Yoshiko Moody was concerned as soon as she spotted the tiny spots of blood in her urine.
The then 78-year-old, who lives with her daughter in South Jersey, thought perhaps it was a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Just to be safe, they went to have it checked out. And, as often happens, Yoshiko was diagnosed with the common infection and sent home with a prescription for an antibiotic.
Later that month, Yoshiko once again noticed some blood in her urine. That prompted an appointment with a urologist at Jefferson, where a scope revealed three lesions, including one that was advanced.
Yoshiko was diagnosed with invasive and locally advanced bladder cancer. Just a few days later, she had an appointment with a Jefferson oncologist.
Within a single week, she’d gone from thinking she had a recurrent UTI to a diagnosis of cancer that would require surgery. This can often be the case with women who are more likely to dismiss blood in the urine or hematuria.
“For men, this typically prompts a visit to a urologist,” says medical oncologist Jean Hoffman-Censits, MD, director of the Multidisciplinary Genitourinary Oncology Center of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. “But for women, many are initially treated for urinary tract infections, which can lead to delays in diagnosis of bladder cancer. For this and other likely biological reasons that we still do not understand, women with invasive bladder cancer tend to fare worse than men.”
While the treatment for locally advanced bladder cancer typically involves intravenous chemotherapy and surgery to remove the bladder, Yoshiko was enrolled in a chemotherapy clinical trial. As part of the trial, she underwent an accelerated program of standard chemotherapy over 28 days instead of the typical 12 to 14 weeks.
“It was very aggressive,” Yoshiko explains. “I wanted to eliminate it.”
Four weeks after her final chemotherapy treatment, Yoshiko had the surgery to remove her bladder.
Now, Yoshiko is 81 years old and cancer free. And, as she explains to her friends and pretty much everyone else, “No pain doesn’t mean you are not in danger.” So if you notice something out of the ordinary, it’s important to get it checked out.
That’s why Yoshiko supports the 2014 Walk for Bladder Cancer on May 3 to increase awareness of bladder cancer and raise funds for the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) education and research programs.
You can join one of the many walks taking place around the country, including right here in Center City, where the Phightin Philadelphians are rising to the challenge. We encourage you to join Team Jefferson or any of the other teams and BCAN walks around the region to support this important cause.