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Troy Mikell

Bladder cancer - Stage IV

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for prevalent cancers we treat

Overview

My story

I was first diagnosed with cancer in May 2004. I went to see a local urologist and he found a tumor between my kidney and bladder. He diagnosed me with stage III transitional cell carcinoma (a type of bladder cancer) and recommended surgery to remove the tumor. I followed his advice, had surgery, and did not pursue any additional treatment.

Soon after the surgery, I started having pain in my left hip and leg. I kept going back to my doctor and he kept telling me that everything was fine. He told me that all of the cancer had been removed. However, the pain continued for a year and a half. It finally got so bad that I couldn’t sleep.

In January 2006, I learned the tumor had come back and the cancer had spread into my hip bone and abdomen. By that time, I had stage IV transitional cell carcinoma. It turns out the cancer had escaped into my bloodstream during the first surgery and proliferated during the 18 months since then. The cancer that was originally contained in a single small tumor had spread to multiple parts of my body. The pain I’d been feeling was the cancer in my left hip bone.

I had cancer all over the place and my doctor said it was inoperable. He told me to get my will in order. I was 34 years old.

My mom had seen a commercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). We went online on a Tuesday, spoke with someone that day, and by Friday, I had an appointment. I went to CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa in early February 2006, and by the following week I was starting treatment.

Unlike any of the doctors I’d seen before, my oncologist, Dr. Shrestha, talked with me as if she knew exactly how to treat this cancer. The type of cancer I had was extremely rare, so it was challenging for even the most experienced cancer doctors. Dr. Shrestha was professional and confident with me from the start. Never once did she tell me my cancer wasn’t treatable. At that time, I could hardly express how much I appreciated her approach, after so many doctors had told me to go home and prepare to die.

I had 35 radiation treatments over the next seven weeks, plus seven rounds of chemotherapy every Monday. My wife, Tami, traveled and stayed with me at the hospital for every treatment. I was able to schedule my radiation treatment for early in the morning on Wednesdays and later in the afternoon on Thursdays, so I could drive home for the night and see my kids, Christopher and Chelsi. The flexibility was wonderful. I also spent weekends at home, which allowed me to keep our kids’ home life as normal as possible.

During my time at the hospital, I worked closely with my nutritionist, naturopathic clinician and pain management specialist. My nutritionist helped me keep my weight up and monitored my blood work. If my counts were low, she would bring me protein shakes to keep me strong. My naturopathic clinician gave me supplements to support my immune system, like green tea and vitamin C. My pain management specialist, Dr. Axness, made sure my pain was taken care of as much as possible.

After the initial round of treatment, I took one month off. Then I had a final round of six, high-dose chemotherapy treatments, delivered every three weeks. Just before the last treatment, we took a PET scan and it showed that I was cancer-free. We went ahead and did the final treatment anyway, and I had no additional surgery.

I’ve been officially cancer-free since September 2006. Along the way, I had so many negative people telling me there was no hope. My local doctors told me I had one year to live and that there was nothing they could do for me. It was very hard to hear that, but here I am at 38 years old and I have my life.

Nowadays, I don’t get nearly as worked up about things as I used to. I look at life, my friends and especially my family so different after a diagnosis like mine. Being told I was going to die made me sit back and think about all of the things I hadn’t done, especially with my kids. I still work and have a busy life most of the time, but I also stop and spend more time with my kids. I’m trying to stay active and eat better, too.

Without my wife, I couldn’t have made it. She was there for every doctor’s visit and every treatment. We own a freight brokerage business and she had to handle the bulk of that, as well as raise our two kids while I was sick. It’s amazing what she was able to accomplish. I feel like a lucky man to have her every day.

I still return to CTCA at Southwestern every three months for a PET scan and things remain clear. Dr. Shrestha tells me to go home and enjoy my life. It made a big difference for me to have a doctor who was positive and focused on options. The doctors at CTCA said it straight from the start: We don’t have a magic pill to make your cancer go away, but we do have treatments and clinicians to help extend your life and give you a chance. And hands-down, it was the best treatment for me.

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