Some Good Must Come of This

As I write this, I have just received word of Daveyo's status and am deeply moved. I am also catapulted into action with renewed vigor.

I spent the past three days at the Bladder Cancer Think Tank, about which you will see more in the next few days. I was humbled and honored to be one of four bladder cancer survivors in attendance as 100 of the thought leaders in bladder cancer convened for the fifth time in as many years to mobilize against our enemy. Surgeons, oncologists, scientists, industry, the NCI, and others were all in attendance. I wish every survivor could have the privilege of seeing the passion, dedication, caring, and commitment these men and women have for our cause. We are blessed with mighty allies who grow stronger and larger each day.

I was asked to prepare some remarks for the group. Below is the text of that speech.

I have not posted much in the past about my work to move our cause forward. I am the Bladder Cancer Patient Advocate (YOUR advocate) at the Southwest Oncology Group, one of the largest of the National Cancer Institute-supported cancer clinical trials cooperative groups. SWOG's primary mission is clinical research in the prevention and cure of cancer.

I also counsel patients one on one here and through other sources (like BCAN). I mention it now as it is relevant to what you are about to read.

Know that while our battle has not yet been won, we have more traction now than ever before, and we will not be defeated.

Good Evening.

My name is Rick Bangs, and I am a T2G3 Bladder Cancer Survivor sporting a 2006 model year neobladder. Some of you have worked with me at SWOG or the University of Michigan Bladder Cancer Support Group or BCAN, and at least one of you -- well, that I remember anyway -- has worked ON me, though at this point there have been so many hands in the cookie jar that I hope you will forgive me if I do not remember everyone by name.

Note to Dr. Montgomery and anyone else in the room who observed less than honorable conduct in Ward 5C -- we must make a pact that "what happens in Ann Arbor, STAYS in Ann Arbor."

That cancer is transformational is perhaps self-evident. One need not work in medicine to understand this fundamental and universal truth and how it applies not only to the patient, but to family and friends.

I remember talking to one of my friends from grad school after 25 years, and catching up on events in his life and in mine. He listened intently to the story of my Bladder Cancer Journey and then made this observation that I will now paraphrase: I would gladly give up the cancer, but not what it has taught me about Life and Living.

And in my case, I will add: nor many of the experiences that it has provided me.

My transformation started four years ago this very month when I noticed faint traces of blood in my urine. My journey, like 25% of my brethren, started with muscle-invasion or what I call the Fast Track. I quickly made decisions about where I would go, what I would do, and who would do it. I have no regrets about any of these decisions, and I received exceptional care.

I remember being in the waiting area outside the clinic, completing the myriad of forms that were provided. I was asked to participate in some studies being done on bladder cancer: quality of life with a neobladder versus an ileal conduit, and some tissue bank/genetic studies.

- Permission granted.
- Permission granted.
- Permission granted.

I did not think twice about participating; I would gladly have signed up for more. I vowed at that moment that "some good must come of this."

"Some good must come of this" has been my mantra, my North Star, since that time. And so I sought out the University of Michigan Bladder Cancer Support Group, not specifically because I needed support (though one can always use support and I have certainly benefited from it personally), but because I had navigated a treacherous path and wanted others to have a guide where I did not. Whether it is 2006 or 2010, the path for a bladder cancer survivor, particularly those of us T2 and higher, is scary and treacherous indeed and unfortunately not that much different from 2000 or 1995.

I also sought out experiences that would give me a better understanding of our battleground, and provide an opportunity to network with others -- all so that I might give back. I became aware of a BCAN-sponsored symposium in Cleveland, met Diane Quale, and found myself able to view one of the larger and more vexing challenges in the cancer community from a broader context.

Last fall, I was named the SWOG Bladder Cancer Patient Advocate and found incredibly rewarding work with some of the top talent doing battle against our common enemy. This and the one-on-one patient counseling that I routinely do have been some of the most rewarding work of my life.

I am every bit as thrilled to be here with each and every one of you, our best and brightest. The partnership we must forge must cross disciplines, experiences, institutions, and geographies. I am daunted by the task in front of us, but energized by the talent we have before us.

Our need . . . is clear. Our cause . . . is just. Our time . . . is now.

Rick B

Edited August 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm

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Dear Rick:

Thank you for all you do "in the fight against Bladder Cancer".
Each time we see you; (at the U of M Support Group.)..we admire you for all your efforts to help in the fight....You made us feel more comfortable about my impending RC when we finally met you( after speaking with you on the phone) in Nov,09 before my RC in Dec 09..

You give us all the encouragement and strength to carry on with the fight..

I hope to do more in the future to help our cause when I finally fully recover...

Thanks so much...for your friendship...and help..
Rich and Arlene

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In the spirit of Daveyo, yes, lets take the battle to our emeny. Lets renew our efforts. I believe we are approaching critical mass where BC will be discussed in public like breast cancer and the other "sociable" cancers and awareness and reaserach funding will follow.

Best wishes,
Battle on,

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Thank you!!

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Rick, Thank you for all you do for all of us. Our voices and our committment are building on the foundation John and Diane envisioned when they set out to make a difference for those of us who came after them. We are being heard now. The elephant is roaring. If we all speak up in our own areas, the task will be eased for all of us.
BCAN is the 'beacon' that lights our path. I'm encouraged every time one of our members determines to shine a light for others who are just learning of this disease.
Your light is shining brightly! Thank you.

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Wow Rick. I can't even begin to express how much your post just glows with your devotion and enthusiasm to make inroads in this fight against BC. I do know that I find your posts informative, full of interesting things, and addressing issues I had not thought to ask about. Thank you for your time, your dedication, and sharing your knowledge and research. I appreciate all you do.

Oh, I signed one of those papers too! Probably would have signed a dozen different ones if they would have given them to me! :-)


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Thank you for all of your time and effort. It really does make a difference.

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What you do is so important, and so appreciated. The speech was great. Thank you.

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very well-written and moving speech.

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Thank you Rick. Your dedication shines through and I sincerely appreciate all your efforts. I do look forward to hearing more about this summit. We here do need to know what is going on behind the scenes.

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Thanks Rick -


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Thank you for speaking up and speaking out!

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Thanks Rick, for your time, for your words, for your dedication - for all you do for the rest of us!

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Thanks Rick...............Ken

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You rock Rick! Thanks for all you do. -- Pat

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Invasive bladder cancer is taking my mom away from us. Bladder cancer took my dad away from us. They lived in Anne Arundel County, MD where there is a GI-Normus amount of cancers. I want to go after this beast. We all need to fight it. Make everyone aware of this ugly thing. Please keep doing all the great things you are doing.
It is a great gift you have!

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Rick, keep up the good work for all of us.
Nancy in VA

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I also believe that "some good has to come out of this". Loved the speach. Thank you

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Very well done Rick. Thanks for everything you do for all of us.

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Great Rick!

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Hi Rick,

Thanks for your dedication and hard work on the part of all with bladder cancer.


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