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Confidence in Care

May 23, 2023

Sharon Cruise knew she was in good hands the moment she met Dr. Patel

Sharon Cruise was 72 when her fight against bladder cancer began.

I want to tell you the story of my fight against bladder cancer. In doing so, I want to share my appreciation and admiration for the health care workers who gave me such wonderful care at HSC Winnipeg.

My story doesn’t begin with a cancer diagnosis. It begins in 2020, when I was 72 and my doctor told me that I had a urinary tract infection (UTI).

I was prescribed two antibiotics to treat the UTI. The symptoms went away for a while but came back soon after. Over the next year and a half, I received the same prescription five more times to treat persistent UTIs.

After the sixth round of antibiotics failed, my doctor referred me to another specialist, Dr. Vanessa Poliquin, obstetrician, gynecologist, and reproductive infectious diseases specialist at HSC.

Dr. Vanessa Poliquin, obstetrician, gynecologist, and reproductive infectious diseases specialist at HSC Winnipeg. (Photo from the University of Manitoba)

She reviewed my test results and found the problem right away. All six infections were the same strain, and the antibiotics I took weren’t designed to treat it. Dr. Poliquin prescribed me penicillin, which resolved the infection in the first round of treatment.

After a while, I developed some bleeding that Dr. Poliquin was concerned about. She sent me for a cystoscopy (a procedure to look inside my bladder with a small camera) and scraping (a procedure where a sample is scraped off the bladder wall) to see if it was related to my UTI, but also to look for cancer cells. The test results came back, and the words no one wants to hear followed. I was in the early stages of bladder cancer.

A cystoscope (above) is equipped with a high-definition camera that allows doctors to look inside a patient’s bladder and urethra during surgery.

I had my first surgery with Dr. Premal Patel, a urologist at HSC, in July 2021.

I was scared—I didn’t know what to expect. When I met Dr. Patel, my fear disappeared. The moment he started speaking, I knew I was in good hands. He put me at ease instantly with his kind words and confidence.

He explained everything. Dr. Patel told me the worst thing I was going to feel was cold from the sterilizing solution for the equipment because they kept it refrigerated.

Dr. Premal Patel, urologist at HSC Winnipeg. (Photo from Men’s Health Clinic Manitoba)

The best part is that it was true. I didn’t feel anything except for the cold.

Watching the procedure on a screen was new for me, and Dr. Patel showed me what my bladder looked like compared to a healthy, pink bladder.

I learned that mine looked like a grey paint ball had exploded inside of me…and all the grey needed to go.

The surgery ended without issue, and Dr. Patel sent me home with a catheter.

I got a call later that I’d need to go to HSC for another surgery to get additional cancerous cells scraped. Dr. Patel performed the second surgery in August 2021, and instead of inserting a catheter again, which isn’t an enjoyable experience, Dr. Patel inserted chemo directly into my bladder.

Regular follow-ups have since shown I am clear of cancer cells. I have one final test this month and if my results are still clear, I will be officially cancer-free!

Looking back at my journey over the past few years, I know it doesn’t compare to others. So many people go through harder journeys, but I am just thankful that I had such wonderful experiences at HSC. Every person I saw went above and beyond to help me, and Dr. Patel was absolutely amazing.

It was because of the care I received that I decided to become a donor to the HSC Foundation and support their work, like the Operation Excellence campaign. I hope that by reading my story you can recognize the HSC Foundation’s commitment to providing better health care for all Manitobans and, through Operation Excellence, ensure that HSC is always equipped with the most advanced minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical technologies.

 

Sincerely,

Sharon Cruise

 

P.S. You can learn more about and support the transformational Operation Excellence campaign at operationexcellence.ca.

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