Karen's Letter

Dear Karen,

You must’ve been in denial. Why else would you have gone to the appointment alone? Alone when you heard the words “bladder cancer.” Alone on the drive home when your whole life flashed in front of you and it felt like you were continually stabbed by thoughts of dying. Alone when you told your husband. Except you will barely be able to recount what the doctor said.

You’ll need to learn as much as you can about your disease. But don’t make yourself nuts with some of the crazy advice that’s out there on the internet. Don’t stop asking questions until you completely understand the answer.

You’ll continue to feel alone. Your husband will be there—your rock—but he won’t really understand. He won’t be able to relate to you being the only woman sitting in a waiting room filled with old men. You’ll need to find a support group for that—and you will. Through it you’ll meet other women with bladder cancer, share experiences, ideas, and ways to cope. The comfort you will get will be a relief.

And then one day, complete shock and disbelief. After two years, you’ll become the caregiver as your husband is diagnosed with bladder cancer. You’ll both realize this new journey is paved by what you learned and experienced. That site where you found your support group has expanded and your husband will find invaluable support and friendship of his own. Readily accept the help that neighbors and friends offer. Jot down a list of tasks that would make life easier for you. When folks offer, say “yes.”

None of this will be easy for you, but know that there is help out there. You are not alone! You can do this! I’m sure of it.

With Love,

Me

Karen is both a bladder cancer survivor and caregiver

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