a man sitting in a large 'C' with his head in his hands

The Three Month Follow-Up: Part 2

Part 1 of this article described Noel's anxious experience going in for a follow-up cystoscopy and realizing that a miscommunication in the office led to the urologist leaving for the day! The mix-up was cleared up, and the urologist returned.

Seeing my bladder on the screen

Once in the treatment room, the feeling of being cared for returned, as the urologist along with the nurses present were very apologetic. Now, I'm not very good with cystoscopy, or so I thought, because as time goes by and the more you get plunged and prodded, you actually do get used to it. This is something I never thought I would ever be saying, but on this occasion, it didn't hurt when the scope was inserted and more importantly, I felt relatively comfortable and was able to focus on the screen. Viewing my bladder on the screen this time round was amazing, because the last time I had seen it I didn't know what the inside of a healthy bladder was supposed to look like. My very first cystoscopy showed a really messy bladder with a huge horrible growth floating around. On this occasion, the bladder looked very clean with healthy looking veins. Me, my wife, and the urologist were very impressed, talking about how good the bladder was looking, and I was so happy right up until the urologist said, "Wait a minute." My heart sunk while the urologist enlarged the camera and showed me a tumor had returned.

Feeling real doubt

So to put some context on this: I didn't go into my check-up naively thinking my bladder was definitely going to be free of a tumor, but I was feeling confident. So confident that I posted on social media, while in the car on the way, letting those who follow me know I was going for my cystoscopy. When I learned of the growth and during the first few hours after, I was convinced for the first time that my fate was now sealed. Real doubt had set in and my wall of defense felt quite weak. I also had my social media followers waiting on my post to give the news, which I couldn't give. So, for the very first time again I didn’t post an outcome on my social media page and ignored phone calls, while I sat with myself thinking of nothing. I felt empty like I had already lost.

Why I felt so defeated

My wife later came to the conclusion that the awful situation leading up to the cystoscopy is what left me in a really bad place, because on reflection, after having time to think, we tried to analyze why I felt so defeated. The answer did eventually come to me after some soul searching and yes, the situation with the receptionist was awful, and the results from the cystoscopy weren't great, but what was hurting more was the realization that my very strong belief system for advocacy was based on my own true cancer journey. I've spoken with many people with bladder cancer, and they worry about a lot of things, which I’ve empathized with, but I've always felt that things will work out for you if you honestly try to do the right things. But yet here I was trying to do the right things, and my cancer had returned. I felt like I’d let people down, and my failure would reflect on me being an advocate for bladder cancer. The truth is however, I now have another great lesson learned.

There are no guarantees

My easy step guide to beating bladder cancer is flawed! There are no guarantees with this disease. We all try our own unique ways to fight this, and some of us will be more successful than others and some of us will have to deal with some difficult facts. My cancer journey continues and this whole episode will make me a better advocate...of that I am sure.

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