A routine MRI for a work-related injury revealed a jarring presence: a hidden tumor in Brian’s bladder. He had actually had blood in his urine since 2018. Following a transurethral resection of bladder tumor, the diagnosis was clear: bladder cancer. Yet, amidst uncertainty, Brian Trickel found solace in the support of loved ones and BCAN, urging him to share his story:

My bladder cancer was detected in March of 2023 when the doctors found a tumor. Before that, the Veterans Administration (VA) had records from 2018 up to now, in which the reports said I had traces of blood in my urine, but none of the doctors followed up with me. In March of 2023, I had an accident at work where I fractured my L4-L5. During the MRI to look at the fractures, they noticed a five-centimeter tumor in my bladder.

Once the mass was discovered, I was referred to a urologist at the VA. He went in with a cystoscope, examined it, and said, “Yep, that’s a tumor.” It was diagnosed as non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. From there, the doctors performed a trans urethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT).  Once the tumor was removed, thankfully, I did not have to have chemotherapy afterward.

About four months later and after my TURBT, I had a recurrence where the doctors found four smaller tumors, anywhere from 0.5 centimeters up to 1.5 centimeters. I then had my second TURBT done in December of 2023. I wasn’t offered BCG treatments at any point so I’m currently on my fifth dose of intravesical Gemcitabine. I am being treated at the Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

I want people to know that even a microscopic amount of blood in your urine should be checked out. If the VA had followed through back in 2018 when I had traces of blood in my urine, things possibly could have been a little bit different than what they are now.  I suspect my tumors came from exposure to burn pits when I was serving overseas.

There’s also a secondary possibility besides the burn pits that I got bladder cancer. I grew up at Camp Lejeune as a kid with the toxic water. Federal health officials have said that those stationed at Camp Lejeune and from 1975 to 1985 and their dependents had at least a 20% higher risk for a number of cancers than those stationed elsewhere because of the base’s contaminated drinking water supply.  Because I was a military dependent, I didn’t qualify for VA benefits.

Bladder cancer hasn’t been a hindrance in terms of my work, but my fractured back has been because I’m still dealing with it. It’s the primary reason my bladder cancer was even discovered. The good news is that my job has been great with giving me time off to go through my treatments.

My family, friends, and even my Instagram friends, all of them have been supportive. They’re always checking up on me.

BCAN has also been a great resource. I found the organization through Google and some of the materials that the urology clinic gave me at the VA hospital were from BCAN. I’ve also read some of the patient stories. I shared my story on the Inspire website as well. I’ve received some great resources through them. It drove me to tell others about my bladder cancer story.