By Rob Truscott
Like many bladder cancer patients, Julie has a unique story. She met virtually with Tawny Barratt, Bladder Cancer Canada’s (BCC) Director of Communications to tell her story. This story highlights many concerns of patients, and the BCC team, but most of all – it shows how we must all be vigilant.
Julie is a patient that is well outside the normal demographics, and it showed through in the initial parts of her bladder cancer journey. Initially diagnosed at 22 years old in December of 1994, she approaches 28 years of dealing with the impacts of bladder cancer.
Outside of that surprise, was that her father was diagnosed with bladder cancer mere months before, at the age of 56. That lead to increased knowledge of bladder cancer when the discussions with doctors began. Her symptoms were limited to blood in her urine, which was the opposite of her dad’s symptoms, which included pain and frequent urination.
Since she didn’t fit the typical bladder cancer profile (young female vs older male), her doctors were hesitant to consider bladder cancer and believed it was a recurring Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) that they treated with antibiotics for a few months. Her urologist was not willing to consider bladder cancer, thinking it might be part of her menstrual cycle but was finally convinced that a cystoscopy should be performed. That’s when life changed, when the surprised urologist discovered a tumour the size of a golf ball.
Julie was diagnosed with a T1, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, before it had a chance to move into the bladder wall. Early in 1995, the first surgery was performed.
Bladder cancer is known for its recurrences, and Julie has stopped counting the number of times (at 30) a cystoscopy has shown her a collection of tumours in her bladder that shouldn’t be there, which are subsequently removed.
Part of the discussion with Julie is about the many life changes that she has undergone. Realizing that she has been dealing with bladder cancer more than half her life, through having kids, raising kids, and a demanding job. This includes tumours being burned out without anesthetic while she was pregnant.
She talks about many lifestyle changes that included many adjustments in products she uses in everyday life, her eating habits, and how these changes have not seemed to have a connected impact to the time span between tumour regrowth. Julie has maintained employment through these years, and talks about her time off from work.
Listen to the accompanying podcast to hear Julie talk about her experiences and reminds listeners of the following:
1. If you see red, see your doctor
2. If you are not happy with what they say, and if you feel you are being dismissed – advocate for proper testing.
3. There is no specific reason to why you might be diagnosed with bladder cancer, and
4. You can lead a fulfilling life, even if you have this disease.
Julies last surgery was in June of 2021, with her last cystoscopy in November 2021, and again in April 2021, with no tumour recurrences noted. We wish her all the best in the future.
There are currently 80,000 Canadians living with a bladder cancer diagnosis and 12,000 more will be diagnosed this year. At Bladder Cancer Canada, we are doing everything we can to increase awareness of this devastating disease to as many Canadians as possible – including this podcast that we created for Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.
Bladder Cancer Canada’s mission is simple: To support patients, increase awareness, and fund research. Please join us in making our vision a reality – a world where bladder cancer is just a memory. If you enjoyed today’s blog/podcast, help us make a difference – please consider making a donation today.
We commit to using all funds in a responsible and transparent way, ensuring that your donation helps people in their fight against bladder cancer.