September 24-30 is Urology Awareness Week. Organised by The Urology Foundation, this month aims to raise awareness of urological disease as well as raise money so they can fund vital research and training into these diseases.
It is estimated that 1 in 2 of us will be affected by a urology condition in our lifetime. Our urology health is vital to our quality of life. But diseases and cancers of the kidneys, bladder, prostate and the male reproductive system are becoming more prevalent and devastating the lives of millions of men, women and children in the UK.
One of our cancer patients really wanted us to share his story about his bladder cancer, how he found out he had it, how he coped through the procedures he had to endure, and how he's now doing sponsored walks to help others.
The road to hell and back
By C J Arnill
It all started in Spring 2016; that's when I stopped working. I came home from work after my night shift ready for bed. l had a wee and to my horror my urine was red. I realised this was bad, so I went to the doctor for the usual procedure and tests. I was given antibiotics, but a week or two later fast tracked to Hinchingbrooke Hospital for a look inside my bladder and at the end of that procedure I was told that I had cancer.
My world just stopped, turned upside down and inside out. The next meeting after that was with the oncology team and the diagnosis was muscle invasive bladder cancer (pT2 G3) and urothelial carcinoma in situ. The rocky road of biopsies was not fun at all.
Blood test, X rays, CT scans, MRI scans. I just went with the flow of procedures as you do follow the rules in this situation. My advice is really important here: make sure you take someone with you.
The results lead to the dreaded chemotherapy. Yeah, it's horrid, nasty and I hated it but had to do it as there was no other option. 12 horrible nasty weeks of it.
I met with the very nice Dr Alex Martin to set up my chemo plan. I gave up smoking and started chemo on the same day. I was at the Woodlands Centre at Hinchingbrooke; all the staff were wonderful, amazing and caring. They really look after you and work so hard.
I thought the first session went ok; little did I realise! I got home and went straight to bed, hiding away. It gets worse as you go along and I hid away after each session as it knocks the stuffing out of you for at least a week, feeling ill and tired, hardly wanting to eat and drink but of course I had to. I had to try and get up and walk about the house and garden for exercise. Everything was hard to do until I got my ‘up’ period and it felt so good before the next session comes and ‘down’ you go again.
I hated my family and friends seeing me in such pain, having ups and downs, getting depressed and feeling awful. Community Cancer Nurses connected to the Woodlands come out to check on you; they also help with lots of different things like form filling, counselling, and support. My community nurses were such lovely ladies.
So to all the staff at the Woodlands and the community nurses, a BIG thank you for your help and support.
After chemo was done and I was feeling better it was time to move from Hinchingbrooke to Addenbrookes hospital and I met the new oncology team. I had no options but to have major surgery, which was difficult. I was scared and angry and I cried some days; I was fed up and I just wanted to go home. I was in for 10 days, but I did make friends during that time. My stoma nurse was wonderful and very helpful.
There were good days and bad days, aches and pains, district nurses, doctors appointments, hospital appointments, stoma nurses and there is a lot to learn along the way. Eventually I was able to go out in the garden and then further afield. I have had counselling which I didn't think would help, but it did and I am glad I did it. There was so much support available - I did meditation, chair yoga, support groups and online support groups, and I keep myself busy now volunteering at our local church and caring for my neighbours.
It has taken me along time to find my new normal but I am there now and happy as I can be and I am glad to be alive. As a man, it is a big issue for us guys mentally, emotionally and physically. Everyone is different and will have their own issues and decisions to make and overcome, but I want to tell everyone in a similar situation, “You can do it, you can fight it and you can beat it......I beat it!”
I did my first 10k sponsored walk around Grafham Water with my sister and I raised £640.00 which will be split between the Lions Club and my local support group which is St Neots Acorn Cancer Support Group. It felt good to do it and to help others. I am so proud of myself, and I will be doing it again. Many thanks to everyone for their support.
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