A buffet with a bladder and cross sign on it.

Making Bladder Cancer Treatment Decisions

Cancer treatment is a buffet of choices. Each one comes with a bounty of pros and cons. When I was diagnosed, my urologist talked to me about grade and staging and possibilities. When I went in for the biopsy, I was overwhelmed with information.

Removing my bladder tumor

I remember Dr. Unni coming in to talk with us after my biopsy. He told us that the tumor was small and that he had removed it. I asked about chemo and radiation. His response was matter of fact: "Why? You do not have cancer anymore, so there is nothing to treat.”

My family wanted me to get a second opinion

He told me to schedule a cystoscopy for three months later and shook my hand. That was it. I could have asked for a second opinion. My uncle nearly begged me to get another opinion. He suggested that my urologist’s approach was cavalier and foolish. Other family members echoed the sentiment that I should pursue the matter.

I made a choice to trust my doctor

I chose to put my trust in my doctor and in his declaration that I was cancer-free. At some point, we will all have to make choices about what treatment plans we will follow. Will we seek out trials or experimental protocols? Will we steer clear of traditional methods? Perhaps we will follow holistic options.

A non-traditional plan

A friend decided to treat her breast cancer with diet and herbal tonics. She did not visit a doctor after her diagnosis. She found a holistic healer and followed the plan given her. No sugars, no red meats. Herbal tonics and some other treatments were all she used. She got stronger and lived healthy and whole for several years before passing at home surrounded by family and friends. The last time I saw her, she assured me that she had made the right choice for her.

Side effects from treatment

Another friend followed a traditional treatment plan. He was horribly sick and miserable throughout his battle. He would take the treatment and be bedridden for a time. Then he would feel fair for a bit and then back to treatments and the cycle repeated. He would tell me, on several occasions, “If I had known what I was getting into I would have never taken the treatments.”

Some have regrets, others are happy with their choices

I have heard regret and elation over the choices people have made in treating cancer. Some regret what they see as mistakes. Some second guess and think, “What if I had …?” Others are happy with their choices and the outcomes. The constant is that every choice has multiple possibilities and pitfalls. Reading and educating ourselves about our options will help us make the most informed decisions we can make. Being advocates for ourselves will help us avoid being victims of this disease. Being actively involved has helped me maintain a positive outlook on the choices I have made and continue to make.

In all of the decisions, I have learned one absolute truth. Looking backward is a sure way to stumble moving forward. Make your best decisions and then make the best of the future that comes from those decisions.

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