A Rollercoaster Ride Like No Other
I had been fighting bladder cancer for close to seven years. It was a rollercoaster ride like no other. One month I was told my bladder was clear, three months later it was back. It got to the point I wouldn’t tell anyone anything when asked because I felt like I was crying wolf. How many times can you tell someone you’re healthy only to take it back because you weren’t? It was demoralizing and frustrating, not only for me but for my family and closest friends. Though she was never diagnosed, I believe my wife Melanie suffered from PTSD during the latter stages of the fight. She was powerless to help, and as much as I tried to ease her pain, she had difficulty handling it.
An increase of blood in my urine
Early in 2015, I noticed there was an increase of blood in my urine. At first it was periodic, but it got worse with each passing day. It got to the point that I was going to the emergency room almost on a weekly basis to stem the flow. It wasn’t just bleeding but there were large clots, some the size of ping pong balls emerging as well. Dr. Zlotta my oncologist was ready to go in to cauterize my bladder when the flow of blood suddenly stopped.
A pulmonary embolism
I was still working a full schedule and riding my bicycle a lot at the time. I had noticed that my left calf was bothering me when I rode; I thought it was a bruise or strain from overuse. I also noticed that I was getting short of breath from doing almost nothing. One Saturday morning, I went out for a ride and noticed my heart rate was over 125bpm before I even started. I thought I was stressed. I took two pedals and my rate surged to over 150! I immediately turned around and went home bathed in sweat. I told Melanie to take me to the hospital, I thought I was having a heart attack. After further examination, it turned out I had a blood clot in my left leg, and it had moved to both my lungs. They were filled with blood, I now had a pulmonary embolism. I was immediately given blood thinners and put on daily injections into the abdomen for 90 days. They told me to stay off the bike as well.
Time to consider bladder removal
At that point, Dr. Zlotta and I sat down and he simply said, “It may be time for you to think about having your bladder removed. We can stay the course as far as your treatment goes, but the longer we go, the bigger the chance it will spread. We’ve been lucky so far, but if it gets through the bladder wall, all bets are off.”
I was scheduled to go to Hawaii for our annual vacation and told him I would have a serious discussion with Melanie. At that point, I still wasn’t willing to surrender. The thought of surgery and a long recovery terrified me. I had no idea what I would do.
Did you know that May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month?