“It is what it is, I’ve got it and that’s it really. I get on with it and live my life as best I can.”

My name is Spike and I’m 42 years old. I’ve been married for 21 years, and I met Nicola, my wife when I was in junior school, we lived in the same village. I enjoy walking my dogs and keeping fit. I love my motorbike, a Yamaha Phazer ... it’s a big one! I used to do a bit of racing. I've got a son and a foster son. We’ve been fostering for about eight years now, we’ve looked after seven children so far and we love it. My mum used to foster, she did it for 25 years and it’s something I’m really passionate about. It’s a bit of a family tradition.

Had you heard of bladder cancer before?

Not really, no, never. I don’t think I’d ever seen any literature or posters anywhere.

What were your symptoms?

I noticed over a few months when I was going to the toilet that the flow kind of slowed down, so I didn’t think it was anything other than just getting older. But over time I noticed what looked like tiny grains of sand in the bottom of the toilet bowl. One night I had a good look at them and they were red, like little clots. Over the course of the next few days my wee got pinker and pinker and then deeper and deeper red. I went to the doctor the next morning and had a couple of tests on my wee, but my doctor told me not to worry. The results came back and the doctor said it was nothing sinister, nothing to worry about, and to get back to normal.

But after a couple of weeks the same thing happened, more little grains in my wee followed by brighter and bright red, so I went back to the doctor. He sent me to the hospital for some more in depth tests. I had an ultrasound scan and the radiographer said I'd hear in the next week if anything was wrong. At 8 o'clock the next morning I had a call from my doctor telling me to come in straight away as he needed to see me. At my appointment he said they had found a mass 16mm in diameter and I would need further tests. I knew something was wrong because when I left he wished me good luck. I thought, ‘Oh no’. I went for a CT scan and a few days later had a cystoscopy followed by a TURBT on New Year's Eve.

What was your initial diagnosis?

I was told I had Grade 2 bladder cancer which is obviously not terrible but still cancer.

What has your treatment been?

I had the initial mass removed with a TURBT and then a Mitomycin wash. After three months I went back for a follow up cystoscopy and they discovered another cancerous growth. As the tumour was over the opening to my kidney they had to put in a stent. Three months later in another check up they found another tumour which they've also removed. My results came through two weeks later and they found another small tumour. Since then I had a three month check and was delighted it was an all clear, that's my first clear one in 14 months, on all the others it’s come back. That’s a really good feeling.

How has it changed your life?

To be fair it hasn’t really because it hasn’t affected me, apart from the TURBTs which affect me physically. Mentally I’m a lot more positive and I don’t care about the little stuff anymore. I’m just bobbing along with it and hoping it doesn’t progress. I think it’s made me a better person … I’m more tolerant of other people and I don’t care what other people think of me. I do a lot more for other people.

Why is this campaign important to you?

It’s being in this position, I consider myself lucky to have been diagnosed so quickly, as I know that a lot of people aren’t. And that’s possibly because there isn’t enough awareness of bladder cancer, not just with the general public but with the medical profession as well. Too many GPs are quick to write it off as an infection or something else. I was very lucky with my GP. I just want people to know it’s not an old man’s disease, that’s the misconception. The money that gets spent on research of bladder cancer is tiny, it’s laughable.

Are you going to beat it?

Definitely. Although, I’ve said before if it beats me it will be the making of me. It is what it is, I’ve got it and that’s it really. I get on with it and live my life as best I can.



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