Our Stories

Why I Walk | by Bette Thom
I walk so no one touched by Bladder Cancer ever feels alone.

I walk so no one touched by Bladder Cancer ever feels alone. I remember the terror I felt when I was diagnosed. I didn't know anyone with this cancer and was convinced it was a death sentence. Family and friends were caring and supportive, but they didn't have intimate knowledge of this type of cancer. Although I had worked in health care for over 30 years, I still felt so isolated and uninformed. Fortunately, I happened upon the Bladder Cancer Canada website and the Discussion Forums. I felt so reassured to read how others were living well with this disease. People reached out to me with encouragement, answers and hope. Being armed with information was key to my coping.

I wanted to give back, so I got involved with the annual BCC Walk and helped start a local support group in my hometown of Edmonton. It was touching and uplifting at my initial Walk to watch people connect for the very first time with others who had bladder cancer. I also watched their family members benefit greatly from sharing experiences with others who had navigated that journey.

My hope is that because of the Walk, the public will finally take notice of bladder cancer so they can be better informed, which will lead to earlier diagnoses. Just as important, much that is raised helps fund critical research, which is so desperately needed for a cancer that ranks 20th in research funding of all cancers in Canada.

I walk in solidarity. Together we can make a difference.

Why I Walk | by Dr. Wassim Kassouf
I walk on behalf of all my patients and their families.

I attended the first Bladder Cancer Canada Walk in Montreal 4 years ago, and have continued to take part annually ever since. While I am not a patient, nor a family member of a patient inflicted with the disease, I am a urologic oncologist with a large part of my practice dedicated to the care of bladder cancer patients. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with patients encompassing the entire spectrum of the disease, ranging from those with symptoms suspicious for bladder cancer, to patients treated with intravesical therapy or radical cystectomy, to patients with metastatic disease receiving chemotherapy.

Throughout this journey, it’s surprising to me that I still encounter patients with blood in the urine who haven’t sought prompt medical attention, as well as patients who have been treated for several recurrent infections before eventually getting evaluated and diagnosed by a urologist.

I participate in the Walk to raise awareness of bladder cancer to both the general public and primary care health professionals, so they recognize the associated symptoms early on. It’s also my hope that the Walk will influence governmental bodies to increase research geared towards improving outcomes of patients with bladder cancer, a disease that is significantly underfunded compared with other cancers. I walk on behalf of all my patients and their families.

I’m a firm believer and strong supporter of the vision and mission of Bladder Cancer Canada, the only national organization geared towards helping patients and families affected by this disease. I urge everyone to come out and participate in the 2016 Walk. Together, we can make a difference!

Why I Walk | by Lisa Garland (Mom of Matteo)
Matteo wants to walk. He wants to scream “I did it! I beat cancer!” And I walk for him.

Why I walk is a question I’ve not really asked myself until now. In the beginning, I just wanted to get my son, Matteo, up and moving towards others like him, so he could see he is not alone.

Matteo was diagnosed with bladder cancer at 16 months old and admitted to Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario with acute kidney failure. His future was unknown. He endured surgery after surgery in his first two years of life, and it only got worse. After 1 1/2 years of treatment, the tumour had spread to his prostate.

Matteo was just four years old when we became involved in the BCC Walk in Ottawa and had just finished 3 1/2 years of harsh treatment that would have killed many adults. At first, he was indifferent to the people he met at the Walk, but when he saw others with urine bags and sparkles in their eyes, he knew he was among friends. He was no longer alone with this huge bag attached to his abdomen that covered his belly button and hung to his knees.

It’s hard to think about the pain he was in, the ache of being away from his siblings and the determination it took to walk and talk again. No bladder, no prostate, no puberty, and no kids – every aspect of life has changed. 46 blood transfusions, 24 platelets transfusions, 6 weeks of pelvic radiation, heart issues and life doses of chemo – have not even phased him.

Why walk for BCC? I walk to raise awareness and funds so no other has to endure the cards Matteo was dealt. Now at the amazing age of seven, and after three Walks, Matteo gets it…he gets all of it. He knows we are all walking for him and others just like him – for the ones we have lost and the thousands who will be diagnosed every year.

Matteo wants to walk. He wants to scream “I did it! I beat cancer!” And I walk for him.

Why I Walk | by Tanya Gracie
Although the fundraising aspect of the Walk is important, sharing your personal story may save someone's life. And that is priceless.

I am a mom, a wife, an entrepreneur – and a bladder cancer patient. Two years ago, I knew something just wasn’t right. After more than a dozen bladder infections, I sought the advice of my doctor. I was told that the spot on my bladder was cancer. It was one of those shocking moments that you can’t forget – but strangely, I find hard to remember. Since then, I’ve undergone six surgeries and 12 rounds of targeting chemotherapy.

Shortly after my diagnosis, I read a magazine article that included a patient story about bladder cancer. I became inspired and reached out to Bladder Cancer Canada to learn more and help in any way possible. I decided I wanted to lead the first BCC Walk in Cape Breton. I became passionate about helping as many people as I could by getting the word out about bladder cancer. But also, because I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in my 30s, I wanted to share my own story, since early detection is key to a positive outcome. 

Although the fundraising aspect of the Walk is important, sharing your personal story may save someone's life. And that is priceless.

The first annual Cape Breton Walk was a huge success. I was given a $5000 goal, but I was quickly overwhelmed with gratitude for the support I received. I was not shocked in the least though, as our community really comes together. In the end, we crushed our goal by raising close to $15,000 and had a huge turnout of people of all ages!

I’ve already started planning the next Walk. I know this year will be an even bigger success.