WBCPC

Bladder Cancer Awareness - Between Diagnosis and Surgery

My Reflection

I remind folks reading this series of blog posts related to my own non-muscle invasive bladder cancer journey that these are reflections related to my own personal journey in 2014 and forward. Each individual may have a slightly different experience, or a drastically different experience in their bladder cancer journey. I am hopeful that my posts are giving some helpful insights into my own journey - which may in some respects be similar to what others are experiencing or have experienced. In many ways I was fortunate to have been diagnosed with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. I was diagnosed early, got it out of there, underwent treatments with BCG (more to follow) and in my mind I have been all clear since my TURBT in 2014.

Between Diagnosis and Surgery

There was that period between being diagnosed with what was assumed to be two cancerous tumours and the date of surgery. My urologist also mentioned that one of the tumours was close to a ureter and could potentially be cause for concern on possibly impacting that ureter.

Seeking More Information

So...where does one turn after leaving the office of the urologist being told you have bladder cancer and your surgery is scheduled for March 24 !?

Telling Family and Friends

Firstly, my wife was always moments away walking in the park behind Sunnybrook "on the ready" to pick me up. She arrived at the lower level and naturally asked "how did it go?". Well I said, I am diagnosed with bladder cancer. She said "what!". At that point I realize that I know as much as her, except that I had the pleasure of going through the cystoscopy and actually seeing the tumours on the screen.

We proceeded home and onto the computer to assess what bladder cancer involved. Naturally I would not know the stage or grade or severity until after the surgery was complete, the doctor had assessed his work and pathology reported on the results. More to follow on that.

So...what does one do at this stage? Firstly, we decided that we would be very open with family and friends. This wasn't something that I/we were going to hide from. However - we did fully understand what news that we were able to convey. I think that is important, because family and friends are likely to have more questions than you have answers.

Resources You Can Count On

I started with "Dr. Google". Although many will say...don't search on google, you will find all kinds of wrongful information - I started by looking for groups where patients were in conversation. I found the Inspire Network initially that is based in the US. It was fed off the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network in the USA. Interestingly enough, when I connect with folks on the Inspire Network - they referred me to Jack Moon in Canada. Jack is one of the Co-Founders of Bladder Cancer Canada. Bladder Cancer Canada is the national patient support network in Canada. They have rich resources, patient guide books, backed up by a medical and research advisory board, peer to peer support avails and an ongoing discussion forum where patients can engage in conversation about their own story and challenges. NOTE - I am currently the Volunteer Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada...more to come on that.

After connect with Jack and finding all of the resources at Bladder Cancer Canada, I was more versed in all that I would be facing in the next stages of my bladder cancer journey.

I was also fortunate to have a friend at work who said that a close friend of his had experienced bladder cancer. We met briefly over coffee and he re-assured me that in his mind, me catching this early, was going to prove to be beneficial and that hopefully the tumours removed would be surface of the bladder and thus non-muscle invasive and not into the wall of the bladder that could result in more serious surgical procedures and possible removal of the bladder.

Rest up For Surgery

All of this said, by the time I vacationed with my wife and son in Aruba for a week, just prior to surgery - I had a pretty good feeling of being informed about what I was facing and the various possible outcomes that might ensue.

Bladder Cancer Canada

In Canada, by connecting with Bladder Cancer Canada, their people, the resources, their guidebooks,  the fellow patients, discussion forums...you will be ready to start your bladder cancer journey and moving forward along this path with abundant resources.

@FergDevins


Cystoscopy

Bladder Cancer Awareness - The Cystoscopy

Ok you've had your initial concerns expressed by your GP, you've headed off to the urologist, the urologist might have run some more tests, maybe another scan or ultra-sound and now they think that they would like you to have a cystoscopy.

In essence this is an opportunity for your urologist to go up into the bladder with a tiny little camera and have an exploratory look around.

So...you're thinking "a camera up my what !?". Smiles...trust me, if you are on the path of assessing whether or not you have bladder cancer, you will want to just trust the guidance of your medical team and book this as quickly as possible so that they can assess your situation.

You will be asked to disrobe, likely put on a hospital gown or two (back and front). You will climb up on a table in a procedural suite of some sort where you will put your legs in stirrups. The nurse will give you a quick wash down there and then likely give you some freezing gel that will help numb the area so that the scope can then be inserted up through the urethra and into the bladder. For males you might find a slight discomfort as the cystoscope passes by the prostate gland. Try and be as calm and tension free as possible, sometimes good to take a deep breath. It may also help for you to take a tylenol before the procedure to further minimize discomfort.

