Education

Living Well After Bladder Cancer (Video)

As a registered nurse for more than 45 years, May Williamson took thousands of steps during her career retrieving and reviewing patients’ test results. But there’s one walk into work as an emergency room nurse at South Miami Hospital that she’ll never forget.

“I had a CT scan and thought I should go pick up the results on my way into work,” Ms. Williamson said. “I read the report, and it said ‘primary neoplasm.’ And that’s how I found out I had cancer.”


(The Baptist Health South Florida News Team hears from May Williamson, R.N., and the surgeon who cured her bladder cancer, Murugesan Manoharan, M.D., chief of urologic oncology surgery and director of robotic urologic surgery at Miami Cancer Institute. Video by Dylan Kyle)

When Ms. Williamson was diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer in 2008, the standard treatment at that time was invasive surgery to remove the diseased bladder. Leaving patients without a bladder meant patients would eventually need an ostomy, an exit point connected to bag to collect urine. This results in dramatic changes to lifestyle.

But thanks to Murugesan Manoharan, M.D., a urologic surgeon in Miami who was pioneering robot-assisted surgeries to treat bladder and prostate cancers, Ms. Williamson had a different outcome.

“We were able to remove her bladder completely and use her own intestines to create an artificial bladder,” said Murugesan Manoharan, M.D., chief of urologic oncology surgery and director of robotic urologic surgery at Miami Cancer Institute.

A prominent authority in the treatment of bladder and prostate cancers, Dr. Manoharan was one of the first urologists in the United States to perform this type of surgery, called a robotic radical cystectomy. Using a surgical robot to remove the bladder and create an artificial one allows the surgeon to use a less invasive approach. A few tiny incisions in the abdomen means less scarring, less blood loss and reduces the chance of tissue and nerve damage. Other benefits of robotic surgery include shorter hospital stays, reduced recovery time and better quality of life afterward.

After her surgery and about three months of recovery, Ms. Williamson was able to resume her life without the need for an ostomy. Now nearly 10-years cancer free, she spends her days enjoying retirement from her home in Palmetto Bay, Fla.

“I was so lucky,” she says. “Thanks to Dr. Manoharan, not only am I alive today, but I’m living a normal life.”

The Baptist Health News Team was there to capture Ms. Williamson’s most recent follow-up appointment with Dr. Manoharan. Watch the video now.

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