BCG – Bacillus Calmette-Guerin is a strain of the tuberculosis bacteria used as a vaccination against it. However it’s also used as an intravesical (administered in the bladder) treatment for bladder cancer. It’s heralded as the gold standard treatment on bladder cancer forums for non-muscle invasive bladder (NMIBC).
I’d almost had BCG in the past but it was decided that low grade didn’t warrant it. But carcinoma in situ (cis) does. Cis is high risk and even more likely to recur and progress.
My pathology report was shocking. I’d been so relieved to be over 2 years cancer free. NMIBC tends to recur though slightly less often after the 2 years mark. My first thoughts were all too familiar:
- What did I do wrong?
- What didn’t I do that I should have done?
- Was it all the stress in the summer? (with my husband’s bone marrow transplant)
Strong emotions were hot on the trail of the first thoughts.
Disappointment, sadness, worry, fear and even shame all rallied for attention.
A roller coaster.
The second wave of thoughts was less reactive, the cancer had been removed.
I’ve been recommended BCG and need 6 weeks between the operation and starting therapy so my bladder can heal. The induction phase is every week for six weeks and will start in 2 weeks thereafter maintenance from 1 to 3 years (3 monthly after a successful cystoscopy).
BCG is an immunotherapy as opposed to a chemotherapy. It works by stimulating the body’s own immune response to eradicate or prevent cancer. A fellow bladder cancer friend, heard it described as organic gardening because it encourages a healthy ecosystem in the bladder. Chemotherapy like Mitomycin is more like weedkiller in its approach. The organic garden metaphor appeals to me and helps me see BCG positively as the next step in my healing journey.