Bladder Cancer Awareness—A Tribute to Tracy

“I have stage 4 bladder cancer,” my sister Tracy said. “It’s also in my lungs and liver.”

No! I felt like I was kicked in the chest. Her life-threatening pronouncement sucked the oxygen out of my lungs. How could this happen to my go-to-the-gym-every-day sister? She was only fifty-two!

“Do you remember the bleeding I had over a year ago?” Tracy said.

I remembered. She had seen the gynecologist for what she thought was post-menopausal uterine bleeding. The doctor told her everything was fine. Or so we thought. She had been to the doctor several times for bleeding since that initial visit and treated for urinary tract infections.

Shortness of breath prompted the latest round of doctors’ visits. A chest x-ray, CT scan and bladder biopsy culminated in a diagnosis of stage 4 bladder cancer. Even the medical staff was perplexed. They repeatedly said to Tracy, “Bladder cancer usually affects older men, especially smokers.”

Unfortunately, bladder cancer statistics did not apply to Tracy.

Bladder cancer affects approximately 68,000 people per year, usually older men. It is very treatable when diagnosed in the early stages.

Bladder Cancer Symptoms

  1. Blood in the urine
  2. Painful urination
  3. Pelvic pain
  4. Urinary frequency

Risk Factors

  1. Age
  2. Smoking
  3. Male
  4. Caucasian
  5. Exposure to environmental chemicals
  6. Chronic bladder infections or inflammation

May is National Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. If you experience the symptoms of bladder cancer, please contact your physician.

For my sister, the diagnosis of a rare type of bladder cancer came too late. She did not survive. But she would have wanted to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms of bladder cancer, so others may seek early treatment and survive.