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Patient Story

My cancer journey is a feel-good story because after almost 12 years post-surgery and treatment, I feel
good about my health, my future, and how fortunate I was to have had a relatively easy journey. And I don’t take that for granted after seeing so many family members, friends, and colleagues struggle with many aspects of their care, face reoccurrences, or worry about their future.

I was diagnosed in March 2012 with bladder cancer after not experiencing any of the common risk factors. Blood in my urine was the only sign, and I was fortunate that my cancer was caught early. Two surgeries to remove the tumor and a lengthy BCG regimen (once a week for six weeks followed by several months of maintenance treatments) later, I was back to my old self. Other than occasional headaches after treatment, I had no difficulties during my treatment.

My follow-up is an annual cystoscopy – a quick and painless procedure to examine my bladder to ensure the cancer has not returned. The only blip was a national BCG shortage, which meant I had to stop treatment early. That worried me a bit at the time, but I was reassured that I had enough treatments to combat the cancer.

I know how lucky I am to have had my health and outlook restored. But the experience changed me in ways I didn’t expect. I am even more grateful for my health, my family and friends, and even the simple, everyday occurrences – a sunrise, laughter, relationships, and conversations – hold much more importance and meaning to me.

My journey also led me to volunteer opportunities to share my experiences through patient groups – first for the Rogel Cancer Center at Michigan Medicine where I received my treatment, then with MOQC and POQC. There I’ve been fortunate to participate in the MOQC Steering Committee, Measures Committee, POEM, PROs, and Palliative Care teams as well as POQC, including the Recruitment and Retention and Financial Navigation committees.

I joined POQC with the hope that my cancer experience could help others, but I’ve benefitted more from those opportunities than I can ever give. I’ve learned so
much about cancer care and resilience. My patient voice has felt valued and respected many times over. And I’ve met some truly amazing people: strong women and men whose cancer stories and spirit are inspiring and humbling, as well as talented MOQC professionals who are exceptionally motivated to improve the cancer experience and who are the kindest people I’ve ever met.

Life takes many paths – some expected, some not – and while no one would choose to take a cancer journey, it led me to MOQC. For that I am very fortunate. My life has been enriched doing volunteer work that is important and meaningful. MOQC is – and will always be – one of the most special touchpoints
in my life.