Well crap. The cancer is back. Again. A test done this morning shows several small recurrences, and another surgery—or two—are imminent. What bothers me more, I think, is the fact that the nasty cells seem to have spread. I was too taken aback to ask the doctor sensible questions and I suppose I should not interpret his worried look as anything more than decent bedside manners. Still, I feel as if I’ve been punched in the gut.
What this implies, regardless of the surgical outcome, is several more months of BCG treatment. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin is the action of choice for post-operative bladder cancer care. As chemotherapies go, it is one of the more benign. There’s no hair loss, though in me the process has led to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and fatigue. It is unpleasant, embarrassing and demeaning. Having a catheter used to shoot my bladder full of a bacterial compound, the workings of which is not understood, is unsettling. I’ve read that the process is believed to work by stimulating an immune response, or causing an irritation of the bladder wall that fights cancer cells, but the truth is, no one really knows. The success rate of the treatment is relatively high at 63 percent after 15 years, though some studies indicate the survival rate of only 50 percent after five years.
I am a prime candidate, a white male over 65 with a history of smoking, even though I quit more than 15 years ago.
I’m trying hard to go with the notion that stuff simply happens, rather than be vexed and say stuff happens to me. I am not being entirely successful. Crap.