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BCG Treatment

  • By Lisa Malarkey

    Starting BCG for stage 1 and want details…what happens when I’m home? How will I feel, physically? Dr. Said Id have UTI symptoms, but have others experienced more than that? I’ve read about the precautions (bleaching the toilet) but want to hear from someone whose gone through it.

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  • By Noel Forrest Moderator

    Hi Lisamimm, thank you for reaching out and seeking some advice. I was diagnosed with stage 1, high grade bladder cancer and went through surgery to remove tumour. I opted for the BCG treatment and like you knew very little about what to expect. The treatment itself is relatively simple and the procedure was very quick and pain free. I highly recommend that you try to have someone around after treatment, at least for the first 24 hours. I always felt very good after treatment, but the effects can creep up on you, so it’s very important to rest for 24 hours and drink plenty of water. In regards to UTI’s I never suffered from this, but the burning sensation whilst urinating is uncomfortable and your urgency will increase along with your frequency. This can last up to four days after, so don’t be to worried if it still burns whilst urinating. Some people go through their 6 cycles with very little side effect from the BCG, however after my fourth cycle I ended up with a terrible fever and very aching limbs, which lasted for 24 hours and I didn’t get back to normal for at least 3 days after. I was told it was part the BCG doing its work and was able to complete my 6 treatments. I hope this was of some help to you and please get back to us if you need any more advice – Noel, (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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    • By Lisa Malarkey

      Thank you, Noel. I appreciate you sharing. I have stage 1, high grade as well. 5cm tumor removed. It’s been 7 weeks, so its time for BCG. I can do this, but am nervous about those “possible” side affects that may or may not happen. Fear if the unknown, I guess. You helped me very much.

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  • By berky723

    I’ve just finished my 3rd TURBT after 2 rounds of 6 installations of BCG after the first 2 TURBT. I am still at T1 high grade with no bladder muscle invasion. I’ve been lucky with very few after effects from the BCG treatments. The most annoying is some burning along with urgency to go often. It does lessen with time and Uribel for the burning helps immensely. Everyone reacts differently to the process but if you have a good doc he will listen and help you along the path.

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    • By Lisa Malarkey

      Thank you for sharing. My best wishes for your future good health.

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      How have you been doing @lisamlmm? Have you started BCG treatments? How has your experience been so far? Thinking of you.

      -Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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    • By Lisa Malarkey

      Thank you and just checking in…
      January scope…wonderful- “NED”- No Evidence of Disease – my new favorite acronym😉.
      Then 3 maintenance BCG treatments with terrible side effects on #3, but April scope all clear (“NED”).

      Now doing monthly CHEMO treatments – changed due to national shortage, so chemo treatments first week of each month tilJanuary 2020 is my life. BUT still happy to report July scope all clear…loving that “NED” mark in my chart!

      Next scope with CT Scan for my 1 year anniversary (since my diagnosis and surgery) is in October, so fingers crossed (and toes, too!)

      Thank you for listening. I so appreciate bladdercancet.net !

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      Hi @lisamlmm,
      Thank you for this update 🙂 Good for you that you’ve been NED since January! How have you been doing with the chemo treatments?

      Fingers, toes, everything crossed for you in October.

      We appreciate that lovely feedback about this site. We’re thankful to have you as part of this informative and supportive community. We are always here to listen, too.

      Keep in touch!
      Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      Thank you @berky723 for updating us and for sharing your experience in this forum! Wishing you well.

      -Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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  • By Lisa Malarkey

    Doing well, thank you. Two down, 4 to go! No noticeable side affects yet. I’m being told I might feel burning and UTI symptoms at the third treatment. So I’m hoping for the best, but maybe I’ll get lucky and it will be mild. I appreciate you checking in!

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      That’s really great to hear you’re doing well with the treatments so far, Lisa! Keep us updated on how it’s going and stay in touch. I hope it goes well. -Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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  • By Lisa Malarkey

    Thank you! I so appreciate this site and your follow-up!

