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I Survived Bladder Cancer By Vincent E. Sussman

Sunday, October 3, 1999

            Today, it is a beautiful day. I just returned from my two-mile walk and feel refreshed and fairly calm. Tomorrow, I check into St. Raphael Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.  On Tuesday, October 5, I will undergo a serious operation to remove my bladder and replace it with an exterior plastic bag.  Two months ago, when I was going out to play golf, I noticed my urine was wine colored. It appeared to be blood.  My golf game was worse than usual.  When I returned home, I mentioned the blood in my urine to my wife, Rhoda.  She was quite upset and told me to call my doctor immediately.

            The earliest appointment I could schedule with my urologist was several days later.  I was told to bring a sample of urine to the lab for testing.  The tests were negative for infection.  Although my urologist, Dr. Ralph DeVito, could not find any problem, he set up an appointment for a cystoscope.  This was done a week later and he observed what appeared to be a polyp on my bladder.  He ordered tests for a CAT scan, but my HMO refused it because my PSA was normal. Instead, he ordered an ultrasound and an IVP (Intravenous Polygram).  The tests confirmed an obstruction in my bladder.  The procedure to remove the "polyp" would be done as an outpatient.  If it were more serious, I would have to stay over.

            On Tuesday, August 2, 1999, I checked into St. Raphael Hospital.  The "polyp" turned out to be a number 4 cancer.  I stayed in the hospital for three days.  The pathology report confirmed the cancer.  My doctor ordered a CAT scan. This time my HMO approved it. The CAT scan revealed that the cancer had not spread. It was limited to the walls of my bladder.  My urologist wanted to operate within two weeks.  It was just two weeks before my 80th birthday and I was not ready.  I wanted a second opinion.