Health Center - Reproductive and Pelvic Health

No matter your age, the health of your reproductive and urinary organs—your pelvic organs—is important. If something goes wrong "down there," it affects your overall health and quality of life. Get answers to all of your most pressing questions and put an end to embarrassing symptoms.

Living With Bladder Cancer

Sylvia RamseyBy Sylvia L. Ramsey

After a long, hard battle with bladder cancer, I consider myself blessed that I am able to live a normal life that is cancer free. Many people do not realize that in the United States bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer among men, and in women, it is as prevalent as cervical cancer but deadlier. In 2010, an estimated 70,530 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed in the United States, and 14,680 people died from the disease. Because there was little information available about bladder cancer when I was diagnosed, I have made it my mission to make a difference and change this.

Sixteen years ago, I experienced a life-changing bladder infection. The blood in my urine did not go away. The antibiotics did not solve the problem. Eventually I saw a urologist and underwent medical tests that showed I had bladder cancer. After several diagnostic tests, the urologist told me that my cancer was invasive and had engulfed the left side of my bladder.

The cancer's advanced stage meant my chances of surviving were slim. I had never heard of bladder cancer, and I was more frightened than I had ever been in my life. I frantically searched the Internet, but found little information. What I did find scared me even more. My urologist told me that a radical cystectomy was necessary because of the advanced stage of the cancer. Surgery was scheduled to remove my bladder; it also included a radical hysterectomy.

I started my research again and learned about the various surgical procedures. I took what I had found with me to my next doctor's appointment to discuss the possibility of getting an Indiana pouch instead of a urostomy. An Indiana pouch would create an internal reservoir using a portion of my colon and small intestine, instead of having a permanent opening and a bag strapped to my leg for urine collection.