“You have to find a new way of doing things, a new normal”

16/04/2020

rob-powell

 “You have to find a new way of doing things, a new normal”

Rob Powell was diagnosed with bladder cancer at the age of 54. He shares his experience and how he has managed the side effects of his treatment.

“The first sign was a few days before Christmas 2017. My wife Louise and I were doing some Christmas shopping, and I went to the loo and noticed blood in my pee. I knew immediately that it wasn’t right and it needed sorting.

“My GP sent me to see a urologist to have it investigated. Basically, I had a camera go where cameras should never go. You could see this mushroom-like tumour on the screen, and a biopsy confirmed that it was muscle-invasive bladder cancer. That’s not the news you want to hear.

“As far as they could tell, it was contained and we had caught it in the nick of time. Treatment started quite quickly with four cycles of chemotherapy to shrink the size of the tumour. Shortly after the chemo finished, I had a radical cystectomy to remove my bladder, prostate and some other bits.

“I opted for a urinary stoma (ileal conduit), where urine passes through a channel into a bag attached directly to your body. I chose not to have a neobladder as I didn’t want to have to go through my body learning new stuff. I wanted to get on with my life.

“Bladder cancer doesn’t just affect you physically but mentally. Sexually, too – you have to find a new way of doing things, a new normal.

“When discussing my sexual function, I was referred to the urology nurses who have prescribed injections. Our sex life is not the same. The injections interrupt things, but we’re working it out for ourselves.

“My wife has been incredible through it all. My bladder cancer diagnosis didn’t just affect me, it had a huge impact on her.

“The operation had changed so many things in my life, and I didn’t want to let it beat me. I wanted to get back to things that I like doing. I was a keen cyclist previously, and so I decided to sign up to RideLondon.

“I came across The Urology Foundation on the RideLondon site as one of their affiliated charities. It was a no brainer to sign up to raise money for them.

“TUF helps the people who helped me. I was lucky – if I can help others receive the same treatment and care I had, that would be great.”