Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bladder Cancer Web Cafe

The other day, I discovered the Bladder Cancer Web Cafe. It's an open forum where people discuss their bladder cancer -- their treatment options and experiences -- their doctors' attitudes, etc. But most of all it's a place for support, encouragement and hope.
The members really helped me prepare for my father's appointment with his urologist. It's always a good idea to be armed with as much knowledge as possible.

As it turned out, we didn't have the "battle" with the doctor as I had expected. We quietly mentioned that my Dad did not want to have the BCG treatments again. That, at 83, he didn't want to spend the next three years of his life feeling terrible all of the time. And at the end of the three-year treatment plan? What is there on the other side? Realistically, the next three years may be the rest of his life. He'd much rather feel good most of the time and still try to enjoy what life he has.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

It's Overwhelming

I am in the shower, with the hot water hitting me and feeling pretty good ... and I pick up the shampoo bottle and squeeze some out and suddenly I find myself crying. I rub the shampoo into my hair and I'm still crying.
Later, I'm doing the dishes and the tears start up again. I just can't stop. I'll be fine one minute and the next, say, I'm in the grocery store picking up a can of tomatoes and guess what? I'm crying again.
I've never before felt so close to life and death at the same time.
My Dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer (although his urologist didn't bother to tell him that) back in November of 2004. He didn't really find out that's what was wrong until he and my Mom moved here in 2005 and he saw a new urologist. Copying his records, I saw the words: Diagnosis: Superficial Bladder Cancer.
Since then, he's been having TURBs done about every six months to remove new growths. Now, the urologist wants to start something called maintenance BCG ... where the live turberculosis bacteria is put into the bladder to stimulate your own immune system ... which somehow seems to help retard the growth of new tumors.
The only problem is, the treatment ... 6 initial weekly visits, then three weeks more three months later, etc., continually for three years ... involves the person feeling tired, getting flu-like symptoms, etc. My Dad is 83 ... going to be 84 in November, please God.
What sort of a life would that be?
None of us knows how much time we have, but I feel my Dad's time very keenly.