The Big “C”

According to the Bladder Cancer Canada Facebook page, February 4th is World Cancer Day.

I don’t think that there are too many people in the world who have not been affected themselves, or have not had a loved one or a friend affected by cancer. In my own small world, my grandfather, grandmother, mother, a niece, and myself have all had personal experiences with one form or another of that dreaded disease.

Cancer – the big “C”. Nobody wants to hear that diagnosis! I remember how shocked I was when I was told that I had bladder cancer. I had never even heard of bladder cancer! I mean, as a woman I knew about breast, cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer – but whoever talks about bladder cancer??

After the initial shock had worn off a bit, the first thing that I wanted to know was “how/why” did I get bladder cancer? The doctor told me that the primary causes of bladder cancer are smoking and exposure to certain hazardous chemicals. I was/am not a smoker and I had not been exposed to the hazardous chemicals – HOWEVER – I lived for almost 27 years with someone who was a smoker! The negative affects of second-hand smoke had struck again it would seem.

By the grace of God, those of us in my family who have battled “the big C” survived the disease – Praise God!

I have now been cancer-free for the past 5 years. While I am hoping that my cancer has been cured once and for all, bladder cancer has an 80% rate of recurrence. According to my urologist/oncologist, I will never be considered truly free or healed of cancer, which means that I will have to have a yearly bladder scan for the rest of my life. Small price to pay to be on the safe side.

While the initial diagnosis that I had “the big C” was shocking, scary and stressful, I knew that I would not be alone during the battle because I also had “THE BIG C” –  who is Christ Jesus. Christ was with me during the tests. Christ was with me during the diagnosis. Christ, and his peace, were with me during the surgery. Christ was with me during the treatments. And Christ was with me when new tumours were found on two separate occasions.

I don’t know how anybody gets through life threatening issues like “the big C” of cancer without also having THE BIG C” of Christ Jesus in their life. Jesus Christ has been my strength, my comfort, my hope and my peace.

I pray that neither you nor your loved ones will ever have to deal with “the big C” of cancer. But I do pray that you and your loved ones will be filled with “THE BIG C” of Christ Jesus.

Php 4:7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

Blessings

 

Advertisements

Seeing Red

Red is my second most favourite colour. I love the cheerful energy that the colour red exudes. While I don’t think that I would enjoy an entire wall painted red, I do love to accent and accessorize my home with brights spots of red. I have a large painting on the wall behind my couch which has Fall leaves of deep red. I painted a mural of birch trees on another wall with a background of red Fall leaves. I have a large, fun red clock and a red hurricane lantern in my living room. And I have just finished painting all my tired looking kitchen cabinets with red chalk paint.

There is one place that I DO NOT want to see red – ever – and that is in my urine!

You are probably wondering why I am talking about urine in a Christian blog???!!!

Well, the month of May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in Canada and I am a bladder cancer survivor.

My journey began with a routine urine test during my annual check-up. The test showed microscopic blood in the urine. My Dr. was not particularly concerned about it until I told him that I had some cysts on one kidney. I was then sent for a CT scan of my kidneys. The urologist said that while I did have “a few” small cysts on my kidney, he didn’t feel that they were anything to be concerned about at that time.

Over the next few months I began noticing a pink tinge in my urine but wasn’t that worried about it because of the assurances given to me by the doctors. As time went on, the pink turned to red, and then finally I began passing blood clots in my urine. One night I woke up with pain in my bladder and when I went to the bathroom, I passed a large clump of tissue.

During this time, my marriage had ended, I had moved to another city and didn’t have a regular family Dr. and the Dr. at the walk-in clinic wouldn’t take me on – even though he told me that I needed someone “right away”!

I finally managed to find a Dr. who was willing to take me as a patient and he immediately set up an appointment with a urologist. I had another CT scan – again focused on my kidney. When I went to talk to the urologist about the CT results, I was prepared for him to tell me that my kidney was cystic. I was NOT prepared for him to tell me that my kidney was basically dead, useless and had to be removed. That was shock enough, but then he went on to show me that he had found “shadows” on my bladder – which could just be blood clots from the kidney – but he wanted to do a bladder scan just to make sure.

The bladder scan showed an interesting growth that looked like pink coral growing on the inside of the bladder wall. That was exactly what the clump of tissue looked like that I had passed in my urine earlier on. And then the REALLY BIG SHOCK came when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer!

As a woman, I knew about the risks of breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer and had regular check-ups for those. But I had never heard of bladder cancer and NEVER expected to be diagnosed with it!

I had surgery to remove my kidney as well as the tumour from my bladder. The tumour was classed as non-invasive but had a high level of recurrence. I had several weeks of immunotherapy treatment involving instilling a weakened strain of tubercullin bacteria into my bladder which left me feeling like I had a bladder infection for a day after each treatment.

