kate bohdanowicz writer

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I've only bloody gone and got cancer

Last week I was diagnosed with cancer. That was a shock but at least it’s given me something to blog about.

It’s a rare form of bladder cancer that has been aggravated from a lifetime of urinary tract infections. I’d been having some exploratory tests but I don’t think anyone thought cancer was an option. The average age of diagnosis is 73 and I’m 43. I’m not male and I don’t smoke. Also, I have this weird type that is virtually non-existent in the Western world. Once I’ve settled down, I’ll be pitching my story to health editors everywhere. My usual fees apply.

God I love the NHS. Within six days of being diagnosed, I was operated on. The NHS has almost certainly saved my life. I’m being treated at Homerton hospital in Hackney under the care of the top urologist there and one of the few women surgeons in the area (the area being urology, not Hackney).

Tickets to The Book Of Mormon should be on prescription. By coincidence I had booked to see the show last Saturday. It’s so funny that four days after a cancer diagnosis it had me laughing out loud. I’m happy for that to be used on the poster.

I won’t dwell on the dark places I visited in those first few days. Google is not your friend! Having to tell my mum and my big sister – three years after we lost our dad to cancer – is not easy. Googling Rightmove and showing my other half flats he could afford if he had to sell our current place didn’t go down well. My partner, friends and family have all been brilliant.

And there has been humour. Telling one of the urologists to “eff off” when he converted my weight from pounds to kilos in his head and added 10kg on. Hearing radiologists discuss their lunch orders as they piped instructions to me through headphones during an MRI scan. Helping the nurse work her new computer as I’m dressed in gown, hair net and surgical stockings.

I’ve also had some crazy mind-bending drugs.

All the clichés are true. I’m taking one day at a time. I’m appreciating the moment.  It puts things into perspective. Blah de blah.

I’m also eliminating stress from my life and I’m being kinder to myself. If I don’t want to do something, I’m not doing it. That is empowering. I’m fortunate I work from home and I’m pleased I’m busy.

The prognosis is good. The cancer is “tiny” and the likelihood is they’ve got it out. The doctor has talked about putting me under “cancer surveillance” with three-monthly checks. If there’s a hint of it coming back then we’ll take it from there. Right now, I’m happy with that.

So, please treat me as normal. I don’t need flowers or presents or anything like that. It’s nice to know that people are around and I can rely on the NHS before the Tories dismantle it forever!

Comments (11)

  1. Richard:
    Aug 06, 2015 at 02:35 PM

    Sorry to hear of your diagnosis but glad you've had a good experience in the NHS. In my experience as an NHS employee (I'm a mri radioGRAPHER- it's amazing how sensitive those microphones are!) there are two groups of people with strong opinions on the NHS. Those who are or have relatives who have been treated recently and who are almost always extremely positive about the NHS. And the second group who have had no recent experience and so believe everything the media tells them.
    Anyhow, all the very best for your recovery. richard

  2. Kate Bohdanowicz:
    Aug 06, 2015 at 02:49 PM

    Thankyou Richard. You do a great job. I bloody love the NHS.

  3. Vic:
    Aug 06, 2015 at 06:13 PM

    Do you mind me asking what type of cancer you have? I know it's a bit nosy but I was recently diagnosed with urachal cancer which is rare and I haven't heard of many others, especially not in the uk. I'm 33 so not sure I believe the average age statistics either! Mine was more advanced so prognosis not as positive but taking each day as it comes. I'm on the watch and wait too with a scan every 4 months, first one due in September. What I've learnt so far is: Google bad, nhs amazing!

  4. Kate Bohdanowicz:
    Aug 06, 2015 at 06:31 PM

    Hi Vic

    I'm sorry to hear your news. Mine is squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder, which accounts for 5% of diagnoses and is found mainly in developing countries.

    I haven't heard of yours but I hope your scan goes well.



  5. Andrew Winterbottom :
    Aug 06, 2015 at 06:39 PM

    Hi, there's thousands of folk here at Fight Bladder Cancer, including children, teenagers and folk in their 30's and 40's and above.

    Do join us x

  6. Steve Bergman:
    Aug 09, 2015 at 08:04 AM

    Hi Kate
    Good to see you yesterday. As we said, visiting that dark place is scary but the cancer sufferers I have spoken to all go there. It's all part of the individual journey.
    Here's hoping that's your lot and you remain clear

  7. Kate Bohdanowicz:
    Aug 09, 2015 at 08:14 AM

    Thanks Steve

    It was good to bump into your good self. Stick with the positivity, enjoy the tan (!) and good luck.


  8. Adele:
    Aug 09, 2015 at 08:35 AM

    Think this blog will help you, your family, friends and anybody else going through cancer

  9. Kate Bohdanowicz:
    Aug 09, 2015 at 08:50 AM

    Thanks Adele

    See you Tuesday.


  10. Bernadette Russell:
    Aug 14, 2015 at 08:25 AM

    Hey Bod, sorry I only just heard this news but glad you got good treatment from NHS and that things look positive. let me know when you're up for a visit or an evening out after 23rd. I like the sound of you being kind to yourself. Good work x

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