Blue Light Saves Young Bladder Cancer Patient


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Nearly 80,000 new cases of bladder cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year. But when a young newlywed faced this disease, she had barely heard of it. Now, new technology is helping save lives.

It was a fairytale romance for Mary Beth Ballard and Chris Murray. But a year into the marriage the couple faced a nightmare, when Mary Beth noticed blood in her urine.

“For a few months it would come and go and I didn’t really know what was going on,” Ballard told Ivanhoe.

In 2014, Mary Beth was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

“I was 28 years old at the time. It’s very shocking and unexpected,” Ballard explained.

Kristen Scarpato, MD, an Assistant Professor of Urologic Surgery at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee says bladder cancer usually affects older patients.

“Typically men age 65 and older. And in fact, she’s one of the youngest patients we’ve ever treated here,” Dr. Scarpato stated. (Read Full Interview)

After her first cancer surgery, Mary Beth went to Vanderbilt University for a second opinion. That’s where they used Blue Light Cystoscopy with Cysview which uses fluorescent technology to make cancer cells light up, to check her bladder.

Dr. Scarpato explained, “It allows you to see lesions that are flat and not otherwise obvious more clearly.”

It turned out more than half of her bladder was covered in tumors.

“It was really tough.” Ballard said.

After another surgery and immunotherapy to target any remaining cancer cells, there’s great news!

“I’ve been cancer free for 2 ½ years,” Ballard explained.

And now more amazing news, the couple is expecting their first child. Chris says their difficult journey has taught them a very valuable lesson.

“Kind of showed us what’s important in life,” Murray said.

Mary Beth partnered with Vanderbilt University to start the first bladder cancer walk in Nashville. She also went to Capitol Hill to advocate for May to become Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. For more information about bladder cancer symptoms and treatment please visit

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Janna Ross, Field Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

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REPORT:       MB #4265

BACKGROUND: Bladder cancer is a rare form of cancer. Most bladder cancers start in the innermost lining of the bladder called the urothelium or transitional epithelium. Urothelial carcinoma is the most common form of bladder cancer. The cancer is divided into two subtypes, based on how they grow. The papillary carcinomas are slender and grow toward the center of the bladder. The second subtype is the flat carcinoma, which does not grow in the inner part of the bladder at all. Both subtypes can be non-invasive or invasive.  The risk factors of bladder cancer can be affiliated with smoking, aromatic amines, arsenic in drinking water, and lack of fluids. Bladder cancer mostly effects people who are older than the age of 55, and is much more common in men than women.


STANDARD TREATMENT:  Early treatments of bladder cancer require surgery to remove the tumor or small portions of the bladder affected. Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT) uses a small wire loop through a cystoscope and into the bladder to burn away cancer cells. This could lead to painful or bloody urinations after the procedure. Segmental cystectomy removes a part of the bladder and the tumor cells along with it, but is rarely used and is only done if a part of the bladder can be removed without harming daily functions. If the cancer becomes invasive, then surgery to remove the entire bladder is an option. With women, this results in the removal of the uterus, ovaries and part of the vagina. This surgery, otherwise known as radical cystectomy, can lead to infertility and pre-menopause.

(Source: )

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  Blue light cystoscopy, also known as Cysview®, is used to examine the bladder for the tumors (especially small or flat) as a result of the cancer. This technology can lead to fewer recurrences of bladder cancer, and can allow for better guidance and planning. The Cysview® is a solution left in the bladder an hour before surgery. Once the surgery begins, a scope is used to inspect the bladder with a white light first, and then a blue light to identify the cancer cells. Any abnormal areas are then biopsied.  This technology is geared towards a variety of patients, from first time bladder cancer patients seeking a biopsy to those with invasive bladder cancer.




Kristen Scarpato


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Kristen Scarpato, M.D.

Read the entire Q&A