Earlier this month I turned 45, which is an age I was told I wouldn’t have reached if I hadn't had my bladder removed.
I was diagnosed two years ago today and it’s strange and rather surreal to know I wouldn’t be here if the cancer hadn’t been spotted and the medical teams hadn’t acted so quickly (I had an MRI two days after diagnosis: work started immediately).
It scares me when I think how incidental my diagnosis was. I was in hospital for a routine procedure on my urinary tract and Homerton took a biopsy ‘just in case’. I was the picture of health and running 5KM every other day.
A few months ago, my GP hugged me in the street and said he was so glad he’d referred me. He’d done so against NICE guidelines, which say even if you’re presenting with all the symptoms of bladder cancer, women should not be referred to a urologist unless they’re at least 45. I was 43.
I don’t think about cancer as much anymore and I wonder what to do with this blog, which went from me banging on about journalism to detailing the horror and fear of serious illness (with the odd laugh thrown in). However, a lot has happened since then, not least the bottom falling out of the freelance journalism world, my new market and my foray into streetfood selling (I handle the money: nickname is Kate the Coin). I’m sure I’ll return to cancer in the future but I’m going to try and make my next few posts about something else.
I must say though, one of the brilliant things about this becoming a cancer blog is the number of messages I’ve received from people who have been diagnosed with the big C and found something in my writing that resonated and gave them some hope. Even in the darkest of dark days, I tried to retain my sense of humour and I’m also living proof that yes, it’s shit, but you are still you at the end of it and hopefully there will be an end to it. I’m on a bladder cancer forum and I’ve seen a lot of people die from this. Many of them are younger than me. Why? Because they were diagnosed too late. I think I’ll raise a glass tonight. To me and everyone in the NHS who ensured I’d celebrate reaching 45.