Kelly and I greatly appreciate all the love, support, thoughts, and prayers being sent our way since my diagnosis of cancer. We receive a lot of messages from people checking in to see how I am doing. At times, things are rather hectic, and our friend Joelle Brouner suggested Caring Bridge as a simple way for us to post updates and for you to get a quick update or learn more about how my journey with cancer is going. Our daughter Andrea set things up for us and will help us with updates.
A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the bladder. This is my second run-in with bladder cancer. About three years ago I had surgery to remove a tumor as well as a portion of my bladder. After learning of this second diagnosis, my urologist explained that it was very fast-moving and deeply invasive and that squamous cell cancer cannot be treated with chemo or radiation. The biopsy of the tumor in my bladder was done in Olympia, and reviewed by a radiologist here.
I chose to go to the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) to receive the care and treatment needed.Fortunately, the doctors at UWMC felt they wanted their own radiology team to analyze a sample of the original specimen used for the biopsy. UWMC determined the original diagnosis was in error and that I actually had urethral carcinoma, a much more common type of bladder cancer that can be treated by chemotherapy. UWMC works together with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in their cancer care treatment to ensure they are bringing the best experts in the world into my treatment program. I have the utmost respect for everyone on my treatment team.
It was determined that I had Stage IV bladder cancer. Because the tumor was too large and cancer was also detected in the prostate and lymph, surgery was not likely to successfully remove all traces of the cancer. So instead, I am starting my treatment with chemotherapy, with a goal of shrinking the presence of the cancer enough to surgically remove it. Chemotherapy is scheduled in 3 week rounds, and I will complete 6 rounds. A cycle includes a treatment once a week for the first two weeks, with the third week off. It will take 18 weeks or so, and I will get a CT scan halfway through to assess how well the treatment is working.
Presuming the chemotherapy does its job, I will need a pretty major surgery. The surgery to remove the bladder, prostate, and lymph, and do some reconstruction to deal with the loss of these organs is estimated to last around 6 to 7 hours. It poses plenty of risk, but we have the best team of physicians around and they are completely committed to a full recovery.