I Wasn't About to Fold My Tent
I thought I’d take a break from my journey to give you a little information about what my life has been like since being diagnosed. I consider myself to be a pretty positive guy, my positive attitude was put to a severe test when I first found out I had bladder cancer. If you’ve been following my story, you know it’s been nine years. My oncologist, Dr. Alexander Zlotta, and his team fought for me for 8 years before we finally decided the bladder had to come out. I was tested many times during that time, from being told on numerous occasions that my cancer had gone, only to be let down again with word that the tumors had returned. I think it was harder on my family than it was on me.
They’re the ones on the outside looking in, unable to do anything but offer support. And even for them, sometimes it was difficult. I didn’t want to burden them with my problem; I didn’t want them to worry. Of course, that was like asking the sun not to shine.
A firm belief that I would beat this thing
What kept me going was the firm belief that I would beat this thing, that it wouldn’t take me, that I wouldn’t allow it to take me. People would often say to me, “You’re so brave, you’re so positive.” I never thought of myself as being brave. I was doing what I had to do to survive. My regular response was that “I wasn’t about to fold my tent.” That included opening up and making myself available to whoever wanted to talk about cancer. I had heart to heart talks with my kids, reassuring them that I wasn’t going to die. I was brutally honest with my wife Melanie if I was down or depressed or feeling alone. I saw my therapist regularly; he was a great help, the kind of unbiased individual who wasn’t afraid to call me out if I was a little too over-dramatic.
I kept working through the cystoscopies and TURBTs, and there were a lot of them. I was teaching at the time, and never told my students what was going on. They didn’t need to know, and I didn’t want to burden them. I also kept as physically active as possible. I started riding a bicycle, and today I’m an avid cyclist riding 4-5 times a week up to 60 miles per day. I love it, it’s great therapy. I rode every summer in the “Tour for Kids,” a four-day ride here in Canada that raised funds for kids’ cancer research. I met some great people and made some valuable friendships, and I felt good about giving something back.
It’s been a tough road, I’m not going to lie to you, but the bottom line is if you can maintain a positive attitude and have a great support system, it makes road a lot easier to travel. I learned very quickly that I was not alone in my struggle.
How well does your healthcare provider understand your bladder cancer?