The first time I stood on the steps outside The Royal Marsden, I cried. But the moment I stepped in and experienced how everyone is so positive and happy here, I knew I was in the best hands.
I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer in August 2016. I’d been having regular urinary tract infections since December 2015; although my GP said there was nothing to worry about, I was concerned, so pressed for further scans.
These results came back showing an aggressive tumour, which had progressed into the muscle of my bladder. I was told that, without further treatment, I might only have two years left to live.
After initial surgery at another hospital, surgeons there referred me to The Royal Marsden; they said that it was the best cancer hospital in the world, with amazing care and treatment. My consultant surgeon, Mr Pardeep Kumar, arranged for me to have two cycles of chemotherapy, but my tumour didn’t respond. Despite this, Mr Kumar gave me hope in the form of radical surgery.
During the operation, Mr Kumar removed my bladder, some lymph nodes, part of the vagina and performed a hysterectomy. He also carried out a Mitrofanoff procedure, where he used part of the intestine to create a ‘channel’ through which urine can pass out of the body, via a catheter in my belly button.
It’s thanks to this pioneering treatment that I’ve been able to avoid wearing a urostomy bag; other than my scar you would hardly know what has happened. This has had such a positive impact on me and my confidence; by having the Mitrofanoff procedure I can lead as ‘normal’ a life as possible, despite having my bladder removed.
Nearly two years on from my operation, my scans show that I have no signs of cancer, which is just amazing. If it wasn’t for The Royal Marsden, Mr Kumar and the fantastic theatre team, I simply wouldn’t be here.
Mr Pardeep Kumar, Consultant Urological Surgeon, said: “I am delighted that Julie’s scans show no signs of cancer and that her new bladder is working so well.
“The Mitrofano procedure has enabled Julie to maintain an excellent quality of life. We are one of a few centres in the country that can offer the type of pioneering operation that Julie underwent, which has proven effective in treating the particularly aggressive and unusual tumour that she had.