Rick’s Story: Bladder Cancer Was a New Beginning

Rick was diagnosed with bladder cancer on June 24, 2022, at age 55.  Here is his first-person account of his journey.

For the majority of my life, I maintained a healthy and active lifestyle. One Saturday morning, I woke up to use the restroom and discovered blood in my urine. I called my primary care physician, a retired nephrologist, at his home to let him know I had another kidney stone. I had two previously. He went on to ask me how bad my pain was, and to both of our surprise, there was not any; this concerned him. He said, “If you have no pain and have that particular symptom, then you have something else going on.” First thing Monday morning, I went in for a CAT scan.


Monday arrived and I went in for a scan of my kidneys; everything looked fine. My primary care physician suggested that I go to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta to have a cystoscope and was adamant that something was wrong. He let me know that he would feel better about my situation if I were doubled over in pain, but because I was not having pain and passing blood, it was cause for him to worry. When I look back, I am happy he did. The blood in my urine only lasted a few days, but I listened to him and took steps to figure this out.

The day came for my cystoscopy, which was fascinating to watch. As the doctor was checking things out, it seemed like everything was looking great until he decided to look from a different angle. I can remember him saying, “Uh oh.” He made me turn my head to look at the screen and then told me that I was looking at a papillary tumor in my bladder. This was a shock for me. My first question was, is the tumor malignant? They scraped the tumor for further observation. The test results returned, and it was.

To hear I had bladder cancer was a shock. You are never prepared to hear such news. You start to run down a list of things that could have possibly caused it, yet nothing on that list applied to me.

My doctor recommended that I have a TURBT (Transurethral resection of bladder tumor) procedure. The first availability was three weeks away. The waiting period was the worst part. I did not know what to expect, and my anxiety was getting the best of me. Three weeks later, I had the TURBT, and immediately after surgery, I was given a round of mitomycin C chemotherapy directly into my bladder. I was back home the same day. Luckily, the only minor complications was the urinary tract infection I got from the catheter I had in for nine days. I am blessed that the cancer was caught early and I was able to keep my bladder.

Many people diagnosed with bladder cancer or other cancers often feel like it is the end. I want my story to be a testament that this does not have to be the end. You will have times when you are down and feel like giving up, but do not be discouraged. There are so many options for treatment. My doctor was unsure about my treatment course when we first spoke. He said they would have to remove the tumor and then decide the next course of action. He did not know how invasive the tumor was on the bladder wall, but he assured me that we would have treatment options no matter what.

Every course of treatment can be different for everyone. It is based on individual circumstances and situations. So, be encouraged. There is so much out there in medicine and so many advances.

Recently I had my CAT scan and cystoscopy; everything was clear. I was informed that I will go back in another six months, and if that looks good, I can start coming in once a year. My advice to anyone reading my story would be to keep an upbeat attitude and know that things will be alright. Four days I spent down, depressed, and feeling sorry for myself until I thought about it and realized there were so many people who had situations worse than mine, and I had many things to be thankful for.

I am doing great mentally and have a real desire to tell the story and encourage other people going through this. When you first get the news, it is a punch in the gut, and you feel very deflated. Thanks to my family and faith, it helped me stay strong. My family and friends smothered me with so much love and moments when I was down, I would put on spiritual music to lift me. This journey is not one to an end but to a new beginning.

Read more bladder cancer patient stories.