My Name is Ros Bruce
And at the time I was 42, living with my partner and 3 children aged 6, 15 and 17. It was the summer of 2010, and I had urgency, though a UTI and having to drink more. The weeks went on and I remember going for a wee at a friend’s house and thinking to myself ah that smell is here too but didn’t give it much more thought.
Eventually unknown to me, once I’d been for a wee the smell was becoming stronger I must have been used to it now, but my partner then urged me to go to the doctor.
I’m not one for going to doctor and put it off. Anyway, one day in October I wet myself 3 times and so made an appointment with the doctor, yeah it’s a UTI so I left with antibiotics and my urine sample was sent away for testing. This was Tuesday and by Friday I was still no better, going for a pee every 5 mins. I phoned the Doctor for results… no infection, so antibiotics won’t work. Was told to come back next week for more tests… next week!!! I’m going to be lucky to get through the weekend…
Next 6 weeks are visits to doctor twice a week… urgency and smell getting worse, tests were STD and smear, all came back clear as did urine. I was beginning to think it was in my head. Eventually they sent me for a scan, thinking I had kidney stones.
November 30th 2010, worst winter with snow, we set off for scan, no way could I drink water until I got there. Scan time arrives, kidneys fine but bladder not full, lol I go empty bladder and come back. He says I can see the problem your bladder is not emptying properly, I could have told him that myself! Never mind, I leave thinking at least it’s not all been in my mind and should be an easy problem to fix.
That afternoon my Doctor phoned me telling me they had found a growth in my bladder and that it probably was cancer and I was in the “2 week urgent referral” to urology at hospital, what a shock!!! I’d never considered it to be cancer, never heard of bladder cancer.
That afternoon my life ended.
I start searching internet, continuously. I need to know everything there is. I soon find out that waiting and counting down days to appointment takes over my life. Why me, is the only thing on your mind, I even planned my funeral.
December 21st 2010 I go into hospital for them to look in my bladder, as I came too I was told yes it is bladder cancer and bladder will probably have to come out, before I get home I need a CT scan. What’s that for I ask? Answer, was to check if it’s spread. Evening of 23rd December 2010 I get home, needless to say, worst Christmas ever, spent whole time worrying with every pain, even a pain in my big toe, thought it had spread, also would this be my last Christmas?
School’s went back and hospital appointment arrived January 11th 2011. I met my urology consultant, by now, I knew everything there was to know, so knew the options. He told me I had a rare cancer and the only option was to remove it, best option was a stoma and urostomy. By now I didn’t care if I never went for a pee again.
February 2nd 2011 surgery to remove bladder was 10 hours. I also had a hysterectomy too. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Remember, before op there wasn’t that much wrong with me. My recovery from op was tough. I hated stoma, felt so alone, thought my life was over and I’d never be back outside again.
I was in hospital 2 weeks, I was scared to go home, learning to adapt to living with bag took time, everyone kept saying to me that it saved my life, “ you try living with it” I thought.
After trying many samples of bags I found one I liked, ok you still have leaks and sore skin, no one tells you about this or that the stoma moves! I freaked out first time it moved. I did my best to carry on but it wasn’t easy and I just did what I had to do, couldn’t look to the future.
Years went on like this, CT scans every 6 months, came back clear but still you don’t get the “what if” out your head.
Coming up to 5 years since op and I said if get that far I’ll have a tattoo done. Well that changed me as I had something to remind me how far I’ve come, and also it’s in memory of those who sadly are not here due to bladder cancer.
Support groups in Facebook are amazing as you realize, you are not alone…
Best one I’m in is ‘Fight Bladder Cancer’ which is also a charity. This has done me the world of good. I have always knitted and now I knit to fundraise, we all meet up a few times a year.
So 5 years on I got a tattoo, 6 years on I did a sky dive with The Red Devils in aid of Fight Bladder Cancer charity and next year 7 years on will be my 50th birthday!
Now if I’ve helped someone in the same situation as I was, it makes me feel so much better as I don’t want anyone to feel alone as I did. Yes I had my family and friends but no one really knows what it’s like.
I had no blood in urine which is the obvious sign of bladder cancer so now, raising awareness is my aim and live for the day!
Thank you for reading Regards Ros Bruce