CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- James Harrah is a 17-year-old senior at Nitro High School. He lives with his mom and stepfather, who married June 15. Everything in their life had been going well, but at the beginning of June, his mom found out she had Stage 2 bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer forms in the tissues of the bladder. In Stage 2 bladder cancer, the cancer cells have rapidly reproduced to the muscles in the bladder wall but not to the fatty tissue surrounding the bladder. According to the National Cancer Institute, there have been an estimated 73,510 new cases of bladder cancer in 2012.
Cancer is not only hard on patients, but also everyone in their family. "I was petrified when I first found out she had cancer," Harrah recalled.
"We don't want pity for it, but I was scared and still am. I lost my dad when I was 2, so I can't lose my mom now."
In most cancer cases, chemotherapy is used. That is when medication is used to treat and destroy cancer cells or at least stop them from dividing and growing.
Harrah's mom went to the doctor in late June to get a port put in and begin chemotherapy. "They'll administer the chemotherapy through the port, and she will have 12 weeks of chemotherapy," Harrah explained.
"She will go two weeks for chemotherapy, stop one week to heal, and then go two weeks again. Once she completes the 12 weeks of chemotherapy, she will have one month to recuperate, then they'll do a major surgery to create a new bladder called a NeoBladder."
The Orthotopic NeoBladder is a substitute bladder that is placed in the same location as the old bladder. It is made from a segment of small intestine.
"It hurts me to know that she will endure a brutal 12 weeks of chemotherapy that she doesn't deserve," Harrah said. "I was hurt and scared by the news then, and I still am now.
"I know the future holds stress, courage and a lot of bonding," he continued. "I'll be starting my senior year, and while I'm at school, I'll have that constant worry about my mother. She will become weak and will be down for a while. She doesn't deserve it, and it'll be stressful to see her endure pain that she shouldn't have to.
"We don't want pity from people, but their support means everything to us," Harrah noted.
He also added, "Cherish the memories you have with people because you never know when it could be the last time you see them or they see you."No family expects to hear that a loved one has cancer. It is hard for all of us, but it passed through God's hands, and this is happening for a reason we have yet to know and understand."