Bladder Cancer Support Group of Southern Nevada First Year History and Annual Report Summary

The idea of starting a Bladder Cancer Support Group was started by visiting the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) website and an online meeting with Teri and Don. Both were disappointed that there was no actual support group in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hence, Teri, Don, and Rosie met in October 2015 at Santa Fe Casino to see if an informal group could be started…perhaps just coffee a few times in the year. However, it was soon felt that this was just too inadequate in creating awareness and offering services to the Las Vegas community.

After further discussion, it was decided to see if Centennial Hospital might offer support. This hospital was selected since it was near the homes of Teri and Don. The staff immediately responded and kindly suggested Summerlin Hospital since they deal extensively with Bladder Cancer (BC) and other urinary issues. The Valley Health System agreed to be the sponsor at Summerlin Hospital. Near the end of 2015 we met with Ginger and Laura, nurse oncologists, who welcomed the idea of a BC support group while providing professional expertise. Ginger generously offered to be our nurse navigator and supporter of the emerging group.

In short, the Bladder Cancer Support Group was officially launched in January 2016.The staff, including the dedicated nurse navigator, Ginger Fidel, provided the resources plus the conference room to host the monthly Bladder Cancer Support Group. A web site was developed, www.bladdercancernv, to provide online resources plus exposure. Also, a monthly physical presentation was implemented to provide personal and group educational, informational, and emotional support. In 2016, the monthly number of attendees ranged from 8 to 27 members with an average attendance of 8 to 12 members. Our members included a couple from Pahrump and another from Boulder City.

To align with the national Bladder Cancer Awareness Month of May, the co-leaders and nurse navigator contacted a number of governmental and cancer related institutions to create greater Bladder Cancer awareness in the State of Nevada. The outcome included the Mayor’s Las Vegas proclamation recognition for the May Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in Las Vegas. To amplify awareness, education, information, and emotional encouragement, the support group reached out to develop ongoing relationships with the YMCA, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, University of Las Vegas School of Nursing, The Caring Place, and various health care specialists, such as oncologists, urologists, nurses, and physical therapists. Lastly, to maximize educational efforts the Bladder Cancer Support Group invited two speakers, Dr Verni , a urologist at Summerlin Hospital and Frank Sadowski, author of Back to Life: A Bladder Cancer Journey, to address the group. Dr. Verni gave a talk on the latest educational thinking on bladder cancer while Mr. Sadowski gave a talk on his neobladder surgery and lessons learned. Although the group is only a year in existence, the group is evolving and learning to be innovative in serving the greater Southern Nevada health needs in regard to bladder cancer support. Of course, none of this would have been achievable without the tremendous support of the entire Summerlin Hospital community. The members and collaborating organizations within the support group are forever grateful.