My father was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012, just days after his 58th birthday. He lost his mother to the disease years before I was born. Right after his diagnosis, I remember telling myself, “There have been so many strides in cancer treatments over the past thirty years. Surely he will get through this.” He was an otherwise healthy middle-aged man. He was the one who would move my furniture between apartments, open that impossible jar, and be outside doing yard work on a Saturday morning.
Over the next two years, my father fought with strength and courage through BCG treatments, chemo, and radiation. He bravely and optimistically endured a cystectomy to remove his bladder and create a “neo-bladder” using portions of his intestines. The surgery destroyed his kidney function, and he had to adjust to being connected to tubes 24/7. After all of this, he found out that the cancer had already metastasized throughout his body. Despite his condition, he was adamant that he attend my sister’s college graduation, where he sat behind me in a wheelchair. That was the last time I saw him.
He had so much life left in him, so many adventures ahead, so many family experiences he didn’t want to miss. I am incredibly thankful for the work BCAN is doing to educate the public and spread the word about this under-acknowledged disease. With an earlier diagnosis, my father’s story could have gone much differently.
BCAN is truly a much needed light and resource, offering support and information to those who need it most, and spreading important awareness about the earliest symptoms. My family has enjoyed getting to know the BCAN community during walks since 2013, and were thankful to attend the 10 year anniversary gala in 2015. BCAN was a source of hope for my family throughout my father’s battle, and continues to be a way to honor his legacy. I am so happy and grateful I can play even a small part in this meaningful work.