Taking an Active Role in Your Care
You are an important part of your healthcare team. Keep your appointments. Share information with your doctor. Ask questions when you have them. Your health care provider will work with you to set up a treatment plan. The plan might also include ways to find emotional support. To feel more healthy and in control, do your best to follow your plan. Even after your treatment is over, return to your doctor for regular checkups. And, if you smoke, do whatever you can to quit. Quitting smoking is one of the best ways you can help yourself recover from bladder cancer.
Keep in Touch with Your Doctor
During and even after treatment, keep in touch with your doctor. Be sure to have your doctor address any questions or concerns you have. After all signs of cancer are gone, regular checkups help to be sure the cancer has not returned. Depending on which type of treatment you've had, checkups may include blood tests, x-ray tests, and cystoscopy. These are done every few months for several years. If cancer does return, it generally happens within the first two years after the initial cancer has been treated.
To make the most of your office visits, try these tips:
Make a list of things you want to talk about, including new treatments. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Jot down what your health care provider says.
Keep a diary. Describe changes in your condition and in how you feel. Bring the diary to office visits.
Ask about other health services, such as dietitians or physical therapists.
Ask if complementary care, such as acupuncture or herbs, might help.
Smoking is a major risk factor for bladder cancer. Smoking reduces the chances that your treatment will work. It also makes the cancer more likely to come back. If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Ask your doctor or other members of your healthcare team how to give up smoking for good. A stop-smoking clinic or support group can be very helpful. Tell family and friends that you're quitting and ask them to support you as well. Then do it. Smoking is a difficult habit to give up. But your health and life are worth it.
Cancer and its treatment can leave you feeling drained emotionally as well as physically. Feelings of anger, frustration, fear, depression, and denial are common. When you’re coping with a health problem, it’s normal to be sad or depressed at times. Some medications can also affect your mood. Still, if these feelings don’t go away, be sure to tell someone. Depression can be treated. Take control by talking about your feelings with members of your healthcare team. They can help you understand your feelings and work to overcome them. Also, stay close to your loved ones, who can help you through tough times. If you choose, share what you learn about your condition with the people in your life. Consider inviting family members along when you attend a support group meeting. Learning more about your condition can ease their concerns.
Accepting Your Body
Cancer can change the way you see yourself. During treatment, it may seem as though your body has betrayed you. You may be frustrated by feeling tired and sick. If you've had a urostomy, you may fell frightened or angry about the changes in your body. Both cancer and its treatments can affect how you feel about your sexuality. Many people with cancer have these feelings. Your healthcare team (particularly your enterostomal nurse if you have a stoma) can help you find ways to cope with and feel good about your body.
Looking Toward the Future
The outcome of your treatment can't be guaranteed. Still, many cases of bladder cancer can be cured completely. In other cases, the cancer can often be successfully controlled. Don't let cancer stop you from living your life to the fullest. As much as possible during your treatment and recovery, spend time with loved ones doing activities and hobbies you enjoy.
Notes to family and Friends
Your loved one may feel depressed, frustrated, or scared. This is common after a diagnosis of cancer. You might even fell this way yourself. Talk with each other about your feelings.
If your loved one smokes, do what you can to help him or her quit.
look into joining a support group for people who have family or friends with cancer.
Know that your loved one may have good days and bad days. This is normal during cancer treatment.