Blair Price is known for many things—he’s an avid walker, a computer enthusiast, a guitar player, and a voracious reader. Five years ago, Blair unexpectedly added a title no one ever wants to include in their list— “cancer patient.” In May of 2016, Blair was diagnosed with T-1 low-grade urothelial carcinoma (UC), more commonly known as bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in Canada, and it is estimated that 12,000 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.
Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) spoke with Blair Price about his inspiring story as a bladder cancer patient. Read about Blair’s journey below.
IMC: Can you share your story of having been diagnosed with bladder cancer?
Blair: In May of 2016, one day when I voided, I looked in the toilet and saw red. Having blood in your urine is not normal—it can indicate a number of things from an infection to cancer. I remember being incredibly concerned, so I phoned my family doctor right away. Fortunately, I was able to see a urologist the following week and was soon after diagnosed with T-1 low-grade urothelial carcinoma (UC), also known as bladder cancer.
My cancer began in 2016, and unfortunately last April it metastasised into my lungs—something that almost never occurs with non-invasive bladder cancer. I immediately went on a new immunotherapy treatment to try to help manage my tumours, and thankfully, I was shortly referred to one of the top bladder cancer specialists in Canada. I will now be going on a new chemotherapy treatment that has just been approved by Health Canada roughly a month ago.
IMC: How did you and your loved ones cope with the news of your diagnosis?
Blair: A cancer diagnosis places immense pressure not only on the individual who has received the diagnosis, but also on the loved ones of the person who has been diagnosed. My wife and I have been married for over 43 years and she alongside our son have given me incredible support each day for the last five years.
Several years ago, I also became a volunteer for Bladder Cancer Canada (BCC) as I thought it would be nice to give back and help other people with some of the things that I have been going through. The fear of the unknown is an awful feeling, and when you’re equipped with good knowledge and resources it’s a lot easier to feel like you have more control of your situation. My journey has been ongoing for the past five years, and I am proud to say that although it’s been a long and difficult journey, I have never let cancer be the sole definer of who I am. I really try to be a proactive person and live each day as best as I can.
IMC: How have breakthroughs and innovation in new treatments played a role in your journey?
Blair: In the last 30 years, treatments for bladder cancer have been almost non-existent—the only form of help was for those who had non-invasive bladder cancer (the form of cancer I was first diagnosed with five years ago), that treatment is known as BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin).
Fortunately, within the last year or two we have seen the development of new innovative immunotherapy and chemotherapy treatments that seem to be very effective for those living with bladder cancer. I have been fortunate to have had access to these new innovative treatments though my incredible oncologists. I don’t know where I would be without access to these treatments.
IMC: Hearing from you today has been incredibly inspiring, would you like to leave a final message with our readers?
Blair: Yes of course, I would say for people who are diagnosed with cancer, or more broadly any disease—it is very important to have a positive attitude and it is extremely valuable to have a good support system in place. The journey becomes so much easier when you have a good group of people who stand behind you—support from family, friends, and health experts makes the difference.
I would also say to everyone reading this interview that if you do see blood in your urine, please go get it checked out. There has been a backlog in cancer diagnoses due to COVID-19 and seeing red is something that is really critical to have checked out, pandemic or no pandemic.