second anniversary of bladder cancer symptoms – Dec. 8, 2016

It was 2 years ago, Dec. 8, 2014, that I first started noticing the symptoms of Bladder Cancer. At the time I didn’t believe it more than a simple infection. Time proved me wrong. I can hardly believe it has been 2 years already. So many things have happened since then. At this time of year, I think of all the friends that were diagnosed during the last 2 years – none of which are still with us.

It has been an emotional few weeks to say the least, but as always, the focus is on the positive – the never ending desire to push forward and enjoy every day as best as can be. I honestly believed when this all started it was just a bump in the road. I would deal with it and move forward. As time passed, doubt crept into the equation to the point where I didn’t honestly believe I would still be here today. Now, 2 years later, I am still here trying to find stuff to write about.

I have gone shopping for clothing and shoes which I have not done for some time. Things that suggest a belief that long term commitment is a reality. I am enjoying life. I am enjoying my son and watching him grow. I am enjoying all the rapid changes in my step-grandson. I am enjoying watching my step-kids build their lives and thrilled to have the opportunity to see it all. I say step-kids out of definition, but in my heart the step part doesn’t count. I take pride in all of them. I am pleased to be able to still be here for my wife and do as much as I am able for her – knowing the reality of the thoughts she doesn’t share.

I have great friends I have had for many years that still stay in touch. I have made many new friends through work. The excitement and challenges are fuel for the determination to push forward – always forward. The past is what it is, the future is indeed a blank canvas. I do believe I know how this story will eventually end. I think denying it would be pointless, but I also know all too well that circumstance and fate have allowed me the luxury of determination.

Later this month I will go for my usual full regime of blood tests. Later this year or early next I will be in for the next CT Scan, with the follow up with the oncologist in March. The whole process has become mundane; boring-almost annoying. An attitude that is in itself a luxury to enjoy.

Living is about forward and only forward, yet anniversaries are about reflection. This blog is about LIVING with bladder cancer. So what is living with bladder cancer two years later like? What is life with the “C” looming over you like?” I guess a lot of that depends on who you are.

Happiness is going a full week without your urostomy pouch leaking, or waking in the morning and unplugging from the night bag without it spilling everywhere. It’s about being able to empty the bag at work before it gets so full you are stressed about it breaking. It is about unconsciously checking how full it is constantly to avoid that stress.

It has been many days of sleeping for 9-12 hours just because the thought of getting up was too exhausting. It is about doing things you shouldn’t just so you have the memory – the best memories and stories are always from the things you shouldn’t have done.

It is about finding clothes that cover the pouch while still remaining professional looking so as to avoid embarrassment or discomfort for others. It is about living so those around you don’t know or at least forget what your reality is.

It is about feeling every unusual twinge in your body and wondering if that is the beginning of the end, only to later realize it was gas. It is about mourning the passing of friends alone and in private – the thought of facing people that know you and the thought of having to deal with the questions just too much.

It’s about being there for anyone that is having a rough time – to simply be there, or offer comforting words and encouragement, and if I’m lucky, true friendship. We all have battles of many different kinds. Knowing I have an expiry date on my forehead, the thought is more about what I can do for others – without too much commitment of course. I am still a guy – I have to be careful with that commitment stuff.

Above all, and more importantly, is maintaining a sense of humour. It is about laughing. sharing laughter, inspiring laughter. It is about being able to rejoice in the fact that the sun is up again; Santa Claus is real; the Easter bunny poops chocolate; Oscar has a kind heart in spite of his can; man HAS been to the moon; Donald wears a shirt and Mickey wears pants for a reason; The thought that the galaxy is at war because of one family really is fiction – and of course, my books are the best ever written.

So here I am 2 years later. Nothing has changed – everything has changed.

About SM Dougan

Writer/novelist. I have been diagnosed with Stage 3 bladder cancer and small lymphatic lymphoma. I have had a radical cystoprostatectomy and adjuvant chemo therapy for the bladder cancer. This website has been created document my experiences as I go through the process in the hope of providing encouragement to others in a similar situation. For more information about me and my novels, visit my author website https://smdougan.com
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