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  • By Lisa Malarkey

    I’ve finished my 6 weeks BCG treatment and am happy to have come thru fairly well. I have a scope on Jan 9 checking for recurrence. Until then, happy to be feeling well and enjoying the Christmas season. My only side effects are extreme tiredness. Hoping for the best as I continue on this journey.
    My best to everyone fighting this horrible disease!

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      Lisa, it’s nice to hear back from you. Congrats on finishing your 6 weeks of treatment!! Good to hear that things went fairly well and that you’ll get a break during the Christmas season. Extreme tiredness can be really challenging to push through…you are definitely not alone. I’m linking you to a conversation thread about fatigue if you’re interested in sharing or discussing further (https://bladdercancer.net/q-and-a/experienced-fatigue-result-treatment/). Thanks for those encouraging words. I very much appreciate hearing from you from beginning to end of your treatments. We are always here for you so please keep in touch, I will be thinking of you. Have a wonderful Christmas holiday! -Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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  • By dobonski

    I had/have a papillary urothelial carcinoma, high grade, noninvasive diagnosis.

    A month after a TURBT I started BCG treatments. I have completed 4 of 6. With my experience I have been lucky to have very few side effects. I have noticed a low grade fever each time but nothing atrocious.

    The only problem I have had is with the catheter insertion. I was told by the “professionals” that it would get easier with each treatment. Mind you, these are the same people that said cystosopy would use a SMALL camera. My definition of small and theirs would be polar opposite.

    At any rate when the catheter passes my prostate it opens my eyes wider each time. That has been my biggest problem. Based on other posts I have read, I must be extremely lucky.

    Good luck to all.

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    • By Noel Forrest Moderator

      Hi dobinski, I’ve been through a few installations of BCG and apart from my first session the side effects have been almost nonexistent. Like yourself my biggest issue was receiving each dose. I’ve never suffered from anxiety but I use to get myself all worked up before receiving each dose. I’m now 18 months down the road and although getting the catheter inserted still freaks me out a little, I’ve managed to find a way that limits the pain and feeling whilst having this procedure. I tend not to focus on anything in the treatment apart from my breathing, which is long deep and laboured and if I do feel anything from the catheter once it’s being inserted I give a cough, which opens up the passage allowing easier insertion. Using this method theres been times that I haven’t even realised it’s been inserted until I’m told by the nurse it’s all done. This works for me and hopefully it can work for you if you give it a try. It also works to some degree with the camera, but not has effective. Good luck with the remainder of your BCG treatment and please keep us posted on your journey – Noel,(BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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  • By dobonski

    I had my fifth BCG treatmment today. For the first time since the TURBT I had some blood clots.

    When discussing side effects and my fortunate lack of serious issues she mentioned that some patients bleed with every treatment so I am assuming my blood isn’t cause for panic.

    Noel, I tried the cough maneuver. It was a good idea but I still had to put my eyeballs back in when we were finished. Thanks though.

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  • By Pixie91

    Hi Lisa,
    I have had a total nephrectomy due to high grade urothelial carcinoma in the kidney and a TURBT for 3 low grade tumors this past year. I too am starting BCG in a week. I understand your fears and you are not alone! I havent fared so well with pain through this whole process so I am apprehensive about the BCG. Unfortunately, we don’t have much of a choice when it comes to treatments but reading these responses is a little reassuring that maybe it won’t be so bad😉.

