Adam Schaffer will never forget Thanksgiving Day 2007, when his then 6-year-old son accidentally kneed him in the groin during a playful bout of wrestling.
A few hours later, Schaffer’s stream of urine was the color of blood.
The next day, it was an even deeper red. Schaffer saw a urologist, who ran tests at a community hospital near Schaffer’s San Fernando Valley home.
The results confirmed that Schaffer had bladder cancer.
A surgical team removed a tumor hanging off a vein that had more than likely been ruptured at impact when Schaffer was wrestling with his son.
Following the surgery, Schaffer’s wife, Liz, asked the urologist if he had biopsied the muscle around the bladder to make sure the cancer hadn’t entered that area.
She knew that if it had, it could have led to the lymph nodes, which can act like a highway system in facilitating the spread of the cancer throughout the body.
The urologist responded that he had not.
The Schaffers sought a second opinion from Dr. Mark S. Litwin, professor and chair of UCLA Urology, who suggested a biopsy.
Sure enough, the cancer had invaded the muscle – and appeared to be very aggressive.
Dr. Litwin placed Schaffer on BCG, a vaccine-like drug designed to activate the immune system to kill any remaining bladder cancer cells.
Fortunately, the cancer had not yet spread. At 50, Adam Schaffer is five years cancer-free.
He is forever grateful that his son’s accidental knee to the groin alerted him to a cancer that might otherwise have spread silently – and for the second opinion he received at UCLA Urology.
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