First off I want to wish all of you (mostly anonymous) readers an optimistic and joyous new year for 2010. Whether you have cancer or you are supporting someone who does, your own positive attitude is a key element under your control that will help everything else work better and pave the way for staying ahead of bladder cancer, or any cancer. Do not accept that cancer is a death sentence, a done deal, but accept that working together with the doctors on the remedies they know PLUS doing some additional things can indeed keep the cancer at bay. And all of this is leveraged even more by positive attitudes. Read more about the importance of attitude here.
One thing I did after my last cystoscopy and all clear report a few weeks ago is update my treatment calendar. I initially published this calendar almost a year ago. And while it helped me to visualize what lies ahead, and many of you have looked at it, I am forced to admit that it is really difficult to interpret. Even Dr. Hopkins' eyes glazed over when I showed it to him. So I decided to re-work it and make it more clear. The thing that makes it difficult is that we have to line up three timelines: the cystoscopy schedule from Dr. Hopkins, the BCG maintenance schedule from Dr. Lamm, and the CT scan schedule from Dr. Hopkins. Complicating this fact is that the BCG and cystoscopy are driven from different start dates.
Here is Dr. Hopkins cystoscopy plan that he outlined to me verbally: Visual inspection via cystoscope every 3 months post TURBT for the first two years, every 6 months for the next two years, and then annually for life - as long as no cancer is detected. Along with each scoping we will do a urine cytology test. The start date for these is late May, 2008, when I completed my second TURBT. Additionally he requires a CT scan 12 months post TURBT then every 18 months. Dr. Hopkins is always quick to point out that there is plenty of leeway in these timings, as there is nothing requiring precision in this other than convenience for human beings to use calendars.
Here is Dr. Lamm's BCG maintenance schedule for me, to which Dr. Hopkins has agreed. After initial 6 BCG, maintenance series of (up to) three at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months, annually to 6 years, then at year 8, 10, and 12. Since the initial 6 BCGs were 2 months after the TURBT, this gives a slightly different start date.
Given all of this, I created a different timeline for cystoscopy, BCG, and CT Scans - forcing them a few weeks now and then to line up properly. And everything pretty much works until the year 2015. Uncharacteristically for me, I am not going to worry about that for a while...
So here is the treatment calendar as of today. Am I depressed that BCG continues until 2020? Not at all - I look forward to being alive and fine at that time, and a bottle of resveratrol-laden red wine to celebrate!