Two Diagnoses, One Couple, One Day: Could it be Possible?

Two Diagnoses, One Couple, One Day: Could it be Possible?

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By Sylvia L. Ramsey

About 16 years ago, my husband, now deceased, and I had doctors' appointments on the same day for test results, and both our appointments were with urologists. His doctor was a different urologist than mine.

My husband's appointment was early in the day, and mine was in the afternoon. I took him for his appointment, and we were told that he had prostate cancer. Surgery was not an option at that time because of his COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The treatment they offered was radiation, which was to begin immediately. We were shocked and wondered what else could happen.

I took my husband home and that afternoon went to my appointment. I had been referred to a urologist after being treated for a bladder infection for about a year. The urologist had run all the diagnostic tests required, and this was the day for the results. I was still in shock from hearing about my husband's diagnosis when I went for my appointment. I kept telling myself my tests results would be good; there is no way we both will be diagnosed with cancer. How wrong I was.

The urologist told me that I had bladder cancer, and that he would schedule appointments for a cystoscopy, a CT scan and an MRI scan to try to identify the stage of the cancer. My mind was whirling, and I barely heard him as he told me about invasive bladder cancer treatment and what actions should be taken based on the stage of the cancer.

I immediately went into the first stage of grief: denial. It could not be. It was not happening to me. I had to take care of my husband. Life could be so unfair. I walked out of the doctor's office in a daze. So far, I had not shed a tear. I had promised to call my husband as soon as I got out of the doctor's office because I was going back to work. I did not want to tell him. I knew I had to, so I reached for my cell phone and, when he answered, I almost lost it. I was grateful that I had enough strength—actually I think it was numbness—to make a cute remark about togetherness and that this was much too much of it. When I got off the phone, I sat in my car and bawled.

I called work and told them I would not be in that afternoon. I went to the park along the river instead. I found a quiet, secluded spot to try to recoup from all the harsh news that had been received that day. The longer I sat there, the angrier I got. I knew very well that life was not fair, but this was beyond unfairness.

Check back here later this week to read about Sylvia's first days after her diagnosis. Plus, read more about her story by clicking here.

Learn more about bladder cancer and about Sylvia L. Ramsey, cancer survivor, advocate, author and public speaker, at: www.bladdercancersupport.org, www.authorsden.com/sylvialramsey1

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(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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