“I’ve been a nurse for 32 years, so I knew when my provider ordered a CAT scan, cancer was a possibility, Tammy Coiner says. “Naturally, my mind started racing.”
The Fort Dodge resident first noticed blood in her urine she scheduled an appointment with her primary care provider, Megan Hopp, ARNP, for what she thought was a urinary tract infection (UTI). When urine tests came back negative for a UTI, Hopp recommended a CAT scan.
“I felt scared and alone. While waiting for my results, a radiology tech walked by and offered me a warm blanket, but I quickly said no. I didn’t want her to have to stop what she had been doing to help me. However, the radiology tech came back and wrapped a blanket around me. It felt like a warm hug and instantly made me feel better,” Coiner says.
The scan results identified the high likelihood of bladder cancer. Hopp immediately referred Coiner to UnityPoint Health Center for Urology for a scope to confirm whether the tumor was cancerous.
“The turnaround was quick. I had my CAT scan and the traveling urologist group made sure to fit me in their schedule the very next time they were in Fort Dodge, which happened to be the following Monday,” Coiner says.
Coiner and her husband arrived at her appointment with Dr. Eric Askeland prepared for the worst.
“At this point, I’d made the mistake of googling every possible outcome. It’s something I do not recommend doing if you’ve been diagnosed with a serious disease.”
Coiner says the actual scope ended up being no big deal.
“The nurse who prepared me for the scope was very professional, friendly and informative. I instantly had confidence in her, as she explained the procedure in detail and ensured me it wasn’t going to be as uncomfortable as I was anticipating,” Coiner reflects.
Coiner didn’t feel any discomfort during the scope, despite not receiving any numbing medication. The results, however, confirmed a cancerous tumor.
“I went in convinced it was cancer but the second I heard Dr. Askeland say the word ‘cancer’ I completely froze. I didn’t hear anything after the word cancer,” Coiner says.
While Coiner vividly remembers freezing, she also remembers the compassion from Dr. Askeland.
“He could tell I wasn’t comprehending anything, so he made sure to involve my husband in the conversation giving me time to digest the information he was sharing,” Coiner says.
Surgery was the first step. Dr. Mark Newton, who practices with Dr. Askeland, became Coiner’s primary urologist and performed the surgery to remove the tumor.
Coiner explains, “I was diagnosed with stage one bladder cancer after the tumor was removed and sent to pathology. The low severity was a best-case scenario. While in the operating room, surgeons injected a chemotherapy medicine into my bladder and then emptied it out when the process was over. No additional chemotherapy or surgeries were needed for this type of cancer.”
Or so she thought. During continued follow-up appointments, Dr. Newton and the urology team identified that Coiner had a negative reaction to the chemotherapy, leading to a second surgery.
“I was nervous going into my first surgery, but with my second I had all the confidence in Dr. Newton and his team. I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else,” Coiner said.
Thankfully, Coiner is now back on the road to recovery. She’ll continue to have routine follow-up appointments with Dr. Newton and Megan Hopp for the next two years to make sure the cancer doesn’t return.
Coiner says, “from the time I was diagnosed with cancer, to my way back to normal life; the entire group at UnityPoint Health has worked together as a team and made me feel safe and that they were going to take good care of me. I would 100 percent recommend my urologists to anyone. They go out of their way to let you know you matter.”
Learn more about our Urology team.