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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.

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.


  • Pepe528
    1 week ago

    gees it seems like you have gone though a lot but your still hanging in there — i how you get much better now and you are with us a long long time

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    5 days ago

    Hi @pepe528, Thanks for reading Jim’s article and sharing those encouraging thoughts! How are you doing? -Sarah ( Team Member)

  • Pepe528
    5 days ago

    WELL HOW I’AM I DOING I GUESS HANGING IN THERE I GUESS –I GOT ANOTHER3 month break –but july 11th got to go get checked again -its been crazy –its hard to plan a vacation and want too get this all behind me –i guess it could be a lot lot worst –iam 70 now hope too make it too 80 or 85 hey i guess a lot of people are in a worst place than i am –but i must say this is very depressing

  • Andy
    8 months ago

    Hi Jim, I am in Guys Hospotal, Cancer Wing, London, where i has my bladder and prostate removed last Saturday! I’ve been having bladder problems for years and had a holmium laser prostatectomy in 2014 from which I never really recovered. My bladder was damaged and I had weeks of treatment trying to calm it down but all to no avail. I then had a cystoscope early this year, and there they were, great big tumours! They took them out very quickly and discovered that they were malignant. They then took muscle lining from the bladder which showed that the cancer was non invasive…..a relief. I was put on BCG treatment foe 6 weeks which wasn’t pleasant but could have been worse. Then a lovely 6 weeks off before the next operation which showed they had grown again and invited the muscle. I am 72 and not so worried about my physical image, although I am fit, playing golf, tennis and cycling every week and of a slim stature. I made an appointment with one of London’s leading Urological Surgeons who operates by Robotics, using the Da Vinci method. He said that I should not even wait to go on a family holiday on 20th October with my children and grandchildren and it appeared from a PET Scan that the cancer might have spread to some lymph nodes. So it all happened last Saturday! I’ve had very little cutting, lost very little blood, I’m sore but I can walk and they think I am doing really well. We are waiting for the results of the lymph nodes during the next week but I am optimistic. It seems to me that having the bladder out early, before it gets into the muscle is the best solution…..I wish I had done it! Good luck to you and keep me posted.

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