This is my story with my battle with cancer, which I would like to share with you. My name is John Deadman and I come from Chatham. I have taken over as secretary of the Urology Group, and hopefully by talking about my ongoing battle of bladder cancer, it may help others.
During 2008 I noticed things weren’t quite right with my wife, and to cut a long story short, between late 2008 till 2012 my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. We struggled on until mid-2014 when I retired to look after her. Not going through all the problems we have faced over the years, which are for another day, but can tell you that I am her main carer, 24/7. I now have carers in three times a day to help, as she was completely dependent on me.
This now leads me on to my issues of bladder cancer. In November 2018 I first noticed passing blood when I used the loo, which only happened once, and a year on, I can confirm that I have never seen any other signs.
However, when I got home, I called a District Nurse who attends to my wife, and she told me to call my GP, the next day I met with my GP who made an appointment at Medway Hospital. Two weeks later I was called in to be examined, and after a camera was inserted into my bladder, the doctor told me, and showed me a tumor. I then had a meeting with Mr. Marsh a Consultant Urologist when we discussed the results, and because I was booked to go to Scotland for six days in January, it was agreed to have me back in after this for an operation, where they removed the tumor. I was then called back for another operation, after which I was told that there was no more tumors. Having met with Mr. Marsh again, it was agreed for me to start BCG treatment, which started with treatment once a week for six weeks, then a three month break. Then treatment continued once a week for three weeks, over approx. three years. However, during the first three-month break, I was called back for another operation, where they found two small tumors. I was then referred to Mr Bhatt, Consultant, who offered me a further six weeks treatment or to have my bladder removed, and because of my situation at home, I agreed to this. After having the first week’s treatment, I developed a rash on my legs, and when the nurse looked at the rash, after discussing the problem with Mr. Bhat, they couldn’t treat me until I had seen my GP, who told me he believed that the rash was caused due to stress. As this was the fourth time treatment had been delayed, due to rashes etc. when I went back to see Mr. Bhat, and after we had discussed the situation, I said that I couldn’t deal with another two to three years of delays, and the ifs and buts, and I would like to go ahead with having my bladder removed, which he agreed with, so I signed the paperwork. After a couple of weeks I had an appointment with Professor Sheriff. We had further discussions, it was agreed to go ahead with the operation once I had a bone scan, if negative, Prof Sheriff agreed to remove my bladder, because they could not guarantee that the cancer would not return. He also explained to me, that when the BCG treatment is given, for about 50% of patients it works, the patients that it doesn’t work for are called back and offered another six weeks treatment. With these patients, once again about 50% works and if not they are called back to have their bladder removed. As I have already stated, because there was no guarantee that the cancer would not return, he agreed to the operation. Prof Sheriff also booked me in to have fitness training, which, whilst I attended these appointments twice a week, I wondered why I needed them.
5th November arrived, approximately one year on; I attended Medway Hospital, where Prof Sheriff and Mr. Bhat removed my bladder. The day after my operation they got me out of bed and I sat in a chair for eight hours, and to be truthful, didn’t even feel like I had an operation, although I did have tubes hanging out of me. However, day two was a different matter, when they got me out of bed it was like a train had hit me, I couldn’t even wash my face and had to be put back to bed. Having spent two days in High Dependency unit, I was transferred to Kingfisher Ward, and I must say throughout my stay in both wards, I could not have been better looked after, and would like to thank all the doctors, nurses and staff that treated me.
Having said that I thought that the fitness training seemed a waste of time, the thing that I completely underestimated, and although I was told, was what the operation took out of me, and the lack of appetite, let alone the two stone that I lost in weight. However, one week on and I was on my way home. I had a carer in for 24 hours a day to assist with my wife and me for about another week, then she was in for twelve hours a day for a further two weeks. Whilst this was arranged because of my wife, I needed this just as much, because I became very tired all the time. For the first month I had some good days, and not so good days, plus a couple of small accidents with my new bladder, which is now on the outside of my body (a stoma bag) but two months on I am improving steadily. I am getting stronger every day, and although I still have to go back to see my consultant to discuss my progress, I feel much more upbeat and am looking forward to the future. Also I have my life back so that I can continue to care for my wife, for however long she has left.
Before I finish, and I am under no illusions that the cancer may return [hoping it doesn’t], I have never been able to sit on my hands when anybody needs help, which is why I joined the Urology Group and became Secretary.
Having now gone through the operation, I would like to once again thank all the hospital staff, who have helped me through the operation, including the Stoma Nurses, Smart Nurses and dietitian nurses, not forgetting my Daughter and family, carers and neighours all of which I couldn’t have managed without.
John and his best friend Sheba catching some rays