May is Bladder Cancer Awareness month and we continue our personal insights with Martin’s story.
“Having been a very sound and deep sleeper my whole life, I started questioning something may be wrong when I began waking up two to three times a night to empty my bladder. This condition progressed on to seeing blood in my urine and carrying a stinging sensation. Although infrequent and usually in the morning, it was still a worry. I called my GP within 2/3 weeks, although I wasn’t that hopeful of securing an appointment due to the new constrains of Covid-19.
After a telephone consultation they told me that it was likely a UTI and put me on antibiotics and requested a urine sample. A different kind of antibiotic followed because after testing the urine they said I was on the wrong type. This information was all passed on to me by the receptionist. After discussing this with my wife she insisted that I persevere and call back asking for a GP appointment.
This took around one and a half weeks to get a GP to call back, who agreed that a referral to Aberdeen Hospital was the best solution and he had already made the referral. This took place 3 months after my initial concerns.
After having a cystoscopy, which only took around 10 minutes, I was told I had bladder cancer. I was given plenty of information surrounding the matter and given plenty material to take home to read about what would happen next
Treatment moved very swiftly and quickly, and I had my pre-operation check just 6 days later, followed by an appointment for my first operation 3 weeks later. I never expected things to move at the speed they did especially with Covid-19 playing a part on when and how we could now receive treatment.
At this point I was now feeling a bit numb, and the thought of an operation was quite dauting to someone who hadn’t even had a blood test before. I knew I had to have it done and kept myself busy at work to keep my mind off it.
At this stage it got more complicated because now it was time to tell my four children, whom had already had ten months of abnormalities due to the Covid-19 lockdown. I found speaking to people about my condition ok but definitely kept it to a need to know to begin with but trying to speak to my kids was totally different and I had to leave my wife to do the talking for me.
I had my operation and all went well, getting home two days later. I was feeling positive and in a hurry to get back to normal. I was only feeling slight discomfort for around a week after the operation. Results day came from the biopsy: of course, over the telephone. Another operation was on the cards the following month as they needed to check that they had taken enough tissue away from the bladder lining.
The second operation came around and, again, went well, and I was home within a day and not as uncomfortable as I had been with the first op. Results day came again: but this time I wasn’t ready to hear the results and they hit me quite hard. This was the point where nothing really went in. I had been diagnosed with high grade aggressive bladder cancer and now treatment was on a different level. I thought this treatment might happen to me, but way down the line. After a consultation with my consultant at the Ucan Care Centre on ward 209, being supported and advised on the options for my condition I had to decide if it was BCG treatment or removal of my bladder. I had to make the biggest discission of my life.
Trying to come to a decision seemed impossible to begin with, I changed my mind hourly let along daily. Finally, after long night talks with my wife, asking all my kids and speaking to a buddy that the Ucan centre put me in contact with, who had gone through the same experience as myself, I decided to have my bladder removed. Although a daunting prospect, it was the best option for me to become cancer free. None of this was easy but looking back as a family we did seem to deal with it well, and all I wanted was to be here for my wife and family and get it over with as quickly as possible and get life back to normal for all of us.
I can only say that on the morning of the operation if I could have run away, I probably would have. I was now in the great hands of Mr Dimitropoluos, with whom I had a great belief that he would do everything he could for me, even though I only had met him once. He seemed to give over a ray of confidence in his capabilities and what he could do to help me, which filled me with optimism.
After I woke up the next couple of days were quite unbearable and with no visitors it was harder to get your spirits lifted. I really thought life would never be the same again. But with chats on the phone with my wife and not being allowed to wallow in self-pity, I managed to get myself up and going again and got home within 5 days.
But as I sit here now writing this article one year on, still as positive as I was back at the very beginning of my journey, I am doing everything I used to do and I am as fit or even fitter than I was before I was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
I can’t stress enough how good the Ucan Centre on ward 209 and Mr Dimitropoluos were during my time of need. They are definitely worth their money in gold, and I thank them very much for helping me continue life’s journey.”