An Unexpected, Unwelcome Surprise

Last updated: June 2022

In December 2021 I was diagnosed with possible bladder cancer after 2 episodes of blood in my urine, several months apart. I pretty much ignored the first episode, since it had happened before and was determined to be due to an infection. The second time I took the doctor's advice to see a Urologist.

From a urine sample to a diagnosis

A urine sample proved "suspicious for" bladder cancer. The cystoscopy was, naturally uncomfortable, but not as painful as I had expected. I was able to watch a screen to see my tumors at the same time the urologist did. My first and lasting impression was that it/they looked like pink bubble gum spread on the bladder wall, some looking like smooth carpeting, the rest looking like - really! - chewed bubble gum! I was fascinated but not frightened.

Let's skip to the surgery

Part of the tumor was found to be partway into one of the kidney tubes so, in addition to the catheter, I needed to have a stent inserted into that tube to prevent it from closing up after the surgery. I experienced excruciating pain after the surgery that was mostly attributed to the stent. The bladder spasms were very frequent (every few minutes at first) from the time I came out of the anesthesia, and the pain was quite severe for the entire week I had to wait until the stent and the catheter were removed.

More discomfort and more twists and turns

I didn't need to be told not to walk too much - all movement was painful, gradually dissolving into very uncomfortable - and the bladder spasms did not really let up until a couple of days after the catheter and stent were removed. The removed material sent to the lab revealed "microscopic" residual cancer, requiring a second surgery - but NOT a second stent. The time of post-surgery/pre-catheter removal was very uncomfortable, but nowhere near the pain I had experienced after the first surgery.

I then underwent 6 weekly BCG treatments as a hopeful preventative against the cancer returning. I am holding my breath - of course not literally - for the cystoscopy scheduled to take place about 3 weeks from now to look directly at my bladder walls to confirm no return of the cancer. Having gone through all of this now, I feel more confident in my ability to go through it all again if the cancer returns but, of course, I'm praying it won't be necessary. I'm grateful for my faith in God, the many prayers of family and friends, and a very strong and supportive wife who helped me cope.

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