Helping my mom choose whether to do treatment for high-grade invasive bladder cancer, stage 3 or 4

rbush150 Member Posts: 6 Member
edited September 21 in Bladder Cancer #1

Hi everyone,

My mom was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive bladder cancer -- high grade, muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma with extensive squamous differentiation, and it has spread to at least one lymph node nearby so is stage 3 or 4. She is almost 78. She is otherwise in good health except for recently having a stroke (which is how we found out about the cancer, after taking her in for care after the stroke), and she also has a large kidney stone that would require another surgery on top of the cancer treatment.

We have been trying to convince her to do treatment, because there is a significant chance of success, and she could go on to live much longer rather than the current estimate of 6 months max if no treatment.

The treatment currently proposed is an aggressive course of chemo, then surgery to remove the kidney stone laparoscopically, then a radical cystectomy with incontinent diversion, as well as removing the ovaries, uterus, etc..

Overall, treatment would involve 3 months of procedures and recovery, and my mom is understandably very concerned about the challenges of treatment. We really want her to do treatment, and have been trying to convince her that life is worth living, that we can support her through it, etc., but also want to respect her ultimate right to choose whether to do treatment or not, as long as she really understands the pros and cons of both paths (she currently doesn't want to talk about it at all, which makes it extremely difficult)

For anyone who has experience going through these treatments, or has chosen not to do treatment, or has been caring for those who chose either path, do you have any suggestions on how to approach this choice and supporting my mom through it? I've read a little about various folks' experience on here, but if you have any experiences you can share or point me towards, I'd really appreciate it. If you did treatment, are you glad you did? Anything that helped you choose to do treatment? Anything that helped you get through chemo, surgeries, etc.?

I dealt with bladder cancer myself a few years ago, but it was much less advanced and I am doing okay now, fortunately. I would love to help my mom reach the same outcome, but am having a tough time getting through to her at all right now, so would love any ideas or suggestions you can share.

Peace and love,



  • rbush150
    rbush150 Member Posts: 6 Member

    I guess no one can muster even a tiny bit of support and encouragement. Oh well, I thought this network was to support people. Best of luck with your journeys regardless. -Ryan

  • barehead
    barehead Member Posts: 26 Member

    I was 67 when I was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer for the second time in my life. First I tried immunotherapy and it failed. Then it started climbing up to my kidney, and I had no time to waste, so had bladder removal. Upon final pathology, it had progressed, so I then had to do chemo. But 24 months later, I am still cancer free.

    When deciding on treatment options and such, I focused on the long game. That is, the course of treatment that would give me the best chance of survival. Why? Because I was not done. I had too many things to do with my wife, our kids, and our young grandkids. It was not an easy year, but I can look back and say I am glad that I did it. Our son just got married this past March, and I was there. We just went to Grandparents Day at our First Grader grandson's school. These are things that I would have missed.

    The procedures to treat your mom's cancer are pretty well known, and have pretty good results. I have a friend who was 82 when they had their bladder removed, and another who was 75. And they are able to do the things that they want to do: swim, walk, play tennis, ride bikes, etc.

    Ultimately, it is her decision. But she should talk to survivors before she makes up her mind. She can do so through the Survivor to Survivor program, or through

  • plaine
    plaine Member Posts: 1 *

    I have a good friend that had bladder cancer. She went through chemo and hated it, although she was cancer free afterwards. Docs expected tumors would return and eventually she'd need bladder removal. She refused additional treatment and went with a holistic approach that has resulted in 3+ years cancer free with none of the side effects of chemo. Unfortunately the remedy she used isn't on the market at this time - hopefully 1 day it is.