Your Imagination and Bladder Cancer
Maybe I’m different than most but when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer I didn’t focus too much on the “today.” As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was pretty chill about the diagnosis and simply put it out of my mind and just waited for the next appointment, the next procedure, the next thing my doctor would tell me. I really didn’t want to focus on the process of cancer.
What I wanted to focus on was my life AFTER cancer.
I always assumed from day one that there would be a time “after cancer." I don’t think I ever thought about cancer as a long-term thing. Maybe deep down I figured there were only two outcomes. Living AFTER cancer or dying FROM it. In either case, cancer was going to be something in my rearview mirror.
The effects of bladder cancer carry on
But, unfortunately, it's not. Like it or not the effects of bladder cancer, physically and mentally, carry on.
For me, and maybe for many of you, the biggest questions on my mind were about how I would live my life after the chemo and surgery. Right after the diagnosis most of the conversation was around the details of the chemo and surgery. I wasn’t that interested in that stuff. I figured someone else (preferably my doctor) had all that handled. The stuff I was focused on was all the stuff I had to do after I was “cured.” That was my real concern.
And the only thing I could rely on related to my future was what the doctors told me and what my imagination would create. And my imagination went into overdrive.
And yours might too.
Your imagination is the worst thing about cancer
The truth is that your imagination may be the worst thing about cancer - pre, during and post. The expectations around what is happening and what will happen are magnified 100 times. When you hear something during the diagnosis and explanation of your treatment your mind takes that information, adds spikes, poison darts, sandpaper, sirens, and grenades to it, creating something wholly different than what was really discussed. Something horrible and unimaginable.
Don’t believe me?
Here are some of the things I thought when I was told different things about my cancer…
What I Was Told
What I Imagined
|You might have to catheterize.||About every 23 minutes I will have to push a garden hose up your urethra without anesthetic.|
|You might leak.||I will randomly and spontaneously explode and urine will spray out 3-5 feet and hit everything and everyone around you.|
|Your urine might have mucus in it (I have a neobladder).||My urine will be the consistency of molasses.|
|You might experience incontinence.||I will have the bladder control of a 1 month old.|
|Most people will live a pretty much normal life.||I am not one of those people.|
|If you are incontinent, no one will know you’re wearing a pad or adult diapers.||Everyone will know I’m wearing a diaper. I might as well wear a dandelion “B” around my neck.|
Almost every single thing I heard I made into a huge problem.
The reality is I don’t have molasses flowing out of my urethra. Catheterizing was no big deal. When I did have to wear diapers and pads no one knew. In other words. What "they" said was true. What "I" imagined wasn’t.
Give yourself a break. If you’re going through the first phase of your bladder cancer journey you will have thoughts like I did. But know that 9 out of 10 times the reality will be much more manageable than you can imagine.