Christopher Stocks, 67, from Godley in Hyde was diagnosed with bladder cancer in the summer 2012. Now in remission, he’s sharing his story in support of the latest phase of the Help Us, Help You campaign which focusses on cancer symptoms. He wants people to spot the early warning signs of cancer and to get help from their GP practice.
Christopher said: “I first spotted a lot of red blood in my toilet after I’d been and I knew something wasn’t quite right. I had no pain.
“I couldn’t believe how much there was. I had to think whether I’d eaten beetroot which could have been the cause. It didn’t take me long to realise that something wasn’t quite right.”
Following an immediate phone call to his GP practice at Haughton Thornley Medical Centres, his GP, Dr Lisa Gutteridge referred him directly to NHS Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (ICFT).
He added: “I was seen a week later by the Urology team from Stepping Hill Hospital at the ICFT. At my appointment I had to change in to a gown and go in to another room for the procedure which involved a camera down my penis. There was a doctor and 2 nurses present in the room and TV screen which they used to monitor my scan.
“I recall the doctor saying – ‘I need to take a photo of that’. I didn’t look at the screen but I knew he’d seen something he didn’t like. I then got dressed. Soon after, they sat me down and said – ‘we’ve found a tumour on your bladder wall and it’s cancerous’.
“I was in shock. They called my wife in from another room and told her the news. At the time I was told that the tumour didn’t look like it had penetrated the bladder wall. I was then given a date to remove the tumour – they told me exactly when my operation would be.”
Two days later, following his body scan, he was told that the tumour had not gone through to his bladder wall or liver. He then went in to Stepping Hill Hospital for his operation.
They lasered the tumour from his bladder wall through the end of his penis and filled his bladder with Chemotherapy which had to be kept in overnight.
He continued: “The next day, they removed it. I wasn’t allowed home until I’d passed urine. After my operation I saw the Urology team every 6 months for 3 to 4 years then every 12 months. Four years ago I was told that I no longer had to go back to see them – I was given the all clear but I have to continue with 6 monthly blood tests including PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) done at my GP practice.
“The NHS and my GP, Dr Gutteridge have been absolutely brilliant – they’ve saved my life.
“I recall a work colleague many years previously who had been passing blood and hadn’t done anything about it. Twelve months later he was dead.”
Dr Asad Ali, co-chair at NHS Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Thank you Christopher for sharing your personal story to encourage others who have signs or symptoms of cancer to contact their GP practice for help.
“Our highest priority remains identifying people with symptoms who have not yet come forward and to get them treated as quickly as possible.
“If you’ve had tummy trouble such as discomfort or diarrhoea for three weeks or more, or seen blood in your pee – even just once, it could be a sign of cancer. It’s probably nothing serious, but finding cancer early makes it more treatable and can save lives.
“Anyone worrying about potential cancer symptoms is clear – do not delay, help us to help you by coming forward for care. Staff continue to take all possible measures to ensure services are safe.
“Contact your GP practice. Your NHS wants to see you.”