The doctor may draw a small sample of urine from the bladder. The doctor performing the cystoscopy will fill your bladder up with saline to expand the bladder for best viewing opportunity. You will likely have a chance to view the inside of your bladder along with the doctor and his team. The team may include the nurse that prepped you and possible a resident student if your hospital is an educational university institution. In fact the resident may actually perform the cystoscopy and then call your urologist to take a look at the findings.

In my situation, Dr. Kodama saw two small tumours in the bladder. They almost resembled a cauliflower shape. On viewing what was in the bladder the Doctor tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I think you are likely going to need a small operative procedure (my recollection...likely  not his exact words).

The procedure might take up to ten minutes or less.

After the examination you will get dressed and then meet with your urologist for a de-brief to discuss next steps. I'll cover that de-brief in the next blog post.

@FergDevins


Urologist

Bladder Cancer Awareness Month - The Urologist

Referred to Urologist

So you've had your trials and tribulations. You've been to your general practitioner with some sort of symptom. They have decided through tests or observations that you should be referred to a urologist for a follow up on what they have found.

In my case I had been advised that a CT scan was showing something in my bladder. My doctor advised that it appeared to be very minor, but he wanted to send me to Sunnybrook Health Sciences to seek a further follow up by a specialist - urologist.

Upon Arrival

Upon arrival at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, I checked in and was then seen by a "resident" who was training in urology. I explained my situation, he read the reports from my doctor and then the urologist - Dr. Ron Kodama - came in to visit me and further assess my situation.

The Plan forward

Based on the report from my doctor and the CT scan results, Dr. Kodama advised that he would like to have a cystoscopy undertaken by me so that they could go into the bladder and see what was going on. In essence the cystoscopy is a camera that goes up into the bladder to present a view from inside the bladder.

At this point I also believe that blood and urine samples were taken and my follow up appointment for cystoscopy was  booked for the following week.

Cystoscopy to be Booked

At this point there was no reference or mention of bladder cancer at all. Naturally I went home to follow up on what on earth a cystoscopy was. That's tomorrow's blog post.

I hope that you are finding this personal recount of my journey helpful.

See you tomorrow.

@FergDevins


How's that New Year Resolution going?

How's that new year resolution going?

So it is still very early in the new year. Heck February 22nd...still early in 2021. Are you still on track with that new year's resolution list?

We can sometimes get a little antsy about the promises we made to ourselves for the new year. There might be even more pressure if that new year resolution actually impacted more than just you and your plan for the year. You spoke those words, now you need the plan for action.

Let's face it, 2020 was a year like no other, never, nadda, nope - and hopefully not one like that ever again!

I like to think that my intentions for the year are pretty straight forward. My plan for action is underway. Eating more healthfully (dabbling with the 17 day diet) - More active (target 10,000 steps a day...or 5K walk a day) - Monitoring food (just simply getting back to eating healthy, smaller portions, less fat, cut back on the wings, reduce adult beverages) -  More focused on social networks (Interesting find of the new Clubhouse App which is actually like a conversational podcast where you get to participate). Goals are not too lofty - but no matter how grand they need to be actioned.

It is said that it takes 21 days to create a habit or 21 days to rid yourself of a habit. To keep the new habit it takes commitment and determination. A commitment to self discipline.

With all of the positive words, phrases, thoughts for 2021 - you might have some fun with this word art tool below. If nothing else it might give you some inspiration in your workspace.

Have some fun and create some word art with some of the thoughts that are on your mind for your world in 2021:

When you look at your list you will find different magnitudes of thought and interest. Some of the thoughts might have a significant consequence, some of them minor, some of them are things that should just get done.  On a lighter scale, some are perhaps wishful thoughts. Hey...why not dream a little bit too.

Reinforcing Personal Commitment

None of it will get done, without a commitment to do and action to follow.

Furthermore, whatever it is that you/we/ I want to get done - it doesn't just magically happen because someone decided to make it happen for us. We have the power to take the action and get on with the doing. As I often say "Your Day is only as good as YOU make it".

Three Resources To Consider

I've always been a big fan of Chris Brogan and Rob Hatch at owner.org. Chris always kicks off the year with the practice of defining his three words. It is a powerful way to focus on three contextual words that can set up goals and your purpose for the year ahead. What's really important here is that they set a context for action. They are not necessarily initiatives unto themselves. They set a context to shift the mindset to help you get focussed on who and what you need to be to get things moving in a direction. That direction might be a continued direction or a new direction or perhaps a level above last year's direction. The important factor, in my opinion, is that they are foundational. They lay a foundation for the rest of the year. Chris and Rob have ongoing webinars and a slew of resources for personal and business development needs.

