Confronting Surgery and Staying Positive

By Sylvia L. Ramsey

The day finally arrived when all the imaging tests were completed and I was to get the final results. The news was not good: the cancer was in an advanced stage and invasive. The doctor told me that my bladder would have to be removed, and I would need a radical hysterectomy.

Thanks to my research online and the information from the National Cancer Institute, I had arrived for that appointment prepared. I had information on a procedure that involved creating an Indiana pouch from my right colon to avoid having to wear a colostomy bag on the outside. I presented the information to my doctor.

Luckily, my doctor loved for patients to be involved in their own care. He was very open and said that might be a possibility. He told me the decision could not be made until I was on the operating table because it would depend on whether the cancer had spread beyond the bladder walls. Somehow, I knew it had not. I insisted that we get the surgery over so I could get back to work.

The doctor thought that I was not taking my condition seriously—but I was, and a lot more seriously than he knew. I had a husband to take care of, and I was carrying all I could handle on my shoulders. There would not be any more placed on them at that time. I felt I still had many things left yet to do and a lot of giving of myself that had not been given yet. I would not be let off easy. I had to fulfill my purpose for being here.

I wanted to get started, get on course—whatever that course may be and wherever it would lead me. I am not always a patient person. I prefer action to discussion, and sometimes that is not wise. The doctor said he would not schedule surgery until he could assemble the surgery team that he wanted to assist him. That meant wait.

I waited for about four weeks—and it seemed like four months—before the surgery. In the meantime, I continued to search the Internet for information, interact with my newfound friends in Glenna's Garden and make arrangements for my post-operative care.

I constructed a new routine for daily living. I listened only to music that was uplifting and inspirational. I watched only television shows or movies that were funny, light or had wonderful endings. I would not watch anything violent or upsetting. I bought a small water garden with a waterfall to go by my bedside. My room became a safe, uplifting haven in which all senses were surrounded with positive input.

As I mentally prepared myself for dealing with cancer, I was also trying to support and help my husband cope with his own battle with cancer. He was in his last week of radiation treatments when I had my surgery.

Check back here to read about Sylvia's surgery. Plus, read more of her story on
Two Diagnoses, One Couple, One Day: Could it be Possible?
Lots of Questions and No One to Talk To

Living With Bladder Cancer

Learn more about bladder cancer and about Sylvia L. Ramsey, cancer survivor, advocate, author and public speaker, at:,  and

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