A woman hunches over in anxiety and pain.

Those First Few Months of My Small Cell Bladder Cancer

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Anita, and in 2016, I was diagnosed with small cell bladder cancer. I remember feeling utterly dumbstruck, scared, frightened, and anxious. So many emotions in such a short space of time. One minute feeling that it’s all going to be okay, the next becoming a mess of emotions. Feeling like my life now wasn’t my life anymore. Something had taken over it. Something bad and there was absolutely nothing that I could do to make it go away.

Every day was about bladder cancer

Those first few weeks were hell! No, more than hell. The most hellish Hell! Every minute of every day, it was about bladder cancer - literally EVERY MOMENT. More scans, more appointments, and nothing seemed to be happening. I had no idea how cancer "worked" or why it was taking so long to organise my chemotherapy.

Waiting to find out the tumor pathology

It was explained that we had to wait for the histology of the tumour to come back to find out what type it was. There were anxious weeks of waiting, and when it did come back that it was a neuroendocrine type, we then had to wait a few more weeks before we were told it was “small cell” as opposed to “long cell” (long cell has the better prognosis) and that it had already spread throughout the lymph nodes, liver, hip, and arm bones.

Being told to be brave and strong

I remember everyone telling me to “be brave,” "be strong,” and all of the buzzwords that people think we need to hear when we are diagnosed with cancer. FYI, we don’t need to hear this; we need your love and support! Those words, no matter how they are said, I find very condescending. What choice do we have? If we want to live, then we will do ANYTHING to stay alive.

I couldn't believe how this could happen to me

I also remember not believing it. I wouldn’t say I was in denial; my poor mind just couldn’t fathom how this cancer had given me 6 months, tops, to live? (Thank goodness, I am still here!) How do you go from one day being an ordinary person with normal problems to "OMG I HAVE TERMINAL CANCER?!"

Sinking into sleep and alcohol

Sleeping was a blessing and so was getting drunk. Getting drunk provided an outlet, it took my mind off the grim prognosis. It helped me sleep. Sleeping was a blessing, however drunken sleeping, not so much. I would wake in the early hours of the morning, lying in bed, trying to take in the enormity of what was happening to me. And not just to me but to my family and friends, too. (I don’t advocate drinking, and I now don’t drink at all.)

Will I die?

What was going to happen to me? How was I going to die? Would it be painful? I would shut my eyes tight and stop breathing to try and understand what death would do to me. All the visions that I had from my days working as a home carer when I was the caregiver to someone dying with cancer. I remembered how even a gentle touch would leave them in agony and how many of them became bed-bound once the cancer cells attacked their spines. I did not want this; I do not want this!

Tears imagining my family's future

My heart continued to sink. I couldn’t imagine a world that I was not part of. I couldn’t imagine how my family, my wonderful husband and my only son, were going to cope. This made me cry and still makes me cry on occasions. Each day brought a mixture of sorrow and happiness.
Sometimes, there are no answers.

Accepting that I had this evil disease

It made me question everything that I had done in my life, I needed answers; I needed to know, "Why?" I found out that sometimes bad things happen. And finding out why wouldn’t help me. It wasn’t like I could rewind my life and start over. I had to accept that I had this evil disease and that was that!

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