This is BCA and each week during May we will bring you a patient story telling about their cancer journey, to start off we have some information from Kostas Dimitropoulos, Consultant Urological Surgeon and UCAN Board member and Anne’s story.
Explaining the importance of the initiative, Consultant Urological Surgeon Kostas Dimitropoulos commented, “Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lining of the urinary bladder. Every day in the UK, almost 30 patients receive a diagnosis of bladder cancer.
“Although not many people have heard of bladder cancer, it is one of the ten most common cancers in the UK, accounting for 3% of all new cancer cases. Bladder cancer has the highest recurrence rate of any known cancer. It is also a very serious cancer and 10-year survival rate is a bit less than 50%. Moreover, it very expensive; bladder cancer costs to the NHS £65million every year. It can affect anyone, regardless of sex and age, although it is usually more common in older men. Main risk factors are smoking and exposure to certain chemicals (now banned) at work. Despite all this, bladder cancer only gets 1% of cancer research funding.”
One survivor of the cancer is Anne from Aberdeen, who urges anyone who has symptoms to get them checked immediately. “Firstly, believe in your instincts and listen to your body. My journey began with blood in my urine. As I am in my 50’s, my GP placed me in a statistic as a woman I had a urine infection. I did not believe their diagnosis, but it took me many months to get them to listen to me, but I fought long and hard and went right to the top to get the outcome I sadly received.
“I questioned everything and when told I had one tumour decided myself to get an independent opinion which resulted in two. I then refused the surgery until the MRI scan was received, the surgery resulted in two tumours being removed and not one. Mentally my first surgery devastated me, and I initially shut myself off in hospital and spoke to no one. A nurse later asked me why I did this, my answer, I was angry no one would listen and now required to go through chemo and the removal of my bladder as cancer had gone through the bladder wall.
“The best decision I ever made regarding surgery was firstly my wonderful positive surgeon, then a stoma bag and not a neobladder, it is easy to use, replaced every two days, completely taken away a reoccurrence of bladder cancer. After robotic surgery I was up and talking to everyone in my ward the next day. Post-surgery the support mechanism of the stoma department and UCAN has been tremendous.
“A very important fact to recognise is that your friends and family are scared too, take time to talk and most of all – be good to yourself!”