Bladder Cancer Survivor
Craig was in the life-saving business. For thirty years he was a firefighter and paramedic in Orlando. In 2015, a few years after he retired, he went in for a routine physical. Tests revealed blood in his urine. Soon after, he was sent to a urologist. After several more procedures, Craig was told he had bladder cancer.
Suddenly he had to think about his own life. “I knew it was going to be a detour…a big speed bump,” he recalls.
After receiving chemotherapy near his home, he was referred to Moffitt Cancer Center. His urologist, Dr. Gilbert, told Craig his bladder would need to be removed and replaced with a new system. Called a neobladder reconstruction, the surgery required doctors to use a segment of Craig’s small intestine to create a new bladder.
The surgery took almost nine hours and its complexity was compared to having an organ transplant. Without the nerve and muscle he had before, Craig had to “learn a new normal” for his body. Still, he was amazed by the skill of his Moffitt team and the care he received. “Just fantastic,” he says. “The whole experience was wonderful.”
A self-described type “adrenaline junkie,” Craig was motivated to get back to his favorite activities: hunting, fishing and enjoying nature. With two sons, a daughter and grandchildren who meant everything to him, he never wavered. And through it all, his wife Debra was at his side. “She was my rock,” he says. “Basically, my security blanket.”
Not surprisingly, Craig enthusiastically embraced a healthier lifestyle, quitting smoking cold turkey and changing his diet to include more fruits and vegetables. Reflecting on his family—and in particular his young grandchildren—he’s a huge advocate for making positive changes.
“I knew I needed to take better care of myself,” Craig says. “It’s worth every bit…just to be able to watch them grow up.”