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In His Own Words: 4 Years Post Diagnosis of Stage 4 Bladder Cancer... and Bruce is Staying Determined

This is the second story in our series of true stories of cancer patients leading up to the Danville Relay for Life Event. I would like to introduce you Leonard "Bruce" Bogart

“Someone To Watch Over Me” was the title of a love song composed and written by George and Ira Gershwin in 1926 and made famous by the melodic voice of Ella Fitzgerald in 1950.

It tells the story of a woman who is lost but has hope that she will find someone who’ll watch over her. The someone in the song alludes to a man but for me, that someone is a belief, a trust, an understanding, a conviction that if you need help and have hope (faith) that there is in fact someone that will watch over you. 

That became crystal clear to me in February of 2008 when I was in the emergency room of the San Ramon Regional Medical Facility, nearly screaming in pain. My stomach bloated from a build up of fluid, unable to relieve myself. A male nurse came out into the waiting room, took one look at me, shuffled me into a storage room, whipped out a catheter and instantly solved my immediate problem. No tests, no consultations, no available beds in the emergency room, it didn’t matter; there was someone to watch over me.

With the initial problem solved and now in a private room, the nurse asked me if I knew of an urologist I could go to. I didn’t. I hadn’t been to a doctor in 20 years, no need, feel fine, no problems, why go to a doctor? He mentioned that an urologist was in the hospital that evening (it was now well past 9 p.m.) and he would page him to come have a look at me. Again, someone to watch over me.

In a few minutes, in comes the urologist. We talk, he looks concerned, I’m scared, and he checks me into the hospital that night.  I ask my wife to call the kids, one in Connecticut and one in Texas and ask them to come home, now. I have a very bad felling. They come the next day, tests are done and I’m released and wait for the results. I know it’s not going to be good. But I have a positive attitude and I vow that if the result is cancer, then am I am going to fight this disease and beat it. After all, I have someone to watch over me.

A few days later, we have a consultation with the urologist. It’s bladder cancer and it’s stage 4. The prognosis is not pretty. The urologist recommends an oncologist who suggests we start chemo immediately in hopes of isolating the cancer so that there will be a better chance of removing all of the cancer cells during surgery. Again, someone to watch over me.

Three months later the surgery takes place, it’s believed to be successful and after 6 more months of chemo, I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in.

It’s now 4 years post diagnosis; 3.5 years post surgery. The odds remain daunting: for stage 4 bladder cancer there is a 94 percent death rate in the first five years post diagnosis. But I look on the brighter side of life, there is a 6 percent survival rate and I am committed to be in that 6 percent club. After all, I have someone to watch over me. 

OK, that’s my story but why do I relay? During my fight with cancer, I realized that not only do you need a positive attitude and that special someone to watch over you; you also need to take responsibility for your own well being and that means being realistic about your health and staying informed. I was neither prior to my diagnosis but if I were, I think I would have significantly minimized the impact can has had on my life.

So this year, I am the Fight Back Committee Chair for the Danville Relay for Life. Our purpose is two-fold: (1) to raise money for the fight against cancer and (2) to provide information about this destructive disease. 

Come by the Fight Back tent and say hi (Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. at San Ramon Valley High School), check out the informative material or chat for a while. In any case, consider leaving the tent with a lighter wallet than when you walked in. Just kidding – or am I?

By Leonard "Bruce" Bogart

Read our first post of surviving cancer by Diana Ballinger .

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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