For Bonnie Krisak, getting through each day was a struggle.
“Mentally it wears a lot on you, more than you think about,” said Krisak. “Physically, just the pain is very, very uncomfortable.”
She’s a teacher, but her health kept interrupting her lesson plans.
“I couldn’t leave my classroom very often to use the bathroom and one of the things with bladder cancer is you’re constantly having a sense of urgency and a stinging sensation,” said Krisak.
After numerous doctor visits, Bonnie was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Her quest for treatment led her to Upstate Medical where new technology was being used called Blue Light Cystoscopy.
Doctors inject a fluorescing agent, basically a dye, into the bladder where cancer tumors absorb the dye. Then with a scope, urologists like Dr. Joseph Jacobs search the bladder for tumors.
“All it is a push of a button with this technology and you switch to a blue light as you can see and these tumors light up bright pink. They’re obvious,” said Jacob.
From there, doctors are then able to remove the tumor.
“Sometimes you can miss edges of tumors, so you switch back to the blue light and you make sure that you catch the whole tumor,” said Upstate Department of Urology Chair Dr. Gennady Bratslavsky.
“Some bladder cancers may be quite innocent and will not necessarily kill the patient while others, if missed, will progress and spread to other parts of the body,” said Jacob.
About 70,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year in the United States. It’s most common in men. It’s particularly hard to diagnose in women.
“In women, unfortunately, bladder cancer is more aggressive because I think most people just assume that it’s a UTI,” said Bratslavsky.
Luckily, not for Bonnie-who today is feeling relief.
“I always looked exhausted and tired, no energy,” said Krisak. “I feel a lot better like I’m back to my old self again.”