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Urine Anxiety

Urine Anxiety

It sounds silly, but hear me out: Having bladder cancer has given me a renewed appreciation for my health and my mortality, sure. But it’s also given me a phobia of my own pee.

Blood in my urine was my only symptom

When I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in early 2017, my one and only symptom was gross hematuria – in layman’s terms, visible blood in my urine. When I ask other people with bladder cancer to describe their symptoms, I hear stories of toilet bowls streaked with blood, or of urine the color of cranberries, for months on end. But that wasn’t my experience. A couple times in 2016, my pee looked pink on the toilet paper – but it was such a pale shade of pink that I wasn’t sure if the light was playing tricks on me.

Now, I associate blood in urine with cancer

Before cancer, I had had blood in my urine once or twice before. (I’d normally say this is TMI, but you can’t really discuss bladder cancer without discussing pee, right?) Born with a defect called medullary sponge kidney, my right kidney is porous and prone to producing enormous kidney stones that sometimes get trapped in my urethra, causing gross hematuria and mind-boggling flank pain. So blood in my urine wasn’t a new thing before cancer, and it was associated with kidney stones. But now, needless to say, it’s associated with cancer. And now not a day goes by since my diagnosis that I’m not checking the color of my pee.

Anxiety after diagnosis

It might seem obsessive and strange – but hey, that’s anxiety for you. And getting cancer at 28 will definitely give you anxiety, particularly when you had none of the risk factors for getting it in the first place. Pee, and biannual cystoscopies, are my only clue whether my cancer has returned. So I’m a little obsessive about checking (and I’m sure I’m not alone).

Which is why I have this advice to give for anyone else afflicted with urine anxiety, like I am: Watch what you eat.

Seeing the signs again

This past summer, I discovered pink pee on my toilet paper once again. Panicked, I checked my symptoms: No fever, no flank pain, no nausea – which meant no kidney stones. Just as I was about to call my mom and tell her that my bladder cancer had returned, I remembered something I heard once, hidden in the recesses of my brain. Was it an urban legend? I wasn’t sure. But I remember hearing that beets could turn your urine pink (or even bright red if you ate enough of them). And I had definitely had a fair amount of them at dinner.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t have cancer

A cursory search of the Internet confirmed what I had heard about beets – and I also learned that blackberries and rhubarb can do the same.

So pink pee doesn’t necessarily mean cancer. But it does mean I still have a phobia of pee. And now, a mild anxiety toward beets.

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.


  • BillW
    12 months ago

    I love how Bladder cancer helps you focus on eating better and staying in better shape too !

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    12 months ago

    @billw – Thanks for your comment. Has bladder cancer helped you focus on your personal eating and exercise habits? I thought you may find interest in Sarah’s article where she talks about about how bladder cancer has made her more health conscious: -Sarah ( Team Member)

  • burtland
    6 months ago

    In reference to the article about pee anxiety, my only symptom was peeing dark blood, nothing rose coloured. This did create anxiety. Being on blood thinners helped with the hi level of blood. Even took a pic of the toilet bowl to show my GP.

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    6 months ago

    @burtland, peeing dark blood must have been very anxiety inducing for you. That’s a great idea to take a picture of the toilet bowl for showing your GP! That can be helpful for jogging your memory when you get to the appointment. Thank you for sharing that suggestion. Do you still find yourself checking the color of your pee every time you go (like Sarah said she does in the article)? -Sarah ( Team Member)

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