People say that I am a dynamo, with an energy that defies my 82 years. I just like to be busy and make a difference! Just over two years ago I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, a few months after retiring from a long career in business.
At first, I started seeing blood in my urine. I didn’t think too much of it and even told the GP, ‘I’ve got cystitis’. But the symptoms continued, and after three separate courses of antibiotics, there was no change. After weeks and weeks of coming and going from the GP I was finally referred to a consultant, but it was again a 6-week wait before I got an appointment. All of that waiting was exhausting. After an exploratory operation a stone was found in the bladder wall and later my consultant confirmed I had bladder cancer. The only realistic option was to have my bladder removed. By early May 2016 I was living with a stoma instead of a bladder.
My overall experience is that people just don’t seem to know about bladder cancer. Even in the main cancer hospitals there was no literature about bladder cancer. It’s like it’s a forgotten disease.
I was like nearly everyone else. I had never heard of bladder cancer. Women, in particular, are used to bladder infections and bleeding, so perhaps that masks the symptoms and makes it harder to diagnose. What people need to realise is that bladder cancer is not rare.
I’m now on 6 monthly checks and an annual scan. So far so good. I just feel lucky that I am one of the ones still here. That’s why I’ve got right behind Fight Bladder Cancer. I think Andrew is inspirational and that the small team of staff and volunteers are doing they do an amazing job with very few resources. I think that with an army of us patients behind them Fight Bladder Cancer will be able to raise awareness so more people know about the disease; and they will be able to make sure more patients and carers get the right help. I make a monthly donation to the charity and I volunteer as a bladder buddy and am often asked to speak to women who have been recently diagnosed to give advice and just chat. I’m also helping the charity develop their plans for a Scottish office for the charity one day, and I’m really really passionate about getting more politicians to understand the need for more funding for bladder cancer. I’ll definitely be making a noise in Scotland in May for Bladder Cancer Awareness Month!
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