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December 24 , 2008

The Harrowing Medical Journey of a Cancer Survivor


The Harrowing Medical Journey of a Cancer Survivor is the story of one woman’s courageous and, at times page-turning, story coping with a severe illness that lasted more than a decade. It began with a diagnosis of low-grade bladder cancer and ended with the removal and/or reconstruction of vital organs. Although the story is specific to bladder cancer and its aftermath, it covers aspects inherent in any serious, and sometimes life-threatening, illness. Typical emotions experienced during such a frightening illness are discussed: anger, hope, depression, fear, anxiety, and, yes, even pleasure and satisfaction. Successful (and not so successful) ways of coping with these difficult emotions are also discussed, covering such aspects as cancer groups and psychotherapy, the support of family and close friends, and assertiveness with “bossy” medical personnel. There are over seventy-three thousand cases of bladder cancer a year in the United States. In some cases, simple surgery to remove the tumors will be the only treatment. In other cases, the bladder may be removed and a new one reconstructed from a section of large intestine. In still other cases, as in the author’s, the bladder cancer can metastasize, or spread, to other organs. About 5 percent of people in the United States with bladder cancer will die from it. The good news is that less people are dying from it each year. Although The Harrowing Medical Journey of a Cancer Survivor is a story about the treatment and, finally, cure or bladder cancer, it should be helpful to anyone living through a difficult, possibly life-threatening, illness. Topics are covered that apply to anyone going through such an illness—topics such as undergoing major surgery; choosing the great (as well as the inadequate) doctors and surgeons; finances; staying fit; nutrition; the anxious wait for reports (like CT scans and biopsies); chemotherapy; the dread of inevitable treatments, like dialysis; and transplants. In addition, and because the author is a novelist, this story is often gripping and non-put-downable.
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