Teresa Scott shares her story about being diagnosed with advanced, metastatic bladder cancer. The GP had treated her for several months for a UTI, giving her five sets of antibiotics, despite having other painful symptoms.
Her story highlights the all too common and worrying fact that women often face a worse prognosis when finally diagnosed with bladder cancer compared to men ((John et al., 2021. European Urology Focus, 7(2), 359-365). Misdiagnosis of bladder cancer should never go on for this long.
“In July 2021, I had a UTI, and my GP gave me the usual dose of antibiotics; however, I still had pain in my lower tummy and back, plus when I went for a wee.
After five sets of antibiotics, my GP finally sent me for an ultrasound.
The ultrasound showed a polyp in my womb. They also looked at my bladder, but they couldn’t see anything on the ultrasound.
This was August 2021, so I went for a failed treatment to get a biopsy from my womb, which was very painful, but it may have saved my life as the tumour in the bladder started to bleed.
I was shocked by the blood and back on the phone to the doctors but was told this was the polyp. I told them that it was in my pee.
I was booked in for the polyp to be removed under general anaesthetic; however, I was already in A&E before the operation.
I remember it was the 4th of October, and I was bleeding so heavily that I thought something in my bladder had burst.
The A&E doctor was excellent, and I guess he did save my life. He sent the sample off, and in 48 hours, my doctor called and referred me to a bladder specialist.
He even said, ‘it was a good job you kept on’.
I will never forget the 26th of October when I saw the tumour. I had to go alone, and I just cried in the car afterwards.
I was in shock.
Everything moved very quickly, with CT scans, blood-test etc. And then there was the cancellation of our fantastic holiday after two years to Barbados, again.
My TURBT was booked for the 16th of November. I was back in the hospital only a couple of weeks after the polyp was removed.
They removed a 2cm tumour, aggressive and ready for a fight.
I recovered quickly and felt fine. I got home to see my discharge notes say, ‘Secondary metastasis cancer’.
Cancer had not even been mentioned, and I was in shock. I called my doctor the next day, and he told me, “Don’t worry”, but of course, I was worried like hell. I was sure I was going to die! Dr Google told me that!
My cancer spread straight away.
On the 1st of December, my husband and I went to see a nurse; everyone kept telling me that nurses don’t give bad news. But I was told I had muscle-invasive bladder cancer, which had already spread. I cried for two days.
All very small but still secondary cancer. Something you can only hope will stay stable.
I went from having a polyp to advanced bladder cancer in 1 month.
I started my chemo journey in January 2022. My oncologist is fantastic, and I love him; he is so positive even when I am not. After a heart scan, I had my first cycle, and it was hard.
The first session was eight hours, followed by a 2-hour session for one cycle a week later.
Eight hours of chemo is hard, and I was floored, but I got up every day, showered and sorted myself out. Maybe a few naps.
I had my next session in Feb 2022, so the break lets me feel a bit more human. Everything tasted terrible, I had a bad cough, and my back was hurting, but all that seems to have passed now after some antibiotics, and now my doctor rings me almost weekly.
I also got terrible indigestion, which again some miracle tablets sorted out. I must make sure I take the meds on time, and my husband is doing his best with a busy job to cook for me and clean.
I have amazing friends and support with my husband and adult daughter nearby.
I have my down days as it is hard for me as a fitness instructor. My last fitness class was in December 2021, and now it takes me a while to walk up the stairs, but I am getting into a pattern of going for a walk every morning and doing some easy Pilates for my back.
A good friend of mine introduced me to Fight Bladder Cancer. I quickly met Amy, the Supporter Care & Community Engagement Officer, and discussed getting involved over a cuppa.
I did not want a big charity where I was just a statistic.
I’m a person, and with Fight Bladder Cancer, I feel part of a family. They email me, text me and follow my story.
They have been a great help in supporting me, which helps me feel better.
This charity takes you into their fold and helps you understand so much, and makes you feel like it will all be ok.
It is early days for me, and I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I’ve started my 100 hours in 100 days challenge for Fight Bladder Cancer, and all my friends are behind me and already raised in such a short time over £2k.
I am scared, but I’m a fighter, so watch this space!”
You can follow Teresa's journey on her blog here: https://serendipity-beauty0.wixsite.com/bladdermouth
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