A visit to the urologist helped one woman heal her bladder. It also helped her quit smoking.

Sherri Elliott, Bowdon, N.D., visited her primary care physician in February 2018 when she noticed blood in her urine. An ultrasound indicated a mass in her bladder. Her PCP, Brad Hoff, PA-C, referred her to Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

That’s where Elliott met Dr. Robert J. Bates.


Harvard-trained Urologist Dr. Bates joined JRMC in 2015. He has decades of below-the-belt experience, helping people with conditions of the bladder, kidney, prostate and reproductive organs.

“He’s friendly, kind and made me feel right at home,” Elliott said, saying Registered Nurse MeLisa Roaldson did the same.

Dr. Bates diagnosed Elliott with malignant neoplasm of the urinary bladder.

Bladder cancer is not as common as many other well-known tumors but, like many cancers, is directly related to smoking and obesity

For Elliott, that meant surgery to remove two tumors – one a couple of centimeters and one the size of a golf ball. Following the surgery, Dr. Bates recommended six weeks of immunotherapy treatment. The treatment required a 70-mile trip to Jamestown where a drug, called BCG, was instilled into the bladder for a few hours.

Though she and her fiancé, Ken Bay, have lived in Bowdon for 16 years, Elliott is originally from out-of-state. Enduring a cancer diagnosis and treatment without family nearby can be a challenge.

“MeLisa made me feel like I had family. She was there for every one of my treatment,” Elliott said.

The immunotherapy treatments are designed to help prevent the return of cancer, however, Dr. Bates cares for people holistically. Before the first treatment, he adhered a nicotine patch to her shoulder. With a pat of his hand, he said “And we’re done smoking now, OK?”

“I seriously don’t think I would have ever quit smoking if it wasn’t for Dr. Bates putting that patch on me, patting me on the arm and with that kind voice, telling me I was done with cigarettes,” Elliott said.

A year and a half later, Elliott is still smoke-free. And on Nov. 8, 2019, she celebrated a full year of being cancer-free too.

“You can fully trust Dr. Bates. He has knowledge. He has a great bedside manner and experience. He’s got a kind soul, and I like that,” she said.

“Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician and one of the four founding professors of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, once said ‘A good physician treats the disease, a great physician treats the patient who has the disease’. This is the approach we strive to follow every day in the JRMC Urology Clinic,” said Dr. Bates.

Today, Elliott is back to work at the community café in Bowdon, N.D. She’s also planning a trip to Iowa to see family for the holidays.

“Cancer changed my perspective on life. I make more trips to see family, that’s for sure,” she said.

To learn more about JRMC Urology, call (701) 952-4878.


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