Bladder cancer survivors are urged to be patient when it comes to readjusting to life after cancer, as side effects of treatment can vary but often improve with time. Radiation treatments can result in blood in the urine or stools, and chemotherapy can yield numbness/tingling/pain in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy), hair loss, difficulty concentrating or fatigue. Survivors who had surgery may find it challenging adjusting to a bladder with reduced capacity or learning to care for and manage a reconstruction. Don’t try to do too much at once; instead, set small, short-term goals. Always discuss any health concerns and symptoms with your doctor.
Lifestyle changes may be in order. Because bladder cancer patients may have lower levels of selenium and vitamins A, C, and E, it is especially important to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables incorporating these and other vitamins. Drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water and other liquids day can keep survivors well hydrated and decrease the risk of urinary infection. Quit smoking if you still smoke. Exercise can help maintain or achieve a healthy weight and stave off depression. Try to avoid stress. Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol intake. Keep up with screenings for other cancers, like mammograms and colonoscopies.
The Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins has an extensive website devoted to bladder cancer. The Bladder Cancer Web Café features survival guides written by patients. The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network lists resources and support groups available to patients and survivors.