The bladder cancer surgery that gave me my life back

Married to his childhood sweetheart, with two kids he adored, Mark was just 39 when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. After years of struggling, Mark has his life back thanks to TUF-trained surgeon, Mr Pete Cooke.

Over the course of five years Mark received treatment after treatment and each time he thought he was clear, the cancer came back.

“It felt like my life was on hold, that everything had just come to a standstill. I felt like I couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel and my emotions became very frail and very fragile. For years I struggled to come out of my cage and talk about how I felt. I’d feel sick whenever I saw the hospital’s number was ringing on my phone, it was horrible.”

Eventually, after he’d been given the all clear twice already, Mark went back to the doctors and found that he had bladder cancer yet again, but this time it was an incredibly fast growing cancer and serious action was required or Mark was at risk of losing his life.

Mark was referred to Mr Peter Cooke, a surgeon who, along with his team, received robotic surgery training that was funded by The Urology Foundation. Peter believed the bladder needed to be removed.

“Peter talked about the option of having a stoma bag, but I was only 44 at the time. Having a stoma bag for so long was not a good option for me. So that’s when Pete told me about neobladders.”

What is a neobladder?

Neobladder operations are relatively new and are best performed by robotic surgery. It’s a procedure that sees the patient’s original bladder removed and a new one created within the patient by using tissue from the patient’s bowel.

“Peter sat down for an hour with me and my wife, Angela, to talk through everything that the neobladder procedure would involve. He helped us weigh up the pros and cons and eventually we decided to go ahead with the operation. It was the best decision I have ever made.

How was Mark's experience of the operation?

“After the procedure had taken place, Peter came up to the ward to speak to me and told me it was the best neobladder operation he’d ever done. I was up on my feet for the first time after the operation just eight hours after it took place. I was back on my feet altogether just 24 hours after the operation, out of hospital in five days, and then back to work within just 11 weeks. It was incredible.

“I really couldn’t fault Peter and his team, they did exactly as they said they would and any time I’ve had questions or worries since the operation, all I have to do is get in touch or head down to the hospital and they would help me right away, even more than a year later. They’ve been fantastic.

“Now, a year and a bit after the operation, I am totally back to normal, I’m going to the gym most nights, going for runs, enjoying surfing, and this summer we’re going on our first family holiday since the diagnosis. Unless you were told, you wouldn’t know I’d had bladder cancer; I just have a normal life, which was all I wanted when I was at my worst with bladder cancer.

“I’ve come through cancer and I still have my wife and my two kids. What more can I ask for? It sounds like a Hollywood cliché and I wish I could say it more eloquently, but Peter saved my life. Choosing to have robotic surgery was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Mark is one of countless others who have received lifesaving robotic surgery from surgeons that received training through TUF funding. When you give money to TUF, you join the fight against urology disease and help save lives.


Read more


Read more


Read more

Male reproductive organs

Read more