I was diagnosed with stage 3, muscle invasive bladder cancer in September of 2009. Of course I was immediately and repeatedly told that radical cystoprostatectomy was absolutely my only option. Upon extensive research and finding the incredibly poor results that this radical surgery offered, my wife and I left no stone unturned trying to find an alternative.
I agreed to take the 3 months of chemo that was recommended prior to the surgery only because I was hopeful that it might actually have a positive result and I figured it would give us 3 months to find an actual solution.
After the 3 months of complete misery and destruction from the chemo with no affect at all on the tumor, I was faced with the decision of having to accept the radical surgery or make an attempt with radiation.
Fortunately, my wife found a procedure being done in a study in Japan with amazing results. It was a combination of intra-arterial chemo and radiation. The intra-arterial chemo allows a much higher dose of the drug to be delivered directly to the tumor having a much more dramatic result than any systemic chemo could ever offer. It also makes the area more sensitive to radiation. Side effects are minimal. We were soon informed that the same treatment was being done in Canada as well. We decided to bring the Japanese study to our doctors at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fl. and ask why we couldn't do this treatment here. We were told that as much as they would like to, there was only one doctor that might be able.
By the grace of God, I was contacted by Dr. Bulent Arslan from Moffitt's Interventional Radiology department. He was not only willing to try the intra-arterial chemo, he was confident that he could do it. That was also the moment that he informed me that I would be the first person in the United States to receive intra-arterial chemo for bladder cancer. I said great, let's go pioneer something.
Starting in January, I took 7 weeks of radiation and 3 intra-arterial chemo treatments. One in January, one in February and the last one in March. Two days ago I had a cystoscopy that showed no visible tumor. Today we got the results of a biopsy that also showed no cancer. The treatments have produced to this point a complete response. I will be having cytoscopies every 3 months for at least the next two years and understand the need to remain vigilent. but beating this disease in a way that no one in this country even knew about before now is very encouraging. I pray that this treatment will become an available option for many people in the near future.
If anyone has any questions, please ask. I am more than willing to help and can provide the Japanese study to anyone that wants to see it. I believe this course of treatment has saved my life, saved my quality of life and gives me the best chance for a long term positive result.