From the sunbed to the operating table

Sylvia was a week away from the Majorca sun with her daughter and grandson when she noticed blood in her pee. That discovery was a big one for Sylvia, but thanks to a surgeon who received training from The Urology Foundation, Sylvia has waved goodbye to bladder cancer.

“A few years ago, I was preparing for a trip to Majorca with my daughter and my little grandson. I knew I wanted to be mobile while I was out there, so I booked an appointment with my GP for some injections in my knees.

“Other than the sore knees, I felt very well. I didn’t have any symptoms at all, certainly none that would suggest that I had a cancer lurking in my bladder. That was until, just a few days before my GP appointment, I noticed my pee was a lovely red colour. I took a sample and brought it with me to the appointment.

Majorca went out the window, it was replaced by surgery

“When I showed the urine sample to my GP, he was shocked by it. He told me there was no way I could leave the country when I was losing so much blood. That led to a difficult conversation with a 6 year old who was pretty upset that Nan was going to have to cancel the trip to Majorca! Don’t worry, he got over it when we decided it would just be postponed until Nan was feeling a bit better!

“My GP referred me to the urology department at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton where, after a cystoscopy, it was confirmed I had bladder cancer.

“You’d think it would be a devastating thing to hear, but I was actually pretty blasé about it! I sat down with a surgeon called Mr Pete Cooke, who was trained in robotic surgery through a grant from The Urology Foundation. He talked me through the treatment options and I realised that this was something I could get rid of.

“It seemed common sense to me. Pete told me that he could remove my bladder through a robotically performed operation and replace it with a urostomy bag, which is a little bag that collects the urine and that I empty when it becomes full.

“My daughter wanted me to look at radiotherapy as a treatment option, but that has a success rate of about 75%, whilst the operation Pete offered had a success rate of nearly 100%. I asked Pete what he’d want and he told me he’d always go for the operation.”

I felt awful after the operation, but it’s been worth it

“Before the operation my daughter and I sat down with a nurse whose responsibility it was to tell us all that could happen as a result of this surgery. She talked about vomiting and bowels going to sleep and all sorts.

“I walked out of the meeting and said to my daughter ‘I don’t know why she bothered telling me all of that, none of it applies to me.’

“That’s become something of a running joke between my daughter and I! As it turns out, I should have paid more attention!

“Sorry to say, but I vomited for England. My bowel went into hibernation twice. It was pretty rough for around 3 months whilst I stayed with my daughter. Just about the only thing that didn’t happen was bursting my stitches, which was mercifully unlikely thanks to undergoing a robotically performed operation.

“Pete said that it would take around 12 months before I was back to normal and he was right. It was just about taking small steps, one at a time.

“I started going out for short trips of just half an hour on the bus and I started to get back to normal. Before long I was very active and now, a couple of years later, I’m completely back to feeling like myself.

“I’ve even gone back to my ballroom and Latin dancing! And, even better, we did make it to Majorca, in the end. My grandson was very pleased!”

The Urology Foundation train surgeons like Mr Pete Cooke so that they can make a difference in lives like Sylvia’s. Help us to make a difference in more lives by donating today.


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