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  • By DeaconBrad

    Just joined group today. 2 1/2 state 0 bladder cancer survivor. 4 surgeries, now doc wants to consider BCG Treatment. Effective? Side effects? Other options?
    I have 6 grandchildren I would like to see grow up.
    Thanks

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      Hi @deaconbrad – Welcome, we’re glad to have you in this group. Congrats on your survivorship! BCG is a commonly talked about treatment in this group so you’ve come to the right place with your questions. Effectiveness of BCG can vary from person to person, and side effects can include irritation, fatigue and cramps. Others may be able to share more personal experiences. In the meantime, here is a link to a bunch of articles about BCG: https://bladdercancer.net/?s=bcg. As for other options, we suggest you talk to your doctor about those, but you can learn more here: https://bladdercancer.net/treatment/. Your 6 grandchildren sound wonderful, you are so blessed and lucky to have them! -Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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  • By Pixie91

    So I had biopsy after my 6 treatments in early June. I got the all clear and was elated that at least for 3 months I could rest my body and mind of anything cancer related. My body did let me know I was doing too much too soon after biopsy. Had some minor bleeding days 3 and 8 but knew scabs were probably coming off. Come day 16 after biopsy, I rushed myself to closest ER only knowing my bladder felt like it had filled to the limit and I couldn’t urinate but when I wiped the dribbles it was bright red blood. I was in full blown hemorrhage with clots blocking urethra! They flushed several clots(worst pain of my life) but ultimately ambulanced me to hospital where biopsy was done. After several more clots had to be flushed they operated to find 4 areas (2 on each side) needed cauterized. Lost so much blood had to go through weeks of IV iron and b12 shots. Its been 6 long weeks and finally starting to feel better. I feel I can get back to work as hairstylist, at least part time but after all this I have a fear of getting back to life. You would think I would be running to normalcy instead of fearing it…

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      Hi @pixie91, that sounds like a terrifying experience. I’m glad you got yourself to the ER when you did! I can’t imagine how painful that must have been when they flushed the clots. Definitely take it easy and give yourself time to recover. Going back to work is a big step and I can see how that would be scary. It can be so strange going back to “normal” after a serious health scare. Is it possible for you to ease your way back into things? Perhaps just paying a short visit to the salon to start. Then working a short shift or fewer days until you feel ready to get back into it? I’ll be thinking of you these next few weeks. If you’re willing to share, I’d be glad to hear updates on how you are recovering and how things are going. Take care,Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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  • By Pixie91

    Thank you, Sarah. Went for My weekly hematology since that even and my red blood count is finally over 3👏👏and hemoglobin finally in normal range(its the small things that make me happy ☺). Yes, I am going to start back to work slow, just a few clients a week to get back into it. Its true, after such a major health issue, work or anything social for that matter, seems respectfully trivial. Of course income is not but in my business I have to be social and listening to someone boohoo over their child’s school day or a flat tire is hard to do after personally going through hell. I don’t mean to sound trite or full of self pity. I know in time, the daily normalcy will be easier but I have changed through all of this and not the way I thought I would. I don’t think many people talk about the emotional change that happens with cancer. I used to be the one going above and beyond for anyone and everyone but I truly don’t have that in me anymore and find even as I am feeling better, it’s much easier to say no to people. Is it my new normal or am I just not giving myself enough time?

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    • By sarah.wallin Keymaster

      @pixie91, So glad to hear your red blood count is finally over 3, and that health-wise you are continuing to show signs of recovery! Going back to work as a hairdresser is unique in that part of your job is listening to clients talk about their life and problems. “Respectfully trivial”, is probably the best way to describe the way those problems now seem. It is not unusual to feel like you’ve gone through a big emotional change. You did survive a traumatic, serious, health event after all. I agree that not enough people talk about the emotional changes that take place. I’m not sure if this will be your new normal or if things will change over time, as this can vary so much depending on experience. You might be able to relate to this article by Shirley where she talks about how she’s changed from cancer (https://bladdercancer.net/living/how-cancer-changed-me/). If you ever feel like you want to share more about your journey, you could write about it here: https://bladdercancer.net/stories/. I think many people here can relate to your feelings on this topic. Thanks for sharing about how you are. I’d be glad to keep in touch with how things go back at work.
      Take care, Sarah (BladderCancer.net Team Member)

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