Recurrent Bladder Cancer is Unpredictable and Variable
No one is prepared for a cancer diagnosis, in my opinion. No one tells the doctor, "I think it's cancer." Cancer is unpredictable and variable with each occurrence. I imagine the diagnosis is frightening. Doctors don't always know how to break the news. Sometimes they just carelessly blurt it out. Other times they don't tell the whole story. In my case, the urologist never spoke the word cancer. He said, "You have something." The thought of cancer didn't occur to me until two years later.
What happened to the right to know?
I read about a man who had advanced renal cell carcinoma. He didn't know he had cancer even while receiving chemotherapy. Finally, after all the treatments had failed, the man was sent home to die. He must have been terrified.
Fortunately, he made a full recovery through alternative healing. But what happened to his right to know? What happened to mine? The man's doctor probably wanted to spare him trauma. My doctor probably wanted to ease my fears, as well. And yet, the man with advanced renal cell carcinoma and I were entitled to full disclosure. We had the right to know what was or was not going to kill us.
Better still, we had the right to make our own treatment decisions.
I thought I was cured
My bladder cancer recurred several times between 2005 and 2013. Treatments included two chemotherapy instillations. My last resection followed by mitomycin led to a 9-year remission. For that reason, I thought I was cured.
But in 2021, a cystoscopy found two small neoplasms in my bladder. The resection procedure revealed a 3-centimeter cluster of papillary growths. Apparently, we caught the strange formation before it caused symptoms. Then again, bladder cancer is unpredictable and variable. In this case, it just returned quietly.
The cancer could keep returning
My bladder cancer has remained low-grade and non-metastatic for 16 years. Aside from that, each experience has been different. With every diagnosis, I have made lifestyle changes. So, why does the cancer keep returning? That is what low-grade bladder cancer does.1
The doctor explained how my cell DNA was damaged through chemical exposure. He believes that my entire bladder is malignant. So, the cancer could keep forming in various places. If it does, I will continue to treat it as a chronic disease. But first, I must enlist the best bladder cancer care team available.
There is hope for survivorship
The American Cancer Society has predicted nearly 2 million new cases in 2021. That is far too many cases. On the bright side, there is hope as survivorship for some cancers increases. That gives me hope for the future. A cancer prognosis is as uncertain as to the diagnosis, but survival is possible.2,3
I am inspired by a friend who is going through maintenance therapy for ovarian cancer. Yes, she has tearful moments of exhaustion. But she also has a thriving spirit. She desires to live vibrantly so she can support other women's cancer journeys.
I plan to join her in advocating for advanced research and early detection. This is for all cancer survivors.