I thank God that I didn’t require the complete removal of my bladder, nor did I need chemotherapy or radiation!

Then I went through a regimen of bladder scopes (a camera is inserted into your bladder) every 3 months for a year. On what would have been my year-end scope, another small tumour was found. It was immediately removed and the area cauterized (some ouchies!) and the series of scopes every 3 months started all over again. After another year of clear results, I went to having scopes every 6 months. Once again another small tumour was found (DRATS!), removed and cauterized. Another year of going every 6 months. When I had been clear for a year, the scopes went to just once a year.

I am VERY BLESSED to say that I have been cancer free for the past 3 years! PRAISE GOD!

The following information comes from the Bladder Cancer Canada website:

Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada, 4th most common among men and 12th most common among women. An estimated 8,300 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.

Because of an 80% recurrence rate, bladder cancer is the most expensive cancer to treat on a per-patient basis. Yet, at 20th out of the 24 most common cancers, research funding into this disease lags almost all other cancers.

Smoking is a common risk factor, as is age and occupational exposure to specific chemicals.

The most common symptom is blood in the urine (hematuria), occurring in more than 80% of bladder cancer cases. Other symptoms may include bladder spasms and increased frequency and urgency of urination.

Bladder Cancer Canada has a tagline which reads, “If you see RED see your doctor!”

So, if you are “seeing red” when you pee – GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR!! It may just be a bladder infection, but it may also be a symptom of bladder cancer – SO DON’T PUT IT OFF!!

(Note: you may have to get insistent with your Dr. if antibiotics are not clearing up the blood in your urine – ask for a CT scan or a bladder scope.)

An excellent source of information and support is the Bladder Cancer Canada website.

https://bladdercancercanada.org/en/

 

Please pass on this important message. I pray that you or your loved ones will never have to experience this or any other kind of cancer. In Jesus’ name.

Blessings

Odd (Wo)MAN Out

Have you ever felt like you were the odd man out? I have often felt like I was a square peg trying to jam myself into a round hole. In school, I was a good student, too smart for the liking of some students (“teacher’s pet”) but not smart enough to fit in with the really “brainy” kids. I enjoyed participating in sports but I wasn’t particularly adept at them so I didn’t fit in with the “jocks”. I loved art, photography and drama, but I wasn’t quite “edgy” enough.

As a young wife, I found that I wasn’t materialistic enough to want to participate in the “must have to keep up with the Jones'” shopping gabfests that seemed to prevail amongst the wives of my husband’s co-workers. And don’t even get me started on small town gossip gaggles!

One  situation in which I particularly felt (and continue to feel) like the song from Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others” was the times when I was sitting in hospital waiting rooms waiting to see the oncologist-urologist. I was only 45 years old when I was first diagnosed with bladder cancer. It was very disconcerting to go for scans and treatments only to find myself the only woman in a waiting room full of older middle-aged and elderly men! You see, the bulk of the oncologist-urologists case load seems to consist of treating men with prostate cancer.

The worst part was when the nurse would call me in to put on that very fashionable garment known as the hospital gown. You know, that cute little number that was designed by Dr. Seemore Butts? And then I would be led into another small waiting room, which I think was used as a meat locker in the off hours because it was freezing cold. So there I am, sans pantalons, (French for bare a**ed), shivering and covered with goosebumps and not a whole lot more, trying to make sure that my gown is covering my nether region because I don’t know how many other unfortunate slobs have sat bare butt on the same chair! Now, you might think that the situation couldn’t possibly get more uncomfortable or embarrassing BUT to add insult to injury, the nurse ever so efficiently directs one of those dear elderly men from the waiting room, who also happens to be wearing the latest in hospital gowns, to sit down in a chair beside me!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? Talk about avoiding eye contact – and any other type of contact for that matter!

(When you have finished laughing, you may continue reading)

So, it has been seven years since the diagnosis, and yesterday  I had an appointment for my annual bladder scope. That’s where the doctor takes a camera on the end of a cable the size of a garden hose and tries to insert it into your urethra which is the size of a small straw! (ok-slight exaggeration – but it sure feels like it!) so that he can view the tissues of your bladder. So I once more found myself sitting in a waiting room full of men and 1 or 2 concerned wives. I would like to say that I have gotten used to feeling like the only apple in a bunch of bananas, but I haven’t. However, I now have a wonderful hubby sitting beside me holding my hand and I now get my own private dressing, or rather, un-dressing room that is kept at a temperature unsuitably warm  for hanging frozen sides of beef, but warm enough to keep goose-bumps at bay.

And best of all – I received the “all clear” and “everything A-okay” for another year, making this my third year being cancer free. PRAISE GOD!

I just wanted to share my good news and hopefully give you something to laugh about.

Blessings