Sunday, 21 December 2014

MY BRUSH WITH BLADDER CANCER


Reading an article this morning in the British press about bladder cancer has prompted me to share my story of a health issue that happened to me earlier this year. As many of you know I was diagnosed with Diverticulitis last year. Diverticulitis is not a life threatening decease in short its series of polyps on the colon that get infected in some cases part of the colon is removed if the pain and infection is sever as happened with me. They removed 10cm from my colon and that was that it was amazing. After 4 months I went back to hospital for a full medical check up. I was feeling fine and no symptoms of pain etc in fact I never felt healthier. I had a series of tests to make sure all was okay since my opp. It was during an ultrasound check that the technician discovered a small spot on my bladder and informed me that it needed to be investigated. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I started to panic and the word cancer started to flash in front of my eyes.

Recovery: Model Patti Hansen, with husband Keith Richards, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2007


I immediately went to see my Urologist, who also did an ultrasound check and confirmed a tiny spot on the left hand side of my bladder. He proceeded to ask me a series of questions i.e did I have blood in my urine or any discomfort. Although I had none of these symptoms I was still terrified. Expecting him to put me on a series of medication he told me that I needed to be operated on to remove the spot and to find out what it was. I asked him did he think there was possibility of cancer and without hesitation he replied ‘YES!’ I almost collapsed there and then I could feel the blood rushing from my face. I was shaking like a leaf. He told me he wanted to do this as soon as possible and week later I was back in the same operating theatre that I was in a year earlier having my Diverticulitis operation. I stayed in hospital for two days after the opp and told that it would be approx 10 days before the Urologist would have a result of the biopsy.
Those ten days were the worst ten days of my life. I really thought this was it. I started researching every article I could find on Google re Bladder Cancer, not always a good idea all I succeeded in doing was making myself even more scared.
I hardly slept over those ten days it was simply agonising mental torture, going over and over in my mind trying to convince myself that everything would be alright after all it as such a small spot it just couldn't be cancer.

The most high-profile patient in recent years is Dame Mary Archer, 70, the wife of author and politician Jeffrey, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2010


Eventually the day came when I was ushered into my surgeon’s rooms. He greeted me with a big smile and as cheerful as ever, I thought that to be a positive sign. As sat facing him at his desk waiting for him to deliver the news he seemed to take an age on his computer looking up my diagnoses. Eventually I interrupted him trying to sound confident and slightly jovial I asked ‘Well, is it cancer?’ without looking up and continuing to study the report on the computer he answered in a matter of fact way ‘yes’ and that three letter word was all it took to destroy my world, my life there and then. I was imagining months in hospital having chemotherapy followed by hair and weight lost and then death!! My father died of cancer at the same age so this only confirmed my worst fears. But explained that I am at the T1 stage and it was such a small spot that has been removed that I should have no worries. I will need to come back once a week for six weeks to have what he called a small maintenance procedure that takes seconds and then every 3 months for a camera to have a look at the bladder to see if the spot has returned and after that twice a year then once a year. Boy, was I relived, no chemotherapy, no more stays or surgery in hospital. I still couldn’t believe I actually had cancer of the bladder no matter how small and knew nothing about it and probably wouldn’t have known until the cancer became a lot more aggressive and by that stage who knows what would happen as the survival rate for advanced cancer of the bladder is only 15%!

I remember coming out of the hospital clutching the report and phoning my son who would then let the rest of the family know the results. I started as usual feeling sorry for myself saying ‘Why me?’ he said: ‘Dad do you not realise how lucky you are? If you hadn’t had the Diverticulitis operation they would never have found that spot on your bladder, you had no symptoms of bladder problems and by the time you did have problems and had to see the doctor it could have been too late, so thank god that it was spotted in such and early stage.' He was, of course, 100% correct. I do thank god every day. I have now been back for 3 camera tests over the last nine months and there has been no sign of the spot returning.

Like most men, we don’t like going to the doctor no matter how ill we feel, we always fear the worst. But after this scare I advice you men to please get regular medical checkups and if they do find anything it is best that it should be found at an early stage rather than when it has progressed into something a lot more serious.

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