Invasive BC stage 2 grade 3
I had not had a bladder infection since I was a child. But on April fools day of 2004 I knew that was what it was from the start. So on the antibiotic I went and thought that would be that. Wrong….. five antibiotics later found me telling asking my Internist for a good Urologist. By this time I could see blood in my urine. The CT scan and sonogram showed something in the bladder. On Aug. 6th 2004 at 47 I was diagnosed with invasive bladder cancer stage 2 grade 3. My local Urologist wanted to do immediate surgery to remove the bladder, uterus, ovaries, and portion of the vagina. And was highly aggravated with me for seeking a second opinion as he felt that not doing what he said was in his words suicide. However, I felt that knowing all my options and finding a place they saw more than one or two of these a year was in my best interest. Living in the NE gave me the advantage of Boston being within hours of home was in my best interest. Not wanting to delay treatment my work was cut out for me. I found the John and Claire Bertucci Center for Genitoururinary Cancers at Mass. General Hospital. http://www.mgh.harvard.edu/cancer/cancer_genitourinary_team.htm I meant with Drs. Shipley, McDougal and Kaufman in early September of last year. The Bladder sparing protocol that they have developed is showing a bladder retention rate of over 80% at this time with comparable survival rates to removal. After careful evaluation, I was invited to take part in the study. Let me stress this study is not a new one and you must meet their criterion. The first thing that was said to me was that their first priority was to save my life not my bladder. Your tumor has to be singular, rightly placed and no signs of metastases. So again, this approach is not for all.
I went into it with the knowledge that this form of treatment is still controversial in the BC community and why. I also knew I would be closely monitored and that the need for bladder removal may be a possibility. Moreover, that because of the radiation that reconstruction was not going to be a possibility. In addition, that it was going to be a long road of check and recheck. After talking with people that have a health bladder and have had for over ten years without reassurance, and with people that in the end had bladder removal. I made my choice.
On May 23, I walked out of the infusion unit for the twentieth time with forty radiations under my belt, no pun intended. Last week a pelvic CT showed no signs of spreading. And on the 17th I go back for a poke and peek, my bone scans and the rest of the testing they do. However, so far so good my biopsies have been clean since the TUR in September.