Living with cancer is never easy. But dealing with the physical effects
of bladder cancer and its treatment can be especially difficult. This is
particularly true if you have a stoma or urostomy bag. You may wonder
how the changes in your body will affect your normal activities, your
relationships and your sexuality.
It may help to know that having a stoma or urostomy bag doesn't mean you
can't be active or live a normal life. The bags are small, inconspicuous
under clothing and shouldn't leak. You can work, travel, exercise and
Even so, it may be difficult to come to terms psychologically with the
physical changes you've experienced. Although there are no easy answers
for coping with bladder cancer, the following suggestions may help:
Find ways to
make your life easier.
If you have problems with incontinence or need to change a urostomy
bag, try to sit in the back of a movie theater, concert hall or
meeting room. That way you're less conspicuous if you need to leave
for the bathroom. Sit in an aisle seat on an airplane or train.
Allow for breaks when planning long trips, seminars or excursions.
concerns with others.
When you feel ready, consider talking to someone you trust about
your concerns. This might be a friend, a family member, your doctor,
a social worker, a spiritual adviser or a counselor. You may also
find it helpful to talk to other people with bladder cancer. They
can tell you how they've coped with problems similar to the ones
One of the best
ways to do that is to join a support group for people with bladder
cancer. Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can
sometimes be a good resource for practical information about your
disease. You may also find strength and encouragement in being with
people who are facing the same challenges you are.
interested in learning more about support groups, talk to a doctor,
nurse, social worker or psychologist. They may be able to put you in
touch with a group in your area. Or check your local phone book,
library or cancer organization.
After deciding to
participate in a group, try it out a few times. If it doesn't seem
useful or comfortable, you don't have to continue.
Don't be afraid
Your natural reaction to changes in your body may be to avoid
intimacy. Although it may not be easy, it's vitally important to
discuss these feelings with your partner. You may also find it
helpful to talk to a therapist, either on your own or together.
Remember that you can express your sexuality in many ways. Touching,
holding, hugging and caressing may become far more important to you
and your partner. In fact, the closeness you develop may produce
greater sexual intimacy than you've ever had.
may be even harder to address if you're not currently in a committed
relationship. You may worry that no one will ever find you
attractive or desirable. In that case, the advice and understanding
of a medical social worker or other therapist who understands
bladder cancer can be a tremendous help. Your doctor may be able to
recommend a qualified counselor.
1 > 2
> 3 > 4 >