How YOU Can Help Someone With Cancer - January 23, 2010

One thing that is very difficult in cancer situations is dealing with the people around you who DON'T have cancer. These folks want first and foremost to know that you are OK, and that you are not about to die. Beyond that, few will want details. Almost all will say, "If there's anything I can do, please let me know!" But nearly everyone will be frustrated, because there is really nothing they can do to help out someone who has cancer - ALMOST! For bladder cancer the help needed is not generally a lot - a ride to and from the hospital for TURBTs, maybe some meals at home during recovery. Rides to and from BCG are nice to have, but not fully necessary, and meals during BCG days are not a big priority. And for flexible cystoscopy, even the ride is not really necessary. For other kinds of cancer, especially those involving chemotherapy or radiation, much more help can be provided. Certainly rides to and from treatments and meals for days afterward. And now I have some information on a new group that is doing something really helpful.

Cleaning For A Reason is a non-profit organization that provides one professional house cleaning service per month for up to four months for women undergoing cancer treatments - primarily chemotherapy, but others are considered. The charity is very careful to check that their services are provided to those with legitimate needs. Even so, the demand for their services is so great that they limit the applications to 200 per week - 50 per day on Monday through Thursday. Cancer patients virtually line up to apply during the open windows, and they process about 8 applications per minute until the limit is reached. These statistics can be somewhat discouraging, but they show how deep the need is.

Since few of us bladder cancer patients would need this service, and even fewer of us are women who would qualify, why do I mention it here? Simply because ALL of us can participate in helping cancer patients by supporting this charity! If people ask you what they can do to help, a donation here provides direct help in the most practical way - professional house cleaning. So I encourage you to check out the Cleaning for a Reason Website HERE, and see if you can encourage yourself or your friends by providing them this opportunity to give some real help to some that are suffering through cancer treatments. If you have a cleaning service or know somebody who does, more affiliates are needed all over the US and Canada. Please take a few minutes and check out this wonderful opportunity!

New Year, New Calendar of Treatments - January 1, 2010

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!