Fight Bladder Cancer started from a very personal battle. Our co-founder Andrew was diagnosed with Stage 4 bladder cancer in June 2009. He had been experiencing symptoms for over 18 months but was misdiagnosed with an enlarged prostate. Faced with a poor prognosis and immediate life-changing surgery, Andrew and his wife T made contact with a fellow bladder cancer patient and his partner who had recently undergone the same treatment.
Just being able to talk to someone else who really understood what they were both going through helped them immensely. It was these snippets of real information that made a difference in those early days. Despite the fact that bladder cancer was so common, they were amazed to find out that most people knew nothing about it, and there wasn’t a dedicated bladder cancer patient charity in the UK.
Once Andrew was recovering from his surgery, they started the process of setting up what was to become Fight Bladder Cancer.
From its roots as a local bladder cancer support group in 2010, it soon became clear that the lack of available support for patients and their families was in fact a national problem, and needed to be tackled on a much wider scale. With a team of trustees on board, an online support forum for people the length and breadth of the country and a website were launched. These encouraged people to engage with others affected by bladder cancer honestly and openly.
Following the success of the national support group, Fight Bladder Cancer then started to focus campaigning for better bladder cancer awareness. Fight Bladder Cancer officially became registered as an unincorporated charity on 8 July 2014.
Building a team
In 2017, a new Board of Trustees was formed, chaired by bladder cancer patient John Hester. John was the Chair of Fight Bladder Cancer until he passed away suddenly at his home in Powys, Wales on February 11th, 2023. John was an invaluable board member, and we deeply appreciate the strong values he brought to the organisation. His legacy will be seen in our future work, and he will be deeply missed.
The Trustees work together to define the strategic vision for Fight Bladder Cancer and ensure it is fit for the future.
After 10 years of running the charity and being a voice for patients across Europe, in 2019 upon receiving a terminal bowel cancer diagnosis, Andrew encouraged his colleague and friend Dr Lydia Makaroff to apply for the role of Chief Executive.
At the time he said: "As I hand over the reins, I have great trust in the team I will leave to run the charity day-to-day. We want everyone affected by bladder cancer – patients, carers, family and friends – to have a place to come to for support, information and advice. They need to know that someone is speaking up for them when key decisions are made about policy, care, treatment and research."
Andrew died on the last day of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in 2019.
Lydia continues to manage and grow the team, with strategic guidance from the Board of Trustees - Deborah Major, Prof Alison Birtle, Hilary Baker, Dr Andrew Dearden, Valerie Hester, Dorothy Markham, Danielle Marr and Paul Michaels. They have worked to implement Andrew's vision and to fill the gap he and Tracy identified all those years ago so that bladder cancer patients and their families across the UK have a better experience and better outcomes.
Deborah Major is the current Chair of the Fight Bladder Cancer Trustees. Deborah Major was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012, and has been a Trustee and Vice-Chair of the charity since 2015. She is an active member of the private online Fight Bladder Cancer forum, has created amazing videos to share her reasons for supporting the charity, runs the Southampton bladder cancer support group, and organises the annual Bournemouth Bladder Cancer Wee Walk. She is also a lecturer at Brockenhurst College - nationally recognised for excellence and innovation in further education based in New Forest.
A future where everyone survives bladder cancer and lives long and well.
To lead the fight against bladder cancer, driven by patient and family insights.
Each year we support thousands of patients and their families through our helpline, support groups and website. Read more about our vision, mission and impact.
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We’ve tried to make the information on this site as accurate as possible. Whilst we have support from medical professionals to review the general medical content of this site, please remember that only your medical team can give you specific advice about your symptoms or illness. Fight Bladder Cancer is a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation in Scotland (SC051881), England and Wales (1198773), and was initially established as an unincorporated charity in England and Wales (1157763). It also operates in Northern Ireland.