Jim_Clark's Journey with Bladder Cancer

Patient: Bladder Cancer

Patient Info: Currently in active treatment (initial surgery, receiving chemo rounds/radiation), Diagnosed: over 3 years ago, Male, Age: 50, Stage II

  1. 1
    over 3 years ago
    Jim_Clark's Avatar

    I was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

    Oh No

    The Day I Found Out By Jim Clark “Well,” the doctor said matter-of-factly, “you have cancer.” My first reaction was “Huh?” No, wait a second there, Doc. I have seen lots of movies and TV shows and this is not how you learn you have cancer. There was no piano playing in the background, there was no hunched shouldered, whispered words. The doctor’s voice wasn’t cracking. This was all wrong. Except, that it was right. I didn’t need to have all the theatrics. Heck, I didn’t want all the theatrics. I wanted the Joe Friday approach and I got it. My doctor did his inspection of my bladder and had found a 3-centimeter tumor. I had been having flank pain for a while and thought it was kidney related. I had passed a kidney stone years ago and what I was experiencing was similar. Not the same, but similar. It was when I began to have blood in my urine that I got concerned. Being a hard-headed, somewhat typical 47-year old male, I figured it had something to do with the recent increase in working out. In other words, I got around to doing it more than once or twice a week. I didn’t have a primary care doctor so I took a chance on it just being the change in working out. Well, that all changed the morning in the shower when I had a major urge to urinate and a blood clot the size of a quarter came out. Talk about a wake-up. Whoa. But I immediately felt better. The pain I had been experiencing in my flank and kidney area went away immediately. So, being hard-headed, I figured it was a one-time thing and went about my day. I went to work and had a rather uneventful day. That night, however, I had intense pain in my flank area (still thinking it was kidney related). I barely slept. The next morning, again in the shower, I passed four clots. Each the size of a quarter or bigger. OK, I am not a doctor, nor have I played one on TV, but even I knew something was really wrong. Right after the shower I called out of work and let my son sleep in a bit before getting him ready for school. Once I dropped him off, I headed to an Urgent Care clinic to talk to them about the kidney pain. My amateur diagnosis was a stone was rattling around inside my kidney or bladder and was tearing up my insides. The P.A. on duty that day thought my diagnosis made sense, considering I had had a kidney stone before. He ordered some x-rays. They came back showing nothing. I hadn’t passed a clot in a couple days, but there was still blood in my urine. The P.A. then sent me to get a C.T. Scan to see if the stone would show up. I was at work when the P.A. called to tell me that there was no stone but I needed to call a urologist immediately. The P.A. and I had had a couple cool conversations, he is a good guy, but I could tell from his tone and frankness that this was bigger than I had anticipated. By the time I got home from picking up my son after school, going to the grocery store and cooking dinner, I couldn’t get any urologist office to schedule an appointment. So, the next morning I called in sick to work, took my son to school and, when I got home, I began calling every urologist in Southwest Florida. Most could not see me until the following Thursday, eight days away. But one urologist, about 20 miles from my home, had an opening the following day. I took the appointment. Because my C.T. Scan and x-rays were housed at the clinic, I had to go by there to sign a release allowing the clinic to send them both to the urologist. I understand the legal ramifications of it all, but it seemed silly to me. The next day, I got out of work after lunch and headed across town to the urologist. It is a pretty good sized complex and filled with the nicest people. I was immediately impressed by the professionalism of the staff. Everything was proficient and orderly. The doctor eventually saw me and looked at my C. T. Scan with me. He showed me the area of concern was not the kidney but the bladder. Something was not right with the right side. After the doctor and I reenacted that scene from “Fletch,” he wanted to take a look inside my bladder. While I can be serious at times, I can find humor in most situations. When the nurse asked me to strip down to my shirt and socks, I joked that I usually want the woman to buy me a drink first. Mind you, it isn’t a prerequisite, but the gesture is appreciated. I am not the most successful lover in the world, and to be honest, I had been in a bit of a drought. It had been a few months since a woman had seen my stuff, let alone touched it. Mind you, she didn’t have any “Dear Penthouse Forum” notions, and I, as silly as I can be, did not either. Then she came back into the room with what looked like a hose with a camera at the end of it. She then hooked up some fluid bags to a gurney and turned to me with a look of “I hate to do this to you, but…” look on her face. It took a bit for the pieces to fall into place, but I finally figured out that that hose was going to be lubricated by the fluids and it was going to where I honestly thought nothing would ever go. Yep, that hose was going to go into my yoohoo. Surprisingly, it was not as uncomfortable as I expected it to be. After a minute or so, the doctor withdrew the hose and matter-of-factly said, “Well, you have cancer.” As it sank it, he told me he was going to schedule me for surgery and it wouldn’t be until then could he really tell how much damage had been done to my bladder. The rest of the visit was a bit of a blur. There were some tests the doctor wanted done, some paperwork to fill out and we had to find a time to schedule the surgery. By the time I got out there and into my car, my head was swimming. Then I had to make one of the most difficult phone calls I have ever made. I called my mom to tell her that I had bladder cancer and surgery was next week. I also tried to explain that the doctor won’t know how bad things are until after he had performed the surgery. She held up better than I expected. Then again, she is a mom and moms are the toughest creatures on the planet. I thought I was going to cry as I told her, but her strength made me strong. We made plans to get together the next day to discuss the situation. When I left the house that morning, I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but had the feeling it was potentially serious. By the time I left two hours later, I was wondering if I was going to see my son’s 10th birthday. I will say that the 20-mile drive home was a blur. Between the phone call to my mom and the thoughts rolling around in my head, I am surprised I didn’t run a red light or plow into someone stopped in the road ahead. It was an uneventful ride home as I wondered what was going to happen next.