Mary Soto, bladder cancer survivor

“At City of Hope, everyone we met with and spoke with, from the clerks to the nurses to my doctors, was welcoming and reassuring, and we knew we had made the right decision.”

Mary Soto was looking forward to her trip to Maui, where she would celebrate her 60th birthday with her daughter. But suddenly the problem that she had been dealing with on and off for the past few months – a bit of blood in her urine – returned full force. This time, though, instead of just a tinge of color, the water in the toilet was bright red.
 
“This problem had started back in June of 2013 when every now and again my urine had a pinkish color,” Soto said. “But there was no pain and so, when it went away on its own, I ignored it.”
 
A slight recurrence a few months later led to a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection. After treatment for the UTI, everything went back to normal. But with this latest incident, which occurred just before Thanksgiving, Soto knew something was very wrong.
 
A visit with a urologist revealed that Soto had a sizable tumor in her bladder. A biopsy performed a few weeks later confirmed her fears – she had bladder cancer.
 
“I had been a smoker for many years and smoking is one of the risk factors for bladder cancer,” Soto said. “I quit that night.”
 
Soto’s bladder cancer was Stage 2, which means the tumor had invaded the muscle layer of the bladder wall. Treatment would include chemotherapy and cystectomy, which is the surgical removal of the bladder. After a visit with a surgeon who was so cold and brusque that
 
Soto left his office in tears, she and her husband, Lou, turned to City of Hope.
 
“It was like night and day,” Soto said. “At City of Hope, everyone we met with and spoke with, from the clerks to the nurses to my doctors, was welcoming and reassuring, and we knew we had made the right decision.”
 
Soto said her surgeon was careful to explain everything. He went over the details of the surgery, outlined the specifics of the recovery process and offered information about possible complications. It was a radically different experience from the first surgeon she saw.
 
Three years later and Soto is cancer free.
 
“It has been three years now and although the surgery and recovery were hard, we got through it,” Soto said. “Now I work out, I go to gym and I can go swimming.”
 
She is back to leading a vibrant and active life that she and her husband refer to as “the new normal.”