Raising Awareness and The Importance of Advocacy in Bladder Cancer

At the age of 56, Dave’s life changed forever when he noticed a small amount of blood in his urine. A subsequent ultrasound and biopsy revealed that he had an aggressive form of Stage IV bladder cancer. After exploring a series of treatment options, Dave’s cancer is now in remission. Today, Dave spends his days with his wife of 34 years, Lorraine, and their busy family as they continue to grow and make new memories. He also remains passionate about staying active in the bladder cancer community.

In recognition of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), Dave shares his perspective on bladder cancer, the need for awareness and importance of advocacy.

What was it like for you, finding out that you had advanced bladder cancer?

Dave: I was shocked, the idea that I could have bladder cancer had never crossed my mind. It was devastating and at times things felt hopeless, but I tried to stay positive. My family—especially my wife Lorraine—were a huge support.

Why is raising awareness of bladder cancer so important?

Dave: I think a lot of people are unaware of the symptoms of bladder cancer. And even when people notice symptoms, they may mistake it for something else or be too embarrassed to talk about it. To me, that’s one of the biggest reasons that awareness is so important and why I share my story. Helping spread the word so that people are aware of the symptoms and feel comfortable talking to their doctor means they’ll have a better chance of catching the cancer earlier when there’s a better chance for successful treatment.

Why is it important to you to stay active in the bladder cancer community?

Being diagnosed with bladder cancer is a devastating experience, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and to lose hope. Advocacy groups not only provide trusted resources and support scientific research, they also offer emotional support for people living with bladder cancer. Realizing that you’re not alone, and having a community of people who are going through or have been through the same struggle really makes a difference.

For the past three years I’ve been involved with the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), specifically the annual Walk to End Bladder Cancer event. The event helps to raise awareness about bladder cancer and proceeds from the walk help support bladder cancer advocacy and research. I’m the captain of the Brave for Dave team, and proud to say that last year our team was the second highest fundraiser in the US.

What is your advice for someone newly diagnosed with bladder cancer?

Dave: It’s ok to be scared but know that you are not alone and that there is hope. Talk to your doctor and don’t be afraid to ask questions and to be your own advocate. After my diagnosis and during my treatment I did a lot of research. It was actually through this research and talking to my doctor, that I learned about and was enrolled in the clinical trial that saw my cancer go into remission.

With all of the work that’s being done – by advocates and the broader cancer community – are you hopeful for the future?

Dave: I know there’s a lot of important research being done, and I’m hopeful that it will result in more treatment options, and a better outlook for people with bladder cancer. I’m so fortunate to have been given this extra time with my family and friends, to see my daughter get married and welcome my first grandchild. I think there is still more work to be done, no doubt about that, but I believe in a future where bladder cancer isn’t the devastating diagnosis it is today.  

Where to find more information…

Organizations such as the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) provide a wealth of resources for bladder cancer patients and their loved ones. For 15 years, BCAN has been on a mission to increase public awareness about bladder cancer, advance bladder cancer research, and provide educational and support services for the bladder cancer community.

“This year, more than 81,000 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer, making it one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US,” said Andrea Maddox-Smith, CEO of BCAN. “Bladder Cancer Awareness Month is an important moment in time to help raise awareness of the disease, but it’s important to remember that the work to support those living with bladder cancer must continue year-round.”

Thank you to BCAN for their unwavering commitment to addressing the needs of those living with bladder cancer over the last 15 years. We’re proud to work alongside BCAN and the rest of the bladder cancer community towards our shared vision to eliminate bladder cancer as a cause of death. For additional information and resources about bladder cancer, visit www.bcan.org