How can a common-sense, self-aware individual, not think of bladder cancer's potential come back?"
"Everybody who has had cancer thinks about it coming back."
The anxiety of recurrence in bladder cancer
One of the hardest parts of bladder cancer is that it can require frequent treatments, which means more time in hospitals. And when you're in a hospital, it's hard to keep the mind from going to a bad place. If possible, bring a positive-thinking friend with you on your next treatment. Or, ask a friend, loved one, or group of friends to write a card that you can open on your next visit to the hospital when you're most in need of positive encouragement that you will get through this.
"Back for the fourth time in 15 months. Try not to think about it... Only when I have pain."
"Only all of the time. My husband just completed 12 rounds of chemo. He is 52 and Stage 4. It's hard for me/us to go a day without thinking of recurrence."
I don't dwell on it
Thoughts come and thoughts go. For many, happiness lies in not clinging to the bad thoughts but rather, working to let them go.
"I think about it every day. I don't dwell on it, though."
"I think about it but you can't worry all the time. You can just take one day at a time."
"I don't let it get me down"
Life is happening regardless of what is on your mind. While it's easier said than done, it is helpful to take each day as it comes and be thankful for the good days and the test results that come back clean. The more you can train your mind to live in a place of gratitude, the more at peace you can be with all of it.
"Yes, but I still live my life I don't let it get me down. I'm in God's hands."
"Of course, I think about it. With the high recurrence rate of bladder cancer, it's something that is always with you. Doesn't mean you don't live a happy and contented life — it just means you're aware of the possibilities."
We want to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who wrote in with how they are handling bladder cancer. We appreciate you being a part of this community.
How long did it take to get diagnosed after your first symptom(s) appeared?