I’m 60 years old and work part-time as an LSA (Learning Support Assistant) at Brockenhurst College supporting students with learning differences. I assist tutors in Maths, English and the enterprise scheme of running a café. I also take on the role of job coaching students in my skills areas of cooking (producing cakes for the enterprise) and digital photography. I am married to Deborah who is a tutor in the same department at college. We were at junior school together but lost contact when we ventured off to separate secondary schools. We re-met in 2001 and married in 2011. I enjoy shopping, listening to music, cooking, photography and, as frustrating as it is, learning to play the guitar.
I had never heard of bladder cancer but it came into my life when Deb was diagnosed in January 2012, she had been suffering with UTIs for many years, but it was late December 2011 that Deb found blood in her urine. She visited our GP and was referred to a specialist, whereupon the devastating news was given to us that it was bladder cancer.
Here we were, recently reunited, recently married, happy, very much in love, making up for time we’d lost and looking forward to our future together. The news hit us like a freight train. What were we to do? Where would we go for help? I’d had testicular cancer around 15 years earlier. That was a shock, but it was quickly dealt with the removal of a testicle, 6 week's intensive radiotherapy and regular check-ups – I was fixed. Searching the internet for bladder cancer ‘cures’ proved both troublesome and very frightening. We both initially found living with the constant reminder of this dreadful disease depressing. What did our future hold?
It was a low-risk non-muscle invasive tumour pTa G2. Unfortunately, after the tumour removal, the cancer returned 6 months later as CIS G3. Deb was given BCG treatment for 2 years whilst it was available. She is currently being monitored on a schedule provided by the consultant.
Following Deb’s diagnosis, treatment and repeat ‘all clears’ I have desperately tried to put the cancer to the back of my mind. It is an extremely difficult thing to do, and I’m failing to achieve it. I am constantly thinking of it and live in fear that it is likely to recur. I’m always asking Deb if she is ok … she knows what I’m really asking about. I watch her like a mother watching over her offspring.
I read posts on the Fight Bladder Cancer support page, not just those of sufferers, but those of the carers. I’m continually learning more about how to support Deb and how to offer advice and support to others on the site. I have become more sympathetic and acutely aware of those who are suffering, not necessarily with bladder cancer but other ailments and life differences. Before the diagnosis of bladder cancer Deb and I were close, very close. Now we are so close we are one.
After suffering testicular cancer some 18 years ago I learned to look at life in a positive manner. I find I treat life with a lot more fun and live each day as a new adventure. I have tried my best to give all the support to Deb I can. I listen to her concerns and always offer a shoulder to lean on. I believe that she has now taken a more positive attitude and lives life fully.
Fight Bladder Cancer has been incredibly helpful and supportive. It has helped me to learn that this disease can be beaten if it is diagnosed early enough. There is a wealth of information, advice, and guidance and I’ve found that the support and camaraderie within the group is second to none. This applies to sufferers and carers alike.
My advice to a carer/partner would of course be; to be as supportive and understanding of the sufferer and to join the Fight Bladder Cancer Confidential Forum, read up on the information available, ask other carers/partners questions, and use their experiences to help understand what can happen.
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