Another person I have come to respect and follow is Dr. Benjamin Hardy. Ben has been working on a really great 12 month program since he first launched is "52 Week Momentum" course and weekly coaching through to his current AMP (Accelerated Momentum Program) that integrates accountability pods with weekly check ins. Lots of great resources at Benjamin Hardy. Benjamin has his PHD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The Facebook group brings people from around the world together in conversations of possibility. Benjamin also writes some very inspiring and helpful posts at Medium. He's one of the leading writers in that space and his clear thinking and suggestions for success are wonderfully inspiring.

Finally, an annual event that focused on social media - the Social Media Marketing World Summit - was a wonderful conference held in San Diego in March. Last year I attended. We were the last 4500 person conference in the San Diego Convention Centre before the COVID-19 lockdown. Amazed that we got in and out of there without a major situation as the pandemic descended upon the states. Social Media Examiner is the oversight group and lots of wonderful resources. I'm a member of the Social Media Marketing Society with great online resources available at every turn and such a welcoming and supportive group on all platforms.

Structured Support

So don't despair. Find your support network and system that you need to fulfil on success this year and for years to come. It might be a friend that you meet for coffee each week, your spouse, your children, your extended family or a mentor and coach. Perhaps your team at work needs to have a morning or afternoon workshop to determine "what's important and how are we going to get it done".For you personally, it can also be various personal support systems. Fitness - A Trainer, Diet - "Lose It App", "NOOM", Social Media Knowledge - Social Media Examiner, Finances -  Freshbooks, New prospects - Clubhouse and the list goes on.

Like the famous weight loss coach for men Harvey Brooker used to say, "If you could have done it alone, you would have done it already (R.I.P.)".

Take Action NOW

Importantly, don't let another month slide by and still be sitting at the current place with respect to fulfilling your plan for the new year. Take action today. Map it out, write it down, plan milestones, make commitments, journal it, envision it, calendarize it. As Benjamin Hardy would suggest - decide who you need "to be" to make that happen.

Wishing you a Great 2021

Finally, when you question yourself about how that new year resolution is going, what response would you like to have for yourself? By setting your goals, with a plan for action, your year will be as good as you want to make it. 2021 can only be better than 2021 - Let's do this!

Wishing you much happiness, peace, joy, and harmony in 2021. Cheers!

@fergdevins


Rita Winkler

Rita Winkler - Her Art - Her World

Meet Rita

Rita Winkler is the niece of a life-long friend of mine, Mark Winkler. She is the grand daughter of former Mayor of Kenora, Ontario - Kelvin Winkler. They name may be familiar given the recognition that the City of Kenora gave to Kelvin's work and legacy in his community - Winkler Harbourfront Park on Bernier Drive.

Rita is an inspiration for us all. Her art is a special gift to the world.

She gives back to her community through her work and through her art.

Rita's Book Launch

Rita is launching her new childrens' book "My Art, My World" - You can PRE-ORDER with this link.

Rita Winkler is a young woman living with Down syndrome. In My Art, My World she shows us the world as she sees it: a place full of joy, colour, and the delight of life with her family and friends.

Approaching her daily life with enthusiasm and a dry sense of humour, Rita rides public transit to her job working at a university coffee shop. She takes yoga and folk dance classes and enjoys art, drama, and music at a day program. When it’s time to celebrate holidays and the birthdays of those she loves, Rita likes to mark the occasions with paintings and handmade cards.

I have had the pleasure of receiving one of her early edition books and some beautiful hand made cards that she included as a thank you.

Follow Rita

FOLLOW Rita on her promotional Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/RitasArtBook

You can also FOLLOW Rita on Instagram at  https://www.instagram.com/ritawinkler82/


Use Your Words for #BellLetsTalk Day

#BellLetsTalkDay

Through these challenging times we can all pay a little closer attention to each other and our mental health and wellness. This #BellLetsTalkDay is a great day for you to just listen a little more intently to the phrases and comments we make that have just become part of our language and lexicon.

Phrases and Words

I'm referring to those phrases and words that perhaps perpetuate the stigma or context of mental wellness, or those facing personal challenges.

I'm raising this in a light-hearted context, but concerning a serious matter. The matter is our concern and promotion of all things mental wellness, mental health, mental illness, mental stability, stable mindedness. The list goes on.

I am referring to some of those phrases that you might give a second thought to, as you reference them today and from this day forward.

Let's be more sensitive and more present to those words and situations that may actually be more "sensitive" than what meets the eye. What appears on the surface, is not always representative of what is below the surface or on a person's mind.

Someone may actually need your help, assistance or empathy if they are facing or dealing with a mental health matter.

Here's a short list that comes to mind. You might have others to add.

"That's just crazy"

"Are you out of your mind"

"Are you nuts"

"Are your meds working"

"Are you off your meds..."

