Glen Long’s wife Laura made his appointment to see the GP after he noticed a slight change to the colour of his urine after using the toilet – he credits her with saving his life
A man has credited his wife with saving his life after she urged him to see a doctor about worrying symptoms.
Glen Long, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2019, is backing the ‘Be the Early Bird’ campaign to highlight the importance of getting unusual, persistent symptoms checked. The 48 year old admitted things could have been very different for him had his wife Laura not made him an appointment to see his GP.
The father of two is now seizing every opportunity to enjoy life, recently celebrating his silver wedding anniversary and has even walked the West Highland Way with friends to raise money for charity Fight Bladder Cancer. The ‘Be the Early Bird’ campaign highlights the benefits of finding cancer at an earlier stage when there’s more treatment options available, a greater likelihood of living well after treatment and better news to tell the family.
Targeting those aged 40 and over, the campaign reinforces the fact that GP practices want to know if people have unusual, persistent symptoms, which could include unexplained bleeding, unusual lumps, unexplained weight loss or something that doesn’t feel normal for them.
Glen’s GP appointment led to him being referred for a series of tests at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. As bladder cancer has a high recurrence rate, Glen was monitored every three months, with further surgery required in 2021 to remove a tumour so small that no further chemotherapy was needed.
Glen, a forklift instructor and storeman, said: “I remember noticing my pee was darker and when I turned the light on, there was blood in the toilet. I just thought it was an infection and kind of brushed it off, but my wife Laura said it wasn’t normal and I needed to get it checked straight away.
“Even when my GP referred me for an ultrasound I didn’t think anything of it. I then needed a flexible cystoscopy which involved a tiny camera going into my bladder through my urethra which wasn’t the most pleasant, but it wasn’t painful.
“When I was told that the consultant needed to speak to me, I twigged the news might not be great. The only thing I heard him saying was ‘tumour’ and ‘cancer’. After that I can’t remember a thing, it was like white noise. I genuinely thought it was an infection as I didn’t feel ill or sick and had no fatigue.
“They were able to remove the whole tumour which was such a relief. I consider myself very fortunate I had that symptom and did something about it as things could have gone on a very different path. I can honestly say that my treatment was virtually pain free and I was fortunate to have had no side effects from the chemotherapy.
“When I was told the tumour had returned I felt more confident as I knew they were on top of things and it had been caught early again. My last scan was clear and if the next one in a couple of months is clear, I’ll move to annual scans which will be another step forward.”
Glen added: “I can’t really explain it but I look at things so differently. It’s like a new lease of life. I feel reborn, like I’ve been given another chance. Even though I’m still regularly monitored, I don’t even really think about it now. If people ask me about it, I’ll tell them, but I’m definitely not dwelling on it.
“It’s probably my wife that saved my life. I know I wouldn’t have made that appointment as quickly. I’d have done the usual and thought that it would have been alright, but now I know the importance of early diagnosis.
“You know your body and if something doesn’t feel right for you, make an appointment with your GP practice. If it turns out to be cancer, finding it early is so important and there’s more they can do to treat it. Having that peace of mind is priceless.”
Dr Carey Lunan, GP said: “Finding and treating cancer as early as possible is a priority for the NHS in Scotland. If you have unusual, persistent symptoms that you’re worried about, we would encourage you to get in touch with your GP practice. Your initial appointment may be over the phone, but we’ll always ask you to come in for a face-to-face appointment if an examination or tests are needed.
“Please don’t delay contacting your GP practice, as there’s more we can do to help if cancer is found at an earlier stage.” People can find out more about possible cancer symptoms at getcheckedearly.org