Well, the day had finally arrived; the one I dreaded yet anxiously anticipated. The first installment of the BCG treatment was scheduled this week.
For those of you (like me) with short term memory loss, let's review. The treatment recommended for this type cancer is called Immunotherapy. BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Geurin) is a live tuberculosis bacteria that is injected into the bladder. The bacteria then stimulates my own immune system to send in troops to fight the bacteria. It's like "Shock & Awe" to all enemies of the bladder; the troops indiscriminately kill all evil cells. Cancer, bacteria, they don't care! There will be six treatments, once a week until the enemy surrenders.
At 3:30 pm, I arrived at the doctors office with my body guards, Sue and Alison. As expected, once we hit the elevator to the second floor, I tried my escape. "Maybe I should consider a holistic approach to this cancer instead, let's go home!" My argument did not convince the tough minded family soldiers so on we went.
As if the medical assistant at the office knew of my internal struggle, I was called in before I even had a chance to think. OK, this is it, no turning back now. I'm not really afraid of the treatment, I'm nervous about the insertion of the dreaded catheter. The treatment will be injected directly into the bladder through the catheter.
Once my urine sample passed muster, it was time to begin. A numbing gel is applied to the area and then pushed into the urethra. After a few minutes to allow the gel to work, they inserted the catheter. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and 'viola' (French word inserted for Alison's enjoyment!), the worst was over in a couple seconds. As they injected the solution, I didn't feel a thing. Before long, the whole thing was over, we were in the office for only 15 minutes or so. Boy did I feel good once this was over. It really wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. I walked back into the waiting room and greeted Sue and Alison with a smile; one might even say I had a bit of a cocky smirk on my face!
Now at home, I would need to keep the solution in the bladder for 2 hours, then I was free to urinate normally. For the first hour, I needed to lay on my back, then on my stomach, and on each side, for 15 minutes each. This was to be sure the solution coated all areas of the bladder. I was a bit nervous about having to 'hold it' for 2 hours, but made it with no problem. The rest of the evening I felt just fine.
The following day, I went back to work as normal. The side effects of this treatment include fever and nausea, or basically feeling you have flu-like symptoms. None of that for me, I felt great the day after. The only thing that bothered me was some burning and bleeding while urinating and that is normal after this type procedure. A great anxiety has been lifted now that I've gone through the first session without incident.
To further boost my spirits, I went for a short run the following day after work. It's still a struggle compared to where I was 6 months ago, but it felt good to get in a couple miles. I'm feeling more and more confident every day. So, if you're a certain brother-in-law, you may want to step up your training, my next race may be sooner than I anticipated!