A man and speech bubbles appear behind an ostomy bag.

Dale's Story: Surviving Bladder Cancer and a Radical Cystectomy

Dale shared insight on his journey and how this experience has informed how he carries himself through life after bladder cancer and a radical cystectomy.

My diagnosis journey

I was diagnosed with stage 1 bladder cancer 16 years ago. It came as a shock, and it was very unexpected at my age at the time, 57. I was seemingly healthy, owned my own business, had a family, owned a home, was well regarded in my community. And then cancer hit.

I thought, "How can this be happening to me?"

Deciding on a radical cystectomy

After thinking about it and discussing it with my wife and my doctor, my choice was to accept the situation and deal with it.

After considering the options my decision was to have my bladder removed, a surgery called a radical cystectomy. This was not my only option but for me the best one in order to get the cancer out of my body.

Within less than 2 weeks from noticing some blood specs in my urine and a diagnosis of a cancerous tumor, my bladder, and the tumor was gone.

My bladder cancer experience

Fortunately for me, the cancer had not migrated beyond the wall of my bladder. There were no lingering problems, no more cancer. I'm healthy and happy.

Once I had my bladder removed they monitored me with CT scans and PET/CT scans for 18 months. After that, they were satisfied that I was "clean." That was 15 years ago.

Reflecting on the day I was diagnosed

I was sitting in my car getting ready to go into the local hospital to meet my newest granddaughter when my doctor called.

He said, "Well Dale, you have cancer." I wasn't surprised because my doctor had told me after finding the growth in my bladder that cancer was a possible diagnosis.

I wouldn't say that I have any obstacles, but I have to admit to having some challenges. Learning to live with my urostomy involved some learning, but my success has been all about attitude.

Through this experience, I have learned that I am much more than my urostomy. Much more...

Advice to the newly diagnosed

My advice? Listen to your doctor, go to an Ostomy Association meeting, and try to find someone that's had bladder cancer to talk to.

My ostomy does not define my life. It's just something to manage - not a handicap.

My bladder cancer experience

My membership with the St. Paul Ostomy Association, and my work helping other ostomates understand and deal with their situation has continued to help me through my own experience.

Listen to your body. My early diagnosis was because I didn't ignore the first sign of bladder cancer.

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