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Bye Bye Bladder

Added: Monday, September 14th 2020 at 12:10pm by epiphanettes

My bladder is dying. Four words, perhaps the strangest words I have ever written. 

After a ten-year battle with cancer, 22 operations, and untold chemo sessions; after being scoped, scraped, sliced, lasered, and washed in BCG, a solution of tubercular sheep cells designed to attack cancer cells, my bladder, unheralded and unsexy organ, is giving up the ghost. There’s too much scar tissue, my oncologist said, and the last biopsy once again revealed a thriving colony of high-grade cancer cells. No one, to my knowledge, is doing bladder transplants, which sort of surprises me. Each year in the United States, about 56,000 men and 18,000 womenget bladder cancer, and about 12,000 men and 5,000 women die from the it. I suppose the disease is not interesting enough to warrant doing transplant research.

At this point, I have three choices. I can do nothing, and the likelihood is that the cancer will spread and there will be a lot of pain. My body’s reaction to the BCG chemo makes that choice no longer viable. I can try a new suite of chemicals that has only an eighteen percent chance of success. I can have my bladder surgically removed.

The last option has its own set of complications. Excising one’s bladder is considered major surgery, with a week-long hospital stay, major discomfort for some time, and the constant threat of infection. My future will involve a permanent urostomy bag. This last part is what worries me most of all. It’s simply weird to consider walking around with a container of pee strapped to one’s body.

What concerns me more than the physical impact are the emotional and psychological ones. My father when his 60s, was operated for colon cancer and for awhile had to wear a colostomy bag. It was hell on him and the family, and it aged him prematurely. I can’t tell yet how I’ll react to the inevitability, but I fear it won’t be positively. I’ve read that once organs are removed, a likely domino effect will follow. The cancer might simply find another site to invade.

The fact is I am bone-tired of battling this noxious disease. A decade is a long time, and the tests every three months were exercises in fear and anxiety. Sometimes I came out clean and it appeared I was in remission—nine months, in 2019—but more often than not there was surgery and chemo, followed by more tests. Recuperation took increasingly long—weeks at first, months more recently. Part of me wants to throw in the towel; part of me wants to fight. It’s confusing and frankly debilitating.

When first diagnosed and confident I’d beat this, I told friends I was going to start a band and call it Bad Bladder. I never got around to doing that. In retrospect, it’s a shame.


User Comments

Thanks for being willing to share about your journey and where you are now.  I can only wish you the best and hope that whatever decision you reach that you are comfortable with that choice.

Whatever you decide, you are in my prayers.

Hard decissions to make which is not a easy thing to do after a long battle.

Do what you think is best for you and that will make things a bit easy for you down the road.

only the very best wishes for you at this time....

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