In my previous blog post I shared the first part of my bladder cancer journey and how we were told the bad news. In this post I continue sharing my experience and explain what happened next...
So, according to the nurse it wasn't even a ‘proper cancer’. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We just scoop the cancer out and if it comes back, we keep scooping it out!” I later found out that this ‘scooping’ procedure is called a TURBT - a transurethral resection of bladder tumours.
The nurse’s attitude towards bladder cancer made me feel foolish for crying, but I had no control over the tears.
We slowly walked back to the car. So much was going through our minds, we were stunned and, despite what the nurse had said, this WAS cancer so how could it be so easy to get rid of it? Was it that easy? was everything going to be alright?
I told Tim we were calling everyone on the way home, so we didn't have to do it face to face and I wanted it out there, I wanted the explanation of things over and done with.
We begun calling people, starting with our son, Ashleigh. But what was I going to say? How was I going to say it?
I decided to take the same approach that the nurse had taken, to downplay it, as we had no idea what we were actually dealing with.
After speaking with Ashleigh, I called my aunt, again downplaying it. Slowly and surely we worked through the list. Each time I felt more upset for those who I was telling than I did for myself. It was only a few hours ago we had no idea I had cancer…oh what I would have given to wind back those hours.
My friends rallied round me offering comfort and support. They too were in shock and utter disbelief.
I took to the Prosecco as I needed something to silence my mind and the thoughts going through it. It still all seemed so unreal. The next few days were a blur. We tried to stay off ‘Dr. Google’ as much as we could, but it’s human nature to want to know what will happen next.
Isn't it funny how your mind blows everything out of proportion in the early hours of the morning? That’s how My Big Fat British Bladder Tumour Facebook page was born.
Sleeping was hard, especially after drinking, as the alcohol would ensure I was up and down most of the night peeing, and once I was awake that was it. There was too much going through my mind and I needed to write it all down to get it out of my head.
Tim and I spoke about going private for my treatment and on the Monday morning we called my private urologist and asked him if he would perform the TURBT, he agreed.
Within hours I had a phone call to arrange a CT scan with contrast, it was booked in for the very next day. On the Wednesday I was due in for my TURBT, so all of this could be over and done with within the week.
We arrived at the hospital on the Wednesday, filled with trepidation. In a few hours it would all be over. “In a few hours I won’t have cancer anymore,” I told myself. That’s how it should have been but I realised something wasn't right when my consultant came in and sat on the bed. He never sits on the bed.
He began to speak and told us we couldn’t go ahead with the TURBT because the cancer had already broken through the bladder wall, through the muscle and into the fat.
We sat there stunned. He continued to say that he could still take me down for a biopsy, as this would need to be done anyway. I sat there in silence, unable to take his words in. I agreed to the biopsy. To be honest I just wanted to be asleep for a few hours, a nice solid sleep, I just wanted to NOT think about bladder cancer for a while.
I turned to Tim and told him to call whoever he needed to call for support while I was under as when I woke up we wouldn’t be crying over this anymore. I didn't want to waste any more tears on it.
The biopsy went well, and I was taken back to my room. My son arrived, and we had to tell him the bad news, but I had no idea how to say it. He brought with him a carbon monoxide monitor and a small can of gin and tonic - not your usual hospital gifts! They made me laugh but I think he knew something wasn't right. He’d been sat with us for about 30 minutes when I told him. I chose my moment carefully and had waited for the nurse to be in the room, hoping she’d be able to answer any questions I couldn’t. “It didn't go exactly to plan,” I told him.
I went on to explain that I would probably need chemotherapy as the cancer had spread and that my consultant had already spoken to an oncologist who was happy to see us.
I watched his face, he seemed to handle it well. I now know that he totally lost it in the car park and sobbed his heart out on the way home.
We had to wait four to six weeks for the biopsy results. My stomach had constant butterflies… all we could do was wait.