Issue No. 10
Four-Time SurvivorDate: October 20, 2010
Steve Winick’s hard-earned wisdom on beating cancer inspires others
Dealing with cancer is a scary roller-coaster ride, especially when you look over the edge. But I’m living proof that it can come to an end. Four months after bladder surgery, I was back to motorcycling with friends. That’s the message I have as a mentor at Johns Hopkins for newly diagnosed cancer patients: There is life after cancer.
I had to deal with it four times. It was my urologist who gave me the diagnosis of noninvasive bladder cancer, which is slow-growing but tenacious. The first two times the tumor was removed, it came right back. After the third time, plus six months of chemotherapy and radiation, my CT scans were clear for 31/2 years and I thought I’d beaten it. But then it came back again on New Year’s Eve in 2002.
I needed to have my bladder removed, my doctor told me, because if the tumor escaped my bladder wall I’d be dead. He referred me to Mark Schoenberg, M.D., head of urologic oncology at Johns Hopkins, who was doing six of the surgeries every week. He’s one of the best in his field. I’ve been cancer-free ever since and there’s nothing I can’t do now that I could do before. I’m 63 and I’m back to motorcycle trips and remodeling my house.
As a volunteer mentor, I tell patients and their families what to expect. Family members can be more shaken up than patients, which was true for my wife and kids. I stay away from giving medical advice. As Dr. Schoenberg told me, “I can tell patients all about the surgery and recovery, but I can’t tell them what it feels like.” I think it eases their anxiety just seeing that I’m healthy after all I went through.
- The only symptom that prompted Steve Winick to seek a diagnosis was blood in his urine, which is the most common first symptom of urinary bladder cancer.
- His three encounters with noninvasive urothelial carcinoma, the most common form of bladder cancer, required tumor removal through a urethral tube. The final recurrence was muscle-invasive, requiring a radical cystectomy to surgically remove his bladder.
- Winick is a Caucasian man, the highest bladder-cancer risk group, but at age 50 when he was first diagnosed, he was far younger than the average age of 73.
In His Own Words
Watch a video featuring Steve Winick telling his story at hopkinsmedicine.org/mystory. For more information about bladder cancer, visit urology.jhu.edu/bladder. For appointments and consultations, call 877-546-1872.