In my younger days, I was always an active man. I worked in many different fields, including running a gas station, being a courier driver and even owning a candy shop called Kandy Korn. I played golf five days a week until I turned 80. But last year, after I lost my wife, keeping up with my old lifestyle didn’t seem as important. Even my cancer diagnosis in July of 2017 didn’t change anything. My urologist diagnosed me with bladder cancer after I found blood in my urine. He said treatment was usually chemotherapy or surgery, but due to my age, I wasn’t a good candidate for either, and I didn’t want to undergo treatment.
My family, especially my son and grandson, were my support network; my grandson encouraged me to speak with a radiation oncologist to explore other treatment options. The radiation oncologist felt that radiation was a good option for me, so I received a five-week treatment course. The treatment itself wasn’t painful or invasive, and I felt comfortable lying flat in the linear accelerator. I had some side effects, but overall it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and the radiation itself was pain-free.
My side effects were common for bladder cancer treatment: frequent urination, diarrhea, which I treated with Imodium, and a slight burning sensation from time to time. The side effects did affect me enough that I paused my treatment for a week in the middle, but was able to resume after my body had a chance to heal. I received a lot of information about what to expect about treatment from my loved ones and my treatment team. I had a great experience which was filled with caring people. At the end of my course of radiation, I wrote a letter thanking them. Currently, my treatment team is optimistic. My radiation oncologist says that the radiation is not going to cure my cancer, but for now the cancer is gone and the urologist can’t see it with the scope.
If I could give advice to someone who was recently diagnosed, I would advise them to seek out whatever information they can. Though I initially thought I wouldn’t seek treatment, the information presented by my family and the radiation oncologist convinced me that radiation was a good fit. Don’t hesitate to search for more information beyond what you’ve been told by the first doctor you see. Learn everything you can, and just go for it.