How I Will Spread the Word this Bladder Cancer Awareness Month
The biggest goal of any advocate and for many patients too is to spread the word. This is never truer than with bladder cancer. Why is that?
Well, I may not appear like the an average bladder cancer patient.
Environmental and lifestyle factors
One reason for this is, as was explained to me during a conversation with my doctor, was that many people getting bladder cancer today, some 40 plus years ago worked in factory environments where chemicals were used. Chemicals that today are proven to be contributors or in many cases the causes of bladder cancer.
Additionally, my doctor explained to me that many of these workers and other non-factory workers smoked or were brought up in the homes of smokers. It was a time when many people smoked and many of the health implications were unknown. Today it is recognized that in many, not all, cases of bladder cancer smoking was a contributing or a key factor.
However, there is another whole group of people who are being diagnosed with bladder cancer. Those who don't fit the profile.
The shifting demographic of bladder cancer patients
I know from my work as a volunteer with Fight Bladder Cancer and briefings we have had, that younger people are getting bladder cancer. Also that more women are getting bladder cancer. I was a 40-year-old female at the time of diagnosis.
I am a member of a number of support groups where I have learnt of many women who have been misdiagnosed. The symptoms such as blood in the urine and frequent need to urinate are also symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) which are common in women of all ages, especially younger women. I was one of those women who were treated for frequent UTIs with antibiotics.
So, for all these reasons and many more, it is important for me all year but especially important during Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, to raise awareness in as many ways as possible.
My action plan
I will be posting regularly on my social media channels, using key messages to highlight the most common symptoms of bladder cancer, and encouraging patients however appropriate.
I will donate as I do often, to a bladder cancer charity to help them support patients. To information materials for patients and all the work they do with many different parties to improve the journey for a bladder cancer patient.
Through the charity, for which I am a volunteer ambassador, I am going to be speaking to a doctor's patient group. They have cleared the monthly meeting agenda for me to be center stage so I can speak and share awareness of bladder cancer during awareness month.
I will write about that and let you know how it goes after the event.
Reach out to your legislators
I have written to my local politicians to ask them to take some time to speak to me about bladder cancer during awareness month. Bladder cancer has never been debated in the Scottish Parliament and has not been debated in the UK Parliament for over 30 years.
I have also been invited to visit a UK ostomy manufacturer during awareness month to see their manufacturing facility and to help raise awareness about bladder cancer and ostomies too.
Spreading the word to raise bladder cancer awareness
I am about 4 years into my journey of bladder cancer awareness and advocacy and my involvement started off very small for Bladder Cancer Awareness month.
It really doesn't matter whether you comment on a BladderCancer.net post, share your story or talk to someone you feel comfortable talking to about bladder cancer, every time it is mentioned is raising awareness.
How will you raise bladder cancer awareness this month? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
How long did you wait before telling others about your diagnosis?