Grade 3 cancer of bladder.
I’m Tony Balita and will be turning 65 in December, living in Bumpass, VA and being treated at the UVA (University of Virginia Medical Center) in Charlottesville.
The urologists first informed me that I had Grade 3 (invaded the muscular wall of the bladder) on October 8, 20002.
Since then I’ve spend many hours online and at Bladder Cancer Web Café and slowly picking up all the new terminology associated with this beast.
As best that I can recall, it was about 1.5 years ago, maybe a few months longer that my first symptoms were manifest. First I developed a nominal sense of urgency in having to urinate. The problem grew more frequent and soon I noticed that on some occasions I could not make it to the nearest bathroom without some, again nominal, wetting of my trousers. Having become frustrated with the problem I went to our family GP. Decided it was time for a complete physical anyway.
I was in excellent physical shape, no problems save the urinary one. The doctor concluded that I had developed a “nervous bladder”, no big deal but if it got worse come back. Some months later I was back. This was becoming embarrassing on occasion. He prescribed a medication. It worked. Some months later I first noticed a red tint in my urine but not really enough to cause a reaction on my part. Several days later, I noticed a few drops of blood at the end of voiding my bladder. That got my attention.
Back to the doctor. Blood tests, stool tests and urine tests, nothing except come back if the problem persists. About two weeks or so elapse and all are okay. Then another episode, more blood this time and I could have sworn at the time, blood in my stool. In retrospect I’m satisfied now that it actually came from the urine. No matter.
Back to the doctor. This time I have his attention. Keep in mind I have had no other symptoms whatever during this time. Off to UVA and the urologists. I’m injected with 200 cc of an iodine solution and a series of x-rays are taken. Tumor about the size of quarter on the upper right side of the bladder. So several days later a transurethera resection performed. Upon entering the bladder the doc found a total of three tumors.
There I am, watching the entire procedure on the computer monitor. I had a spinal block. Three tumors but only one showed on the x-ray series. I suggested they take the x-ray and trash it. Why not just jump to the cystoscopy? Think about that. The big one once he got shaving it down to small particles just looked plain bad. The center of it has crystallized.
The uro wanted to me to have the bladder removed post-haste. Naw! There must be more options than that. So I met with a radio-oncologist. After an exam he suggested a combination of x-ray and chemo to be taken orally. The treatment will take 5 days per week for 7 weeks. I get a break for 6 months then go back for another cystoscopy.
All of this has come down on me in less than 2 weeks when the bad news broke. Like all of you I got online and started looking for answers on which to base decisions I would be making. Of course I know you folks can imagine and appreciate when I stumbled across this web site. Thank God and each and every one you. From this site I started to develop a sense of hope.
There have been 5 times in my life when I laughed in the face of the grim reaper. Those were pretty much spontaneous events and I walked/crawled away shaking for some time but I went on taking life for granted. Several days after being whacked in the head with this news I began to see life and all around me with a very different view. I’m much like a blind man who is able to see for the first time. My perception of the universe helps as well. I firmly believe I’m just spirit spending a short visit here in this body.
Tomorrow morning I go in for a CT, a scan from the chest down to the lower abdominal area. They told me this is to detect if the cancer has metastasized. If it has not I go on with the x-ray/chemo routine. If they detect it in any other area them I’m a candidate for full body chemo. Barring that, they say I have better than a 60% chance with this x-ray/chemo treatment. The risk/reward ratio there is better than just having the bladder removed.
Thankfully my lovely wife of 44 years has been a darn good trooper and very supportive along with the rest of my family and friends. I rarely ever saw a doctor until age 64 then all of sudden I’m a walking junkyard. What will be will be. The Big Man issued me the ticket now I must take the ride. In the long I’m going to vacate this cumbersome body and get on with better things. But…. Not just yet.
I’ll post again over the weekend and hope the CT comes out not changing anything from what is now known.
Have no posted this yet and in the interim took the CT test. I won’t have the official results until Wednesday, Oct 23rd. However, the minute I jumped of the CT table and got my trousers back up where they belong, ask the nurse if I could take a peek at what it looked like on the computer monitor. She began running through the 94 slices, as they call them while explaining what I was looking at and pointing out my various organs along the way. Then the resident oncologist walked in. Talked him into going through the results. He was hesitant, explaining he was not a radiologist. No problem with that I explained to him, but do you see any new abnormalities here? He said he did not.
So it looks like I’ll be a go for the radiation/chemo therapy, 5 days a week for 7 weeks. Meanwhile I’ve done some research on this BCG therapy that so many of you make reference to. From what I read it appears to have fewer side effects than what is being proposed for me.
Would appreciate any of you helping me with this question. When the urologists broke the news to me he was rather adamant that I should quickly move forward to arrange having the bladder removed. When I asked him what other options where open, he said really no viable options but he did mention radiation. Said he understood how I felt about wanting to keep the bladder. He finely said he would setup an appointment for me with radio-oncologist. Now I have to wonder why he would have gone forward with bladder removal if I had not objected.
So far think I’m dealing with this rather well. I do think dealing with this would be a real problem except for a believe I adhere to. Firmly believe I’m a spirit just spending a short visit in this wreck of a body before I move onto to better things.
Had read the story of that fellow from Texas who was obviously having a terrible time. Understand he deleted himself from the list. I had mailed him but never heard back. My prayers are with him and I fear for him since he chose to walk this walk alone.