Colin O’Sullivan was left with two ostomies after the operation, which was the only option for him after learning that his muscle-invading bladder cancer could not be treated with chemotherapy or radiation.
Now he wants to help make a difference for other patients and break the stigma behind topics seen by many as embarrassing – and is making the most of his skills as a trombonist in the Lytham-based hospital. Guardian Orchestra.
He organizes a band benefit concert to help raise awareness and funds for bladder cancer.
It’s at AKS School, Clifton Drive South, St Annes on Sunday June 19, from 2.30pm and will feature music from popular films, such as Jurassic Park and The Greatest Showman.
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Colin’s passion for bladder cancer awareness stems from his own self-confessed “lack of knowledge” and the ignorance that comes from people’s reluctance to discuss topics like “pee” and “poop” when it’s is something that everyone does every day.
“My ignorance and naivety still amaze me now,” he said.
“It is essential that people know the symptoms of bladder cancer and see their GP as soon as they have these symptoms.
“Early diagnosis is key. It’s so important that people don’t feel embarrassed to talk about it. The dialogue around bladder cancer and the issues that come with it will make all the difference.”
Colin, 64, from St Annes, says he was ‘absolutely appalled’ when doctors told him two years ago that his condition could not be treated with chemo or radiotherapy.
“I still remember it word for word,” says the freelance decorator.
“After my operation I felt utter horror seeing what I looked like with two new ostomy pouches, feeling like I had been hit by a convoy of trucks, not believing I would ever be fit enough to work again and think that my role as a husband had been very seriously curtailed.
“Once the brilliant hospital staff worked their magic, I was sent home to try to figure out what had happened and what impact it was going to have on my life going forward.
“The Fight Bladder Cancer and Colostomy UK charities have been extremely helpful throughout my journey.
“Given all the publicity and promotion other cancer charities receive, I was so surprised at how little I knew about bladder cancer. I thought, what can I do to help?
“The band’s agreement to do the gig launched a whole new purpose in my life and I hope I can at least still do something useful.”
Dr Lydia Makaroff, Managing Director of Fight Bladder Cancer, said: “Bladder cancer is more common than people realize and in many cases patients are hearing about bladder cancer for the first time. when they receive their diagnosis.
“Especially if you see blood in your urine, see a doctor.”
Shannon Boldon, Bladder Cancer Policy Manager: “Despite the prevalence of bladder cancer, patient survival has not improved over the past three decades and public awareness is low. “
Tickets are £10 at the door. Details on 07811 479972.