One Day At A Time: Learning To Cope With A Bladder Cancer Diagnosis
There’s no way to explain the emotions someone experiences when they discover they have cancer. Feelings of fear, anger, sadness and more seem to rush in all at once—to say it’s overwhelming would be an understatement.
If you or a loved one has received a bladder cancer diagnosis, then you know learning to cope is one of the hardest parts. With all of the questions circling in your head, it can be difficult to straighten things out and make sense of it all.
Hearing that you or someone you love has bladder cancer is never easy. We want to help guide you through the coping process, so you and your loved ones can focus more on being together.
This Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, we hope to help some of the thousands of people affected by bladder cancer every year cope with their diagnosis. To do so, here are four steps to help fighters and their families cope throughout their bladder cancer journey:
Step 1: Understand What You’re Up Against
When you’re trying to cope, you first have to understand what it is you’re coping with. In this case, it’s important that you know what bladder cancer is and the risk factors associated with it. We suggest that you and your family take the time to talk with a urologist so you can start to understand what a bladder cancer diagnosis means.
What is bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer is more common in men than in women. In fact, men are four times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. Bladder cancer is caused by harmful chemicals that collect in your bladder over the years, which explains why older men are more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer.
There are three types of bladder cancer, each named after the cells the cancer attacks. There is Transitional Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma. While each is different, and some more common than others, they each have similar risk factors.
Here are some of the common risk factors associated with bladder cancer:
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Exposure to industrial chemicals
- Chronic bladder infections
- Insufficient hydration
- Birth defects of the bladder
- History of bladder cancer in your family
- Prolonged use of certain drugs or treatments
While knowing the risk factors is important, you should also familiarize yourself with the survival rates. While it varies from person to person, the survival rate for bladder cancer is rather optimistic. When caught early enough, the five-year survival rate is 77 percent.
However, this number highly depends on what stage the cancer is in, and more testing will help your urologist determine the severity of the cancer. This is why we always recommend getting a regular urinalysis. If bladder cancer is present, a urologist could catch it early through a simple urinalysis—making the diagnosis and treatments that much easier.
Step 2: Let It All Out
If you want to scream, if you want to cry, do it. The amount of stress and worry that the word “cancer” brings can be too much for anyone to bear. If you find yourself feeling trapped by your emotions, let them out!
Bottling up how you feel about a cancer diagnosis will only make things more difficult. Reach out to your family, your friends, a doctor or therapist and talk about your feelings. Remind yourself that you’re not in this alone—because you’re not! Don’t be afraid to confide in someone and rely on them for strength.
One of the most important, and difficult, parts of any cancer journey is allowing yourself to open up. While this journey is different for everyone, keep in mind that it’s normal to be upset, worried and stressed. Just do your best to not carry this burden alone—let those who want to help, help.
Step 3: Decide How You Want To Move Forward
Bladder cancer is treatable, and in many cases remissible. It’s important to understand what your options are so you can decide how to move forward. When someone is diagnosed with bladder cancer, these are the common treatment options:
- Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor. TURBT is an endoscopic surgical procedure that removes cancerous tissue from the bladder.
- Open Cystectomy. During this procedure, the cancerous bladder is removed and is replaced with a urinary reserve. A Robotic Cystectomy is also an option—learn more about this procedure.
- Bacillus Calmette-Guerin therapy. This procedure only happens in early bladder cancer stages. During the procedure, a urologist will insert a catheter that pumps a liquid immunotherapy drug into the bladder.
In the early stages, your urologist should be able to catch and treat the cancer quickly before it’s able to spread. While these are usually minimally-invasive procedures, the decision to treat your bladder cancer is ultimately up to you.
If the cancer has spread, continue to talk with your family and your doctor about your options. Treatments are almost always possible. Keep in mind that your doctors, family and friends all want what’s best for you, and will continue to support you!
Step 4: Don’t Give Up Hope
In the midst of a difficult cancer diagnosis, it’s easy to forget what you’re fighting for and assume the worst. However, don’t give up hope!
Get involved in the bladder cancer community—meet others that are fighting alongside you, talk with survivors, share your story! The more you are able to benefit from others and grow during your journey, the easier this journey will be.
Remaining hopeful is key to any cancer journey, and bladder cancer is no different. For friends and family, don’t neglect to support your loved one through their diagnosis, treatment and beyond. They will need you now more than ever, so do your best to listen and comfort them when they need you.
The Team at Urology Specialists of the Carolinas Cares
Here at Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we specialize in bladder cancer for men and women. Our team knows first-hand how difficult it is to deliver a cancer diagnosis—it truly never gets easier.
However, we know the value of understanding what a cancer diagnosis means and educating you on what your options are. We never want you to lose hope, or feel like you are unable to cope.
Instead, we want to inspire you to fight! We will be there every step of the way, and guide you and your loved ones through the ups and downs a cancer diagnosis brings. If you’re struggling to come to terms with a bladder cancer diagnosis, let us help you find the peace of mind that you deserve.
Like many cancers, you can reduce your risk of bladder cancer by living a healthy lifestyle. For more information on healthy habits to reduce cancer risks, download our Nutrition and Lifestyle Guide below.