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a colorful cell with bacteria attacking

You Want to Get Rid of the Cancer, Don’t You?

I thought I’d be ready to go back to work after my TURBT procedure. I was released from hospital on the Friday with instructions to return Monday to have the catheter removed. I had no problems on the weekend, and the catheter was gone by mid-morning Monday. Getting rid of the bag was great. It was supposed to take the pressure off the bladder, and it did, but I never felt clean while it was in me. I was ready to head back to school on Tuesday.

Something was wrong

Around 11PM Monday night, I had a real urge to pee. I went to the toilet and nothing happened. The urge got worse with each passing minute, but I still couldn’t go. At 11:30 I asked my wife Melanie to take me to emergency at Mt. Sinai, something was wrong. By the time we arrived I was doubled over in pain. They admitted me right away and discovered my urethra had gone in to spasm. I was told there was a remote possibility it could happen, and it sure did. A nurse inserted another catheter into my bladder to drain it. It was the best feeling in the world, total relief. She drained about 500cc’s. I was told if it had gone any longer, my bladder could have exploded and I would have been in serious trouble. Disaster avoided. They sent me home with another catheter and told me to come back Thursday to have it removed. Things settled down after that.

The next steps

The next three weeks were uneventful, a few cramps here and there, but I was able to return to work without any problem. The news was good when I went in for the follow up examination. Following the cystoscopy, Dr. Zlotta told me there was still some redness in the bladder but that could be irritation from the scraping. I was to undergo six weeks of BCG treatment starting the next week. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is an immunotherapy said to be the “gold standard” treatment for bladder cancer patients.

Diluting BCG

It is a live tuberculosis virus injected into the bladder. You hold it for two hours, or as long as possible, then void it. It’s supposed to kill any remaining cells in your body. Rhonda my nurse told me to sit the first time I went to the washroom to void the BCG, and to dilute it with a cup of bleach before flushing the toilet. The medical staff didn’t want the live virus in the water system. I asked if it was that dangerous while diluted in millions of gallons of water, how toxic was it in me? “You want to get rid of the cancer don’t you?”

Finishing up the cycle

I had the injections once a week for six weeks and was lucky with the side effects. I avoided the nausea, high temperatures, sore bones and fatigue that could accompany the treatments. I just got increasingly more tired after each one. After the cycle was finished I was called in for another update, feeling pretty good looking forward to even better news.

Find the next part of Jim’s journey here.

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.