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A man talking to a woman and the woman is imaging throwing a pie in his face

More Lessons I Have Learned

See Part 1: Lessons I Have Learned to read about some more of the takeaways Anita shares from her experiences with bladder cancer.

Comparisons can hurt

There are many things people will say to you when they learn of your bladder cancer, and most are an attempt to make us feel better. Someone will know a friend of a friend’s friend who had the same cancer as yours and is doing fine now. These comments are hurtful. I remember saying that I didn’t care about so and so; this was about me, and actually, it didn’t look like I was going to be ok at all. I think probably the best thing to do is imagine throwing a custard pie in their face and smile sweetly. People try to make others feel better, it’s human nature. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always help.

Down days are normal

You will get told to “be brave” or “stay positive“. This, again, is unhelpful. You are going to do whatever you have to do to get through your treatment. You aren’t brave (or maybe you are), you are just living your life while also having cancer treatment. As for ‘being positive’ – of course, we are going to try to stay positive, but you cannot stay positive ALL the time! Just like people without cancer, you are going to have you down days, the days that suck. The days where all you want to do is cry and worry. THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL. So, do it! Scream, cry, shout, eat a whole packet of four chocolate bars – you are allowed.

Be kind to yourself

You are going through a lot. There are going to be times where you are so exhausted you can’t carry on as normal… so don’t! Take time away from the hospitals, the appointments, everything. Arrange a trip out, even if it is just to a coffee shop for coffee and cake, or take a nice bubble bath and relax. Try and do “normal” things. These little treats really do help when you are having treatment.

Everyone will have an opinion about what they would do in your shoes. Just keep smiling at them and remember the custard pie.

Constant changes

Everything can change in a heartbeat so don’t get too hung up on changes in treatments; try and learn to go with the flow. This is harder than you think as we as humans like things to go as planned and get into a bit of a pickle when they don’t.

Please don’t worry when you get ‘good news’ but still feel ‘flat.’ This could be because we are full of anxiety and adrenaline. The adrenaline is there to prepare us for bad news, rushing through our bodies, and when we get good news, it has nowhere to go. That’s why you might not feel as overjoyed as you think you should feel. Good news always seems to take a few days to deal with.

Support clubs

I know when I was first diagnosed, I wanted nothing to do with any support clubs, thinking that I could do this journey on my own, and for the most part, I was okay. But, let me tell you about how wonderful having support from people who are going through something similar to you can be. Oh gosh, I experienced this when having my bladder removed.

I felt connected

It was fabulous. I felt connected, there were people who were willing to go through their journey with me, helping me understand what was going to happen afterward, and giving me support on the days directly after my operation. They were telling me to “hang in there” and that it was “early days” and that I might not feel good right away. This helped me so much mentally. Being able to see others without their bladders, living fulfilling lives, some of them even going on adventures in a Tuk-Tuk.

My mantra that helped me through the darkest days

Last but not least, I want to share my favorite saying throughout this journey, and this was said to me by a dear friend, who had gone through breast cancer: “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” During my darkest of days, this helped me so much. It reminded me that I wouldn’t feel like I was feeling now forever, and that it would pass and I would feel myself again.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • rtpackard
    6 months ago

    I have had both bladder and prostate removed and have a ostomy. That I am learning to accept. The hardest part, I no longer feel a man, I am an “it” and it is hard to realize you will never be a man again. Wrapped your mind around this is very hard. Going on 2 years and still feel like a nobody

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    6 months ago

    @rtpackard, I can only imagine how difficult that must have been to have your bladder and prostate removed. It’s not just the time it takes time to recover, it takes time to wrap your mind around, or even come to accept it. You are so brave for coming here to talk. I hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone. There are many others here who have expressed similar thoughts after this major procedure and life change. Have you been able to talk to anyone about how you are feeling? Have you been able to return to the activities you enjoyed before your surgery? Or have you discovered any new hobbies? Keep in touch and know that we are here for you. -Sarah ( Team Member)

  • BillW
    8 months ago

    Custard pie is the best pie for throwing at people!

  • Anita Brown moderator author
    8 months ago

    @billw hahahaha I think you definitely have experience in throwing the custard pies, take care of you

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    8 months ago

    @billw – Your comment makes it sound like you might have some experience with that?! Haha. -Sarah ( Team Member)

  • gailvin
    8 months ago

    This was one of the best articles and describes my feelings when people say those things.
    But I also realize that they are trying to make me feel better. Their intentions are good.

  • Anita Brown moderator author
    8 months ago

    @gailvin I am really happy that this article resonated with you. It is hard knowing what to say to people when they are desperately trying to think of something nice to say and it comes out all wrong. I tell the people I know just to “be normal” with me and not to worry about saying anything positive or nice, hope you are well? xx

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    8 months ago

    @gailvin, We’re glad that Anita’s article resonated with you and described your same feelings about these things. It’s good to keep the perspective that they often mean well, and they are trying to make you feel better. Sometimes they simply don’t know what to say. How do you respond? Thank you for reading and commenting! -Sarah ( Team Member)

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