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Renee S. on September 24, 2021
I was Diagnosed with:
Papillary urothelial carcinoma (Bladder Cancer)
Employed- out on state disability
Type and Description of Treatments:
TURBT- Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor followed with chemo-Gemcitabine instilled in bladder for one hour after surgery. A scope every 3 months, if recurrence of tumor then repeat surgery w/chemo. I’ve had 2 TURBTs and 3 scopes; now I am having chemo instilled in bladder 1 x per month for one year. Repeat scope now every 6 months.
How do you feel today?
I am ecstatic that there was not a recurrence. The cancer I have has a 50% recurrence rate. Today was my 3rd scope and it showed no cancer, but will continue maintenance chemo.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
My work schedule, as I went to modified work, working 4 hours per day vs 8 hours. I was getting extremely tired during the 6 weeks of chemo. I became overwhelmed with everything about 2 weeks ago and just broke down. I’ve been off work since.
What is going well for you right now?
Cancer free at the moment and being off work. Less stress of going to work and getting infected with Covid-19, or any other sickness, as my immunity is lower. I work in a medical clinic and covid patients are being seen daily.
What is not going well for you right now?
The concern of being off work, and my union is talking about going on strike. I’m due to return on 09/27, but I have a chemo session on 9/30. So I’m hoping my Dr. will continue to keep me off so some type of income is coming in.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
The scare of the cancer recurrence. After my first surgery there was a recurrence found 10 weeks later. The tumor was bigger in size. After that surgery and then starting the 6 sessions of chemo really made me tired and weak. My hair began to thin, but I have so much hair that it’s not noticeable. Then my concern for my children, my daughter has epilepsy and my son has Aspergers. It has been is 3 for the past 18 years. That actually has been the most challenging part for me -- my concern for my kids.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
With my family, I will talk to my mother or sister. They have supported me through my journey. My whole family has been very supportive.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
My long-term goals and life goals were abruptly changed. We were going to move closer to my brother and niece, packing boxes so I can buy a house; that was put on hold. Prior to finding out I had cancer I had just graduated with a BSN and was studying to take my boards after the first surgery. I passed; now I’m a RN, but my whole life has changed and Covid19 became a concern for me.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
Right now I’m an currently off work. I'm hoping for an extension as I have chemo next week.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
Prior to me being off, my employer and the union have been working with me and keeping me secluded with no patient contact. I also was working half-day.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
Knowing I have a job to perform and knowing my employer and the union are working with me. Meaning I should’ve been written up due to my absences, and they will fight for me with the upper administration.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
You do you!! You know your body and how you are feeling overall, health wise, and your mental health. Ask for half a shift if you are able to still work; if not, then take the time off. You need to heal, rest and continue fighting.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
Tiredness, weakness and hair thinning have been the side effects of my treatment.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
I know this is scary, your family loves you and will support you. Rest when you need to, sleep if you're tired. Stay hydrated. Eat what you can. Emotionally, let it hit you -- cry, scream, yell, do anything you need to do. Don’t hold it in for 6 months and then let yourself fall apart. That’s not heathy for you. Accept the diagnosis and come to terms with the new way of life. Never give up hope or your spirituality or religious beliefs. It will be hard, but you can do this; keep fighting this terrible disease. Never give up!!