That’s one topic discussed by Bladder Cancer Canada’s Tawny Barratt and cancer survivor Angela in this podcast.
In the podcast, Angela tells Tawny she was born with spina bifida. “My spine was on the other side of my back in a sack the size of an orange. I needed surgery to fix that and there was a lot of nerve damage.”
Among other things, her brain wasn’t communicating with her bladder. “There was never a signal saying, ‘it’s time to go.’ My parents were told I would need to be catheterized every day of my life.”
With each catheter costing about $10 and the procedure needed up to 10 times a day, costs mounted. “Medical staff taught my mom how to sanitize them so they could be reused. As I got older, I would stretch out my reuse of catheters as much as I could.”
Perhaps it was the reuse, the number of times needed, or the inflammation from having to do it at all, that led to another medical issue. Angela began having frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs). “Sometimes I could flush them out with water or drinking lots of fluids, but I was also on antibiotics for years. This is something very common for people with spina bifida.”
In her late 30s, though, another health problem developed: bladder cancer. “In August of 2018 I noticed large blood clots in my urine. I immediately made a doctor's appointment because I'd never seen that before. It was first treated as a UTI but I had chronic pain in my bladder and kidneys, so I went back to my doctor.”
Listen to Angela talk about how her non muscle invasive bladder cancer quickly progressed to muscle invasive and after numerous forms of failed treatment, she had her bladder removed in May 2021.
She shares how the Bladder Cancer Canada website and patient guidebooks provided the information and support she needed when fighting an aggressive cancer that no one in her life knew much about.
This podcast is generously sponsored by Coloplast Canada.
BCC note: Using a catheter does not mean that you will get bladder cancer. Catheterization is widely recommended and recognized by urologists and nurses. If you need to use a catheter, it’s recommended you learn more about their use and proper sanitization.