Colin O’Sullivan was left with two stomas after the surgery which was the only option for him after being told his muscle-invasive bladder cancer could not be treated with chemo or radiotherapy.’”
Now, he wants to help make a difference for other patients and break the stigma behind topics perceived by many as embarrassing – and is making the most of his skills as a trombonist in the Lytham-based Guardian Concert Band.
He is holding a charity concert by the band to help raise vital awareness and funds for bladder cancer.
It’s at AKS school, Clifton Drive South, St Annes on Sunday, June 19, starting at 2.30pm and will feature popular film theme music, such as Jurassic Park and The Greatest Showman.
Colin’s passion for raising awareness for bladder cancer comes from his own self-confessed ‘sheer lack of knowledge’ and the ignorance that comes from people’s reluctance to discuss subjects like 'wee' and 'poo' when it's something everyone does every day.
“My ignorance and naivety amaze me even now,” he said.
“It is vital people know the symptoms of bladder cancer and get to their GP as soon as they have these symptoms.
"Early diagnosis is critical. It is so important that people do not feel embarrassed to speak about them. Dialogue around bladder cancer and the issues that come with it will make a world of difference.”
Colin, 64, from St Annes, says he was “absolutely floored” when told by doctors two years ago his condition could not be treated with chemo or radiotherapy.
“I still remember it word for word,” says the self-employed decorator.
“Following my operation, I felt complete horror seeing how I looked sporting two new stoma bags, feeling like I'd been hit by a convoy of trucks, not believing I would ever be fit enough to work again and thinking that my role as a husband had been most seriously curtailed.
“Once the brilliant staff at the hospital had worked their magic, I was sent off home to try to get my head around just what had happened and what impact it was going to have on my life going forward.
“The charities Fight Bladder Cancer and Colostomy UK have been immensely helpful to me through my journey.
“Given all the publicity and promotion some other cancer charities receive, I was so surprised at how little I'd been aware of bladder cancer. I thought, what can I do to help?”
“The band’s agreement to do the concert has kicked off a whole new purpose in my life and hope that I can at least still do something useful.”
Dr Lydia Makaroff, chief executive of Fight Bladder Cancer, said: “Bladder cancer is more common than people think, and in many cases – patients hear of bladder cancer for the first time when they receive their diagnosis.
“Especially if you see blood in your urine, see a doctor.”
Shannon Boldon, Fight Bladder Cancer Policy Manager: “Despite how common bladder cancer is, survival has not improved for patients in the last three decades, and public awareness is low.”
Tickets are £10 on the door. Details from 07811 479972.