David’s story – how reassurance and determination helped David through his chemotherapy treatment in his battle with bladder cancer
Having already overcome prostate cancer, David describes being diagnosed with bladder cancer as a ‘bolt from the blue’ but he was determined to do whatever it took to beat this cancer too. His mantra has always been 'the alternative to the treatment is far worse, so best to get on with the treatment!’ Here he tells us about the expert care and reassurance he received from the team at GenesisCare and how that really helped to relieve his anxiety and he believes, reduced his side effects.
David is 71 years old, married with 2 daughters and a granddaughter, and lives near Bristol. Having retired from a long, fulfilling, and demanding career, these days he’s focussed on keeping both his body and his mind active. Not keen on gyms, he’s a passionate walker and gardener, and a lover of books and history.
”When I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in June 2021, it hit me like a bolt from the blue. We’d just returned from a holiday in Cornwall and life was seemingly good especially as I’d overcome prostate cancer in 2018. However, I went to the loo and was alarmed to see that my urine had turned red – just like that. There had been no previous warnings and my GP was concerned that this was a bladder bleed as it wouldn’t stop, so I was sent for a cystoscopy.”
David had always invested in his health and once diagnosed with bladder cancer was keen to utilise his private medical insurance. Doing so meant he could access the best care as quickly as possible while also freeing up the NHS waiting lists for other patients. He requested to be referred to Professor Amit Bahl who had previously treated him for prostate cancer and knew his full medical history. Professor Bahl specialises in genitourinary cancers (prostate, bladder and renal cancers) and breast cancers at GenesisCare in Bristol.
Professor Bahl told us “Bladder cancer affects mainly older adults though not exclusively. It’s more common in men over 60 and the risk of developing bladder cancer increases with age.” The most common symptoms are blood in your urine which may sometimes turn your urine brown in colour. David’s symptoms came on suddenly, but this isn’t always the case – sometimes symptoms can come and go over a period of time. It's worth noting that blood in the urine can indicate other benign conditions and is not necessarily as serious as it turned out to be for David. However, early diagnosis in cancer can improve outcomes, so it’s always advisable to seek medical advice as soon as possible if you notice signs that something may be wrong. You can always book an appointment quickly and easily through our UrologyHub, which provides access to leading experts and the latest diagnostic testing. Many people choose this option as you don’t need a referral so it’s very accessible.”
David said “As with many cancer treatments, the first part of my treatment was surgery. Two tumours were located, one in my bladder and another in a lymph node so it was decided that it would be best to completely remove my bladder and 2 suspect lymph nodes. My prostate was also removed at this time as a preventative measure because I had dormant cancer cells here that could have potentially caused issues in the future.
I was obviously concerned about having surgery but at the same time, I was eager to get on with it so I could get back to enjoying my retirement. I was well supported by my wife, and this helped me to remain positive throughout the experience. Following the surgery, I went back to see Professor Bahl to agree what other treatments I would need.”
Chemotherapy is just one of a number of types of Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapies offered at GenesisCare. Hormone therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapies are often used, but in David’s case chemotherapy was the most suitable option.
Professor Bahl said “As David had surgery for bladder cancer, following a detailed multi-disciplinary team discussion, the recommendation was to offer chemotherapy to help prevent the cancer spreading, otherwise known as metastasising. This decision was based on the available evidence for David’s type of cancer as well as his own personal preferences.”
David continued “I was told that I would need to undergo a course of chemotherapy and that this could increase the risk of kidney damage, and as you can imagine, this wasn’t good news especially as my right kidney had all but shut down as a result of where the cancer was growing in a sidewall of my bladder. Regardless, the alternative of not having chemotherapy was far worse so I decided to just get on with the treatment.” Thankfully Professor Bahl discussed my options in detail, he told me about the different chemotherapy drugs that were available and evaluated which would be most suitable for me based on my medical history. There was a chemotherapy drug that he could prescribe that had less risk of damaging my kidney, so that was the route we opted for.
I was pleased to be able to make joint decisions with my clinician about my treatment options and to also be able to have a choice of chemotherapy medicines. This was a real advantage and made me feel more in control – I was especially grateful for this.
“Being treated with chemotherapy at GenesisCare was exactly the high-quality treatment I was hoping for to help me defeat the cancer. The surroundings are of an extremely high standard with both private chemo pods, or a communal area where I could chat with other patients, which helped to pass the time. But for me, the most important thing, and a hallmark of GenesisCare, was the staff. I can’t rate them highly enough. They always had time to support me, reassure me, and answer all, of my questions.
This level of care and reassurance really helped to relieve any anxiety I may have had and enabled me to feel calm going into my treatments, keeping my blood pressure and heart-rates low.”
Professor Bahl said “This is important as chemotherapy can sometimes increase blood pressure. Patients are well managed during treatment and blood pressure is continually monitored. Just knowing that they are well looked after can have a positive impact.”
David continued “The team were also available at all times, which I found invaluable. I was even able to exchange texts with one of my nurses at 1am on one occasion when I ended up in A&E with an infection. It was hugely reassuring that I could get that level of support.“
Professor Bahl said “At GenesisCare we are very flexible and can support and treat patients when it’s most convenient for them. This is particularly useful if they have personal commitments or if they’re relying on being accompanied by someone who is managing a busy work schedule – it’s just one less thing to worry about.”
David summed up his care by saying “In my opinion, the constant level of patient interaction was invaluable, and I would say world-class. I was incredibly grateful to everyone at GenesisCare throughout my treatment. Everyone I met wanted to do their very best for me and I would highly recommend them to anyone facing a cancer diagnosis.”
Professor Bahl said “David’s treatment has been delivered with the aim of preventing recurrences. He will continue to be well looked after even now his chemotherapy is complete being closely monitored and receiving regular scans to ensure he gets the best outcome possible.”