The consultant started the conversation with 'I'm sorry…' and from that point on I kind of stopped listening because I knew it wasn't going to be good news. I felt numb and lost the ability to focus as my mind went into a spin. It took a long time to sink in.
I had radical surgery to have my bladder removed. In terms of early symptoms, to be honest, I could only put two and two together with the benefit of hindsight. I had been losing weight, but this was over a period of a year or so, I just put it down to an active lifestyle. Nearer to the time of the first diagnosis, I had been getting pains in my lower abdomen when I did something slightly strenuous like taking the dogs for a walk, and I had been getting fatigued quicker than normal and noticed a change in my moods. Again, I put it down to stress at work, long hours, poor eating habits, and general tiredness.
'You don't realise what support is out there.'
After being diagnosed, one of the most important things I did was go through that door to the Macmillan information and support centre. Until you're diagnosed and you need those resources, like information on what happens after your treatment, you don't realise what support is out there. Macmillan helped to get me through the most difficult period of my life.
The diagnosis and radical surgery had a huge affect on my wife and I and all our close family and relatives. I was unable to work, we had debts to cope with, a constant worry of if the cancer would come back. Macmillan were very helpful in assessing my financial situation and pointing me in the right direction.
I started a cancer support group for south Buckinghamshire and ran it as Chairman for the first year. I'm pleased to say it is still running with over a hundred members, even though I passed over the reigns a few years ago now, but they keep me in touch.