Updated: Feb 20, 2020
Like everyone who gets cancer I thought it would never happen to me - but September 20th 2016 after peeing blood at work I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Right then my life changed forever and I joined the most unfortunate members club in the world. Tens days later and whilst having surgery to remove the tumour from my bladder I was told the shattering news that a second tumour had been found on my kidney - it was 9cms and wrapped around the organ like a really snug onesie - frighteningly I knew nothing about it - the only signs I noticed in hindsight was the occasional lower back ache which I thought was a running niggle or the fact I was just getting older. The bladder cancer and subsequent CT Scan had unearthed a deadly secret that my body was hiding. If I hadn't discovered it when I did then I would most certainly be dead now - ironically cancer saved my life. I had the kidney out in the November of 2016 and in March 2017 went into remission and that was it nothing for over a year.
I started getting sciatic pain in November 2018 which again I thought was a running niggle. I'm not the most elegant of runners and with incredibly flat feet I used to succumb to small irritating injuries but this was no injury. In Feb 2019 I had an MRI Scan of the lower back - a tumour was found on my spine - and as quick as that I was back on the cancer rollercoaster. Now fully under the care of The Royal Marsden I was fast tracked into radiotherapy where I was treated and the tumour was blasted into submission - but it left a legacy and my running days were over only to be replaced with daily pain and discomfort. A couple of days after treatment finished my beautiful dog Betsy died and my heart broke. I started to wonder what I had done that was so bad in my life that all of this was now happening to me.
After a routine CT Scan In March 2019 I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer - the culprit was the kidney that was removed. I kind of knew that this was was happening - a person can't have this much bad luck and get away with it. I was treated with Immunotherapy drugs which are the best form of attack for metastatic cancer- if indeed my body could take it. Of course I reacted badly to the drugs and after one cycle I contracted aspect meningitis - this was probably the most frightened I had ever been in my life. I went from very ok physically to very sick literally overnight - I really did think that was it.
I survived (obviously) and my cancer began to spread into my chest - a CT Scan conducted in April 2019 gave me the devastating news that I did indeed have a progressive kidney disease and that it was incurable. Its a funny thing being told such life changing news - it was like the pressure had been taken off my shoulders. I didn't crumble and recess into a black hole - I did the opposite. I embraced the new treatment and with it the new white hair - the constant diarrhoea - the crippling pain in my feet - the lethargy - the bleeding gums and nose bleeds - the loss of taste in my mouth and the general feeling like shit and I said 'fuck it'. I must just move forward and live everyday. Don't get me wrong I wake up most mornings and want to shut myself away - but I'm surrounded by so much love and positive energy that I simply can't. I now know that it will be cancer that will end my life if I'm not caught up in a freak accident or other unfortunate health disaster. But until that day I will fight on and put my faith and trust in the clever people - the wonderful nurses and all the amazing kind people at The Royal Marsden Chelsea who without them my story would have ended by now and the universe would be a Darren down. How shit would that be!