Public Health England have revealed that 17,450 people in England are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer every year, and around 7,600 people die annually from the diseases. To coincide with this, Public Health England’s Be Clear on Cancer campaign returns to raise awareness of a key symptom for these cancers – blood in urine – which is a symptom in over half of bladder cancers and almost a fifth of kidney cancers.
Here, two brave survivors share their stories.
Alison Crellin, 53, Carlisle
It was Christmas Day in 2013 when Alison first noticed blood in her urine, which at first she thought was just symptoms relating to menopause. Her third granddaughter had just been born so she was reluctant to make a fuss on the day. Although she was shocked at what she had just seen, Alison put on a brave face and tried to get on with her day.
For four months Alison continued to dismiss the symptoms as a product of the life stage she was going through. However, when her husband expressed concerns she knew it was time to act. She went to her GP where they took a urine sample. Looking at the sample, it was pure blood.
"The GP was so helpful," says Alison, "he made me completely aware of what was going on and was careful in warning me of the potential prognosis.”
At hospital, Alison received an ultrasound and a scan which found a large tumour on her bladder in 2014. The operation to remove her bladder was scheduled for a week later, however, there were complications during surgery, so is now having BCG treatment. Unfortunately, the surgeons were unable to remove Alison’s bladder completely, however, the operation to have her tumour removed was a success.
“Ladies, in general, we think we automatically know what’s wrong when we see blood in our pee," says Alison. "We don’t. We can never know. Don’t wait until it’s too late. This will not just be blood in the toilet basin; it will literally be blood in your urine. I want to raise as much awareness as possible so people can feel encouraged to go and get the help they so desperately need."
Geraldine Sinfield, 66, Peterborough
Geraldine noticed blood in her pee just before Christmas (2013); she explains she knew something was wrong so she rang her local GP immediately who told her to visit there and then. Geraldine recalls being told she had a small cancer tumour. “It was strange because there had been no pain, and there it was, this small tumour," says Geraldine. "I knew it was cancer before they said it aloud, you don’t have that much blood in your pee without a reason.”
Whilst they had caught the tumour relatively early on, Geraldine had to have surgery to remove it and received one dose of chemotherapy at the end of January (2014). Both procedures were straightforward. “It was almost unbelievable that I was having cancer treatment," she says. "There was a lot going on in my life at the time so my mind was elsewhere, but I just got it all sorted so quickly.”
Geraldine is clear on her advice to others who notice blood in their pee. “Having so much blood in your pee - you just know it’s not normal," she says. "I just don’t know if other people would be so quick to call the doctor but my advice would be do it immediately. As soon as you do something about it, the stress is alleviated, you’ve got the ball rolling and you’re on the right track to getting a diagnosis and treatment.”
Learn the symptoms for yourself with this video:
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