It’s Bladder Cancer Awareness Month: Time To Share My Story

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersMay is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. It’s time to share my personal story. Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer (and 11th most common for women) – a cancer I never knew existed until I was told six months ago that “you have bladder cancer.” Not something I wanted to hear on the eve of my 60th birthday.

You Have Bladder Cancer
I asked my urologist Dr. F three times if he really said the “C” word. Mind you, I had never seen  a urologist before.

“Did you say cancer?” I asked Dr. F after my surgery to remove a tumor from my bladder. “Yes, it looks like cancer,” said Dr. F.

Bladder Cancer; Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

Orange ribbons are the symbol of bladder cancer. Photo courtesy of BCAN.org.

Why me? Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. I am not a smoker and during my full-time career I wasn’t in an environment where I was exposed to certain harmful substances — two of the risk factors. According to BladderCancer.net, people who are older are at a higher risk for developing bladder cancer—around 90% of people diagnosed with it are over the age of 55. I’m over 50, guess that’s me! “You live in New Jersey. It’s the chemical capital of the U.S,.” said my friend L. Ugh, that’s right!  

Bladder Cancer; Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

More men are diagnosed with bladder cancer than women. Stats from BCAN.org.

“You mean it’s cancer?” I asked Dr. F again. “Yes, we have to wait for the biopsy report to determine next steps.” Those were the longest two weeks ever, especially since one of the weeks I had a catheter attached to my bladder to facilitate healing. Ugh! I was scared. I was really scared. Not able to do yoga, I used all my mindfulness meditation tools and techniques to calm my thoughts. Continue reading