"Who do you think you are..."

"Wow a little schitzo"

"That's a downer"

"There's a dark cloud hanging over them"

"You look panicked"

"She / He is a maniac"

"Just the ups and downs of life"

"That is just psycho"

"They are disturbed"

"Why so negative"

"wow, they're in a bad mood"

"A few screws loose over there..."

"That's just insane"

"They are a little skiddish"

"They are a little odd"

"That seems a little loony to me"

Did you catch yourself from the past making a comment, or thinking one of these phrases, or another?

Thanks for helping make a difference today and every day in promoting mental wellness.

#MentalWellness the #BellLetsTalk day.

Conclusion

I often refer to a statement I saw at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver - "If we take the I from Illness and make it a WE for wellness we move from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness". Let's not leave anyone alone.

@fergdevins

 


Christmas music

When the Christmas Tunes stop playing on the radio

...are your passengers demanding another station yet?

This season is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year. Christmas tunes start to appear as a constant track of music on many stations on or around the date of American Thanksgiving. They have even started a little earlier with some stations, given this unique year and its challenges.

Some stations are reported to start playing Christmas music non-stop on November 01, right after Halloween. By the time boxing day rolls around, it is almost a relief when they finally stop playing Christmas songs on the radio. There are lots of variations of our favourite tunes. However, there seems to be that relief following Christmas Day when the stations with the holiday music revert back to top tunes of the day.

Sirius/XM Canada have a few different options for holiday music listening. Some come to an end with boxing day, while others will remain on track until December 30th.

In Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", he refers to this as an "awesome" moment, "Because at some point we all stop caring what Bing Crosby is dreaming about".

Regardless, there is truly something special about the wonderful tried and true tunes of Christmas, as well as the new versions and recordings of present-day artists. One of note again this year is the wonderful work by Gentri Music. It reminds us of the holiday joy that we experience through the singing of Christmas tunes during the holiday season at Christmas. These lads have done some masterful work, and some amazing holiday videos as well. It was also very inspiring to see the Holly Dolly Christmas special and the release of the Dolly Parton holiday album - a first in 30 years.

Here's to your listening pleasure this holiday season and all year round. Enjoy those special tunes these last few days of the 2020 holiday season.

@FergDevins


The Story of "Silent Night"

THE STORY OF SILENT NIGHT

While travelling in Europe visiting Christmarkets in Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic, I had the wonderful occasion of experiencing a tour related to the original writing and performance of Silent Night. It is a wonderful story about a composer and poet that produced one of the most well known and favourite pieces of Christmas music ever produced. Feel free to sing along.

Merry Christmas

CLICK BELOW

https://youtu.be/OQSwGNkE6xQ

 


Warm up by the fire

Warm up by the fire

Whether wood burning or gas lit - something special about the sparkle of a winter’s fire

The Christmas holiday season makes for the perfect time to be in the great outdoors. And once you are back in from the cold and play, the perfect opportunity awaits for you to warm up by the fire.

In Neil Pasricha’s “The Book of (Holiday) Awesome” he talks about the awesomeness of staring into the fire.

Truly there is something special when you light up the fire after returning from a winter wonderland walk, toboggan run, snowboard, skate on the pond, snow mobile ride or walk around the park with the dog.

Having a chance to warm up by the fire is not only a great way to shed yourself of winter cold, but a great way to connect with family and friends to reminisce about the year that has passed.

Of course many of the traditional fires have been replaced by gas inserts. Nonetheless, the warmth and joy of a fire mid-winter is still a pretty awesome moment during the holidays. Throw another log on the fire.

Wishing you much warmth and happiness this holiday season.

@fergdevins


Christmas tree lights

When the Christmas Tree is the Only Light

How many lights does it take to create your desired glow?

Presents are wrapped, baking is complete, plans are made for the holidays, kids are either in bed or on their own playing, the tv is off, the iPad is closed, the iPhone is silenced and it is time. It is time to turn off all the lights and experience that special moment when the Christmas Tree is the only light on in your home.

The tree simply glistens. With it comes memories of years gone by with family and friends. Dreams of cold winter nights with a fire burning, a hot tottie in hand and a fresh piece of shortbread.

When the Christmas tree is the only light on in the home, you can almost hear the angels singing your favourite carols in your mind. The pine scent is filling the room and ornaments twinkle in the lights.

In  Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", this is one of the moments that he captures as awesome. It is truly awesome. Peace, harmony, light and just simply a moment of silence reflecting with your own little Christmas creation - your Christmas tree.

Wishing you this moment for you and loved ones this Christmas. Just take that moment to dim or turn off the lights and let your tree shine brightly.

@fergdevins