One day I noticed some blood in my urine. I postponed going to the doctor – I talked myself into it being an infection. I eventually saw sense and went to see my GP, who referred me to have an ultrasound scan.
An ultrasound and cystoscopy confirmed that I had bladder cancer. During the cystoscopy, the surgeon removed the tumour, which was contained in the lining of the bladder.
My urologist recommended that I have a course of BCG to prevent the cancer returning. Because the drug is inserted directly into the bladder, I didn’t have any unpleasant side effects, except embarrassment!
After BCG treatment, I had another cystoscopy. The cancer had come back, so it was removed again and I was given chemotherapy. Like the BCG, it was delivered directly into the bladder.
I then had a third cystoscopy. Unfortunately, it showed the chemotherapy hadn’t worked, so the urologist recommended that I have my bladder removed. He explained that this meant I would have a stoma.
After getting a second opinion and talking to a friend with a stoma, I decided to have the operation to remove my bladder.
During recovery in hospital, I had a catheter in the stoma to drain my urine. Before I went home, the catheter was removed and the nurse explained how to look after the stoma and use the urostomy bags.
Having a stoma and urostomy bag was difficult at first, but I got used to it after a few weeks. The stoma and bag really aren’t visible and I can do almost everything I did before the operation. I have been swimming and cycling and have travelled extensively.
When I speak to anyone in a similar situation, I always emphasise that there is life after having a stoma.
Prof Dickon Hayne, UWA Medical School, The University of Western Australia, and Head, Urology, South Metropolitan Health Service, WA; BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia; Dr Anne Capp, Senior Staff Specialist, Radiation Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Marc Diocera, Genitourinary Nurse Consultant, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Peter Heathcote, Senior Urologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and Adjunct Professor, Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre, QLD; Melissa Le Mesurier, Consumer; Dr James Lynam, Medical Oncologist Staff Specialist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and The University of Newcastle, NSW; John McDonald, Consumer; Michael Twycross, Consumer; Rosemary Watson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria.
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