How Do You Process That?

Last updated: April 2020

Long ago in a galaxy far away, I was dealing with chemo for bladder cancer as a precursor to a full cystectomy and prostatectomy. I was getting the weekly doses (with every third week off) and going about my daily life. That included having lunch with friends now and then. Some friends I had shared by situation with, some I didn’t.

Stigma around cancer below the waist

Funny how cancer below the waist seems to have more social stigma than cancer above the waist. We talk about lung, throat, breast or brain cancer pretty easily. No one ever really hides those diagnoses. But for me anyway, talking about bladder cancer seemed a bit different. I really didn’t want a lot of people to know. No one at work for sure. Again, don’t ask me why; I’m just weird that way. I did share with family, of course, and with a very few close friends. Even some of my close friends I kept in the dark until they called to yell at me for not telling them after they heard about it from someone who said they wouldn’t say anything. (Note to self – people always talk.)

"How do you process that?"

But back to my story. I was having lunch with a friend, one I had told about my situation. During the lunch we were chatting about work and families, the normal stuff. We talked about my health and what the doctors were saying. Then he stopped and asked me, “How do you process that?” Meaning, how do you process hearing you have cancer, that you’ll need chemo, that you’ll need 8-hour surgery, that you may have to wear a diaper the rest of your life or have a bag attached to side? That is what he asked.

My answer. And the answer 99% of people give.

“You just do.”

Yep. No magic. No special tricks. You just do.

And that is because you don’t have other options, do you? You need to get up for work. You need to be there for your family. You need to go to the doctor.

You just do.

I think I'm still processing my cancer

I think I’m still processing it. I still get mad some days that I can’t go 4 or 5 hours without worrying I might leak when I stand up. I still worry when I get a scan that they’ll tell me they see something on the image. I still worry. You never really stop processing. But you do move on. You do have great days. And days you leak. #Fact.

You will get through it

But like me. You will get through it. You will get better. You will be back to 99% of your old self, and if you’re really working it – 110% better because now you’re exercising when you hadn’t in the past, or you're eating better because this was a wake-up call.

Don’t worry. You’ll process it just fine and you’ll adapt to your new normal.


You just do.

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