Most people do not realize that in the United States bladder cancer is the 5th. most prevalent cancer in both men and women. Based on rates from 2005-2007, 2.39% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of the urinary bladder at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 42 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of the urinary bladder during their lifetime. There are approximately 600,000 men and women today in the U.S. who are survivors of bladder cancer. The estimated new cases and deaths from bladder cancer in the United States in 2010 are: New cases: 70,530 and Deaths: 14,680.
Because there was little information available when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer, she has made it her mission to make a difference and change this.
“Since I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, I have interacted with many women and men who also had the same thing,” says Ramsey. The more I interact with people in all walks of life, the more I realize how little people know about this type of cancer.
Sixteen years ago, Ramsey experienced a life changing bladder infection. The blood that was noticed in her urine did not go away. The antibiotics did not solve the problem. Eventually she saw an urologist and underwent medical tests that showed she had bladder cancer, an invasive type that penetrated the muscle wall of her bladder. A surgery to remove her bladder included a radical hysterectomy, was followed by reconstruction to
rebuild a bladder using a section of her colon, and is referred to as an Indiana pouch. A section of her small intestine was used to connect to the umbilical site. It makes for an excellent cosmetic result and is easier to catheterize.
I have been very lucky, I have not experienced follow-up infections, but I was thrown into early menopause and body image concerns, says Ramsey. Writing has forced me to look as what is really important “Living life, not necessarily the weighty things that distract us.” Her writing became a way for her not only increase awareness of bladder cancer, but provides a way to raise funds to support the American Bladder Cancer Society of which she
Since she was diagnosed with bladder cancer, she has written three books: Pulse Points of a Woman’s World (a book of poetry), An Underground Jewell (an espionage novel set in the near future) and her most recent book, Merchild Land which is a picture book in full color. All of the monies earn from the sale of her books go to the American Bladder Cancer Society. Her latest goal is to raise at least $12,000 with her latest book.
Ramsey has become an avid speaker about importance of knowing the symptoms and risk factors for bladder cancer. Blood in the urine and urine frequency are symptoms that should not be ignored. Urologists have tests to pinpoint the cause of the symptoms. Bladder cancer has the highest recurrence rate of all cancers. Ramsey also says that individuals with a history smoking, exposure to chemical dyes, arsenic and other chemicals are all at risk for bladder cancer. Medical studies have shown that firefighters, hairstylists working with permanent dyes, leather and textiles workers are among the occupations linked to bladder cancer.
Even when the medical care is excellent, there are still emotional issues that bladder cancer patients experience that are not addressed. There are no local bladder cancer support groups. There are no marathons or large fundraising events to support this type of cancer. However, there is a place for patients, caregivers and family, the website: of the American Bladder Cancer Society where bladder cancer patients can share stories, chat and share, gather information and keep up with the latest research.