Walter Had Stage IV, Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer

My bladder cancer journey started just 10 years ago. I was exercising every day and losing weight on purpose. One day I came home from the gym and started urinating blood. I did that every day after I left the gym so I called my urologist and went and saw him.  He performed a cystoscopy and found Stage IV, muscle invasive bladder cancer.  The end result was that I needed to have my bladder removed.

My wife is a registered nurse and we did some research and found who we thought were the two best bladder cancer doctors in the country. The first one was in Dallas and we decided that was too far so we selected the second doctor in New York City at Weill Cornell – Dr. Douglas Scherr. He turned out to be excellent. I still see him every year.


Getting bladder cancer was discouraging for me. I’d worked so hard to get into shape and then needed to spend so much time in bed. I remember a physical therapist in the hospital got me up to walk two days after surgery.  I told her that I’d been running five miles a day prior to that.

I chose a neobladder over some of the other urinary diversions because it seemed like the best idea at the time. I enjoy swimming and so there would be no problem going to the pool to get exercise.

I had trouble emptying my neobladder at first and was getting urinary tract infections and so my doctor put me on a low dose of Bactrim daily which I take prophylactically. I also catheterize now twice a day and that seems to work. I haven’t had a UTI since I started this new regimen.

My urologist and I spoke briefly about potential causes for my bladder cancer. I was a firefighter and I was also a smoker when I was in the service in the early 70s or mid-70s.  I’m still amazed, that when we were in the service, we were encouraged to smoke. Every time you took a break, it says, “Smoke them if you got them, if you don’t got them, bum one from your buddy.” So I smoked heavily for at least those three years I was in the service and for a year or two after before I gave it up entirely.

I try to keep a positive attitude.  My father was a hopeless optimist and that rubbed off on me. I go into these things thinking, “It’s just a short term thing. I’m going to get over this and come out of it.” So far it’s worked.

I still get plenty of exercise, usually walking. I don’t run as much as I did because I had a knee replacement.  I still participate in one or two 5Ks a year for fundraising but I mostly walk.

As for my advice to others, I encourage bladder cancer patients to trust their doctors, trust the professionals and do whatever they tell you to do to get through it. It works.