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Real Stories...

My name is Craig

I'm 36 years old from Liverpool in the UK. I'm married to Kim and have two young children, David and Olivia. I love a good adventure, and in my spare time I like to climb mountains.

How did bladder cancer come into your life?

I first noticed something was wrong when, at the age of 34, I saw blood in my wee.

At first I was a bit shocked. The best way I can describe the blood is like weeing Ribena. I convinced myself it must have been the red cabbage I'd eaten at lunch that day. The next wee was back to normal so I didn't worry too much about it. Three weeks later the same thing happened again. I had drunk a red Oasis drink earlier in the day so it must have been that! I had no pain, so thought it couldn't have been anything serious and would sort itself out. Another three weeks passed and all was fine until I wee'd lots of thick blood. There was no mistaking it and I hadn't had anything red to eat or drink. This was when I really began to worry as I knew something was wrong and whatever it was seemed to be getting worse.

Rather than ignore it again, I decided to tell my wife and she made me get an appointment the same day with a doctor.

My urine test that day was clear, and didn't show any sign of blood despite weeing lots of it only a few hours earlier. My GP reassured me that it was likely to be nothing, but to be on the safe side, he referred me to hospital. Within a week, I had attended a Haematuria Clinic, where I had a blood test, X-ray, and ultrasound.

I got the results on the same day and, due to my ultrasound showing a mass, the doctor performed a flexible cystoscopy, with a camera is inserted into the bladder, to see what is going on. All the while they said it was probably nothing to worry about. At my age it was unlikely to be anything more serious and it would most likely be a bladder stone. A bladder stone is not too bad, I remember thinking. Even at this stage I didn't think I'd have cancer. However, I was terrified of the thought of camera being inserted into my urethra!

The cystoscopy was not as bad as I'd imagined. More of an uncomfortable feeling rather than any pain. It was during this procedure that the tumour was found inside my bladder.

When I heard the word cancer, I was shocked. My first thoughts were will I die? How long have I got? Will what little hair I have left fall out? How will I tell my family? I didn't really hear much of what else the doctor was saying after that.

One of the hardest things was telling my family. I didn't want them worrying about me, especially my parents. Also, I wasn't sure how I'd explain it to my then 6 and 3 year old children. During the drive home from the hospital, the song "I'm The Man", by Aloe Blacc, was playing on the radio and made me think that there was only one way to deal with my cancer and that was to face into the it and be strong. This song became a motivational song for me when I was feeling scared or low.

Another week passed before I had an operation, called a TURBT, to remove the cancer. I hope it doesn't come back.

What was the initial cancer diagnosis?

My initial diagnosis was non-invasive bladder cancer. Moderate grade TaG2.

What life changes have you made now you are affected by bladder cancer? 

My consultant advised me to eat a Mediterranean diet and get as fit as possible. I now eat more fish, chicken, salad and vegetables. In addition to eating healthily, I run 5k three times a week, cycle 30 miles twice a week and visit the gym in between!

What positives can you share about your experience?

I now eat more fish, chicken, salad and vegetables. In addition to eating healthily, I run 5k three times a week, cycle 30 miles twice a week and visit the gym in between!

Having bladder cancer made me realise what is important in life. I now have a much better work-life balance. I also now don't worry about things that, in the grand scheme of things, really aren't important.

How has Fight Bladder Cancer helped you?

Fight Bladder Cancer's Confidential Forum has helped immensely. I've made some great friends and it is a great place to ask questions, gain advice or even just to sound off in a safe environment. The website is a great source of information too.

What advice would you give someone who has just been diagnosed?

My advice to someone recently diagnosed is don't worry too much about things outside of your control. Focus on things within your control, look at fact rather than the unknown. Use the Confidential Forum when you need to, there are people on it who know exactly what you are going through. Try to avoid 'Dr Google'!

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