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Walk For Bladder Cancer

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 5th, is the date for the 2nd annual Walk for Bladder Cancer nationwide. Once again bladder cancer survivor and CBS newsman, Bob Schieffer, will be the honorary chair. Newsman Schieffer’s openness about his disease has helped bladder cancer survivors all across the country recognize that they are not alone and has encouraged others to visit a doctor if they see symptoms. I’m not going to go into those symptoms here on my Puffman Blog, but I would certainly encourage any of you to contact me and I would be more than happy to share that information. I can speak from experience, and in my opinion, bladder cancer is one of the most insidious types of cancer out there.  Although with these first two walks,  there have been  none scheduled here in Montana, I feel that it is important that “the word” is slowly getting out. Contrary to opinion, it is NOT necessarily a disease affecting only older men. In fact, the mortality rate is much higher in middle aged women because they tend to be diagnosed later on when the disease is already in an advanced stage. I don’t have all the statistics in hand but I believe it to be the 4th most prevalent cancer, striking around 70,000 Americans yearly with almost 25% of those diagnosed facing some real medical challenges. I believe close to one third of those diagnosed will eventually lose their bladders, if not their lives. In my recent years dealing with bladder cancer, I’ve lost several good friends along the way, one very recently.  Bladder cancer is a much under-recognized and under-funded disease. I also understand bladder cancer to be the most expensive cancer to treat from time of diagnosis and on through life as the recurrence rate is alarmingly high.  As far as any type of medical progress, in my opinion and the opinion of many involved in research, there’s really been “nothing new under the sun” in the past 20 to 30 years. Bladder cancer researchers are way under-funded and I find that the medical community will readily admit that they don’t really know when it IS time to remove one’s bladder. Naturally no one wishes it done too soon, as their life will be altered in a major life changing way, but on the other hand, allowing one to “hold on”  or to keep  his or her bladder, often results with a cancer that has that has spread too far, too deep and has often metastasized to other organs. Former vice president Hubert Humphrey, actor Lawrence Olivier, and author Dominic Dunne, actor Ray Bolger from the Wizard of Oz, U.S. Senator John Kerry’s former wife and Frank Sinatra all come to mind as folks who have lost the fight. I encourage you to support tomorrow’s nationwide walk and for more information, contact me or the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN). Visit their website at www.bcan.org, info@bcan.org or call 888 901 BCAN. And the best to all those walking tomorrow.

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