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A Welcome “Nuisance”

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When one thinks of running their first half or full marathon, it’s the condition of their feet, knees, or lungs they are most concerned about on race day.  But any experienced runner will tell you that it’s often a different body part – their bladder – that they most worry about before a race starts.  The bladder, you see, can be a nuisance:

  • “When’s the best time to empty it before the race begins?”
  • “Where are the best places on the course to empty it during the race?”
  • And for most of my races, “How quickly is this beer I’m drinking going to make me have to empty my bladder again?”
Another beer stop on the way to marathon success!

Another beer stop on the way to marathon success!

Ironically, it’s my running that is now credited for saving this little nuisance of an organ.  You see, for over a year now, I have been living with Micropapillary Bladder Cancer (MPBC).

This all started when I began experiencing complications after my training runs. My hopes that these were related to something simple like kidney stones were dashed when an ultrasound showed I had a tumor on my bladder. After a month of being poked, prodded and tested, I had the tumor removed.

It was a toomah!

It was a toomah!

The overwhelming majority of cancers in the bladder are easily treated through a medical process. Unfortunately, pathology reports confirmed that my tumor was MPBC.  MPBC is so aggressive that by the time it’s diagnosed, the cancer has usually spread to the point that doctors must immediately remove the entire bladder.

This is where being an active runner changed my fortunes.  My doctors believe my running caused me to experience the symptoms much earlier than someone who lived a more sedentary lifestyle.  As a result, the tumor was still “non-invasive”.  This low level of MPBC tumor progression is so rarely seen that specialists and both Johns Hopkins and GWU advised that there was no precedence on which to base a treatment recommendation.  I was that rare!

There's a tee shirt for every occasion - or diagnosis

There’s a tee shirt for every occasion – or diagnosis

Fortunately, GWU believed I was still “too young” (40’s are the new 20’s) to have my bladder removed.  So we embarked on a strategy to avoid surgery and see if the standard medical treatments could be effective.

A little over a year later, I still have my bladder, and I’m still running.  Bladder cancer is something that will require a lifetime of monitoring and treatments, so who knows what the future will hold.  That said, a couple weeks ago, I PR’d in my latest half-marathon, during the Runner’s Marathon of Reston.

I wasn't "Rest'n", I was "Run'n"!

I wasn’t “Rest’n”, I was “Run’n”!

I can assure you that during the entire race, I never once thought of my bladder (and its fullness) as a nuisance.  Instead, it was a steady reminder of what my life could have been if I wasn’t a runner.

Enough Said

Enough Said

One comments on “A Welcome “Nuisance”
  1. Thanks for sharing, Dan, and what a great story. Keep up the great work and inspiring others. Will keep you in our prayers as you continue in good health. Greg

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