UCARE advocates can be anyone affected by urological cancer and are often someone with a urological cancer diagnosis, a partner, or carer, of all ages, gender and background.
Their common ground is that they want to use their experience to see better outcomes for people with urological cancer by becoming part of the UCARE team.
I was first diagnosed in 2004, around about March and I was first in remission on August 26th that year. That lasted until 2007, then 2013 then 2016. There’s been an inevitability to it that means cancer has shaped a design on my life as indelibly as a tattoo. For 13 years, that’s over a quarter of my life, I have lived with Cancer. UCARE was founded by the oncologist that has treated me all this time.
Bel and Ken Appleby
What do you do when members of your family are diagnosed with cancer? Put your arms around them and be there with them through the process of diagnosis, treatment review and consideration of recommendations and options available. Read and research the information available on treatment options and outcomes to help them make an informed decision on their preferred treatment route and support them through treatment and recovery.
Our youngest daughter, Kay, was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer in June 2015, one of the silent cancers which can be picked up in the early stages through the cervical screening tests which are made available to women. She had cancelled smear tests because she was too busy, had meetings to go to etc. Thankfully, this was picked up by her GP who insisted she should have a smear test. Fortunately, the cancer cells were removed after three attempts, and she is undergoing six monthly checks under the care of the Churchill Hospital.
My husband Ken was diagnosed with intermediate Prostate Cancer in January 2016. Another silent cancer that can be detected in the early stages through a simple PSA blood test ... but this test has to be requested and is not automatically available to men. Ken was on medication for an enlarged prostate diagnosed three years earlier because of restricted urine flow, but his last PSA test was 18 months earlier. Suspected blood in urine (beetroot!!) resulted in PSA check and subsequent biopsy. Recommended treatment was Radiotherapy and Hormone Therapy, but robotic surgery to remove his prostate was also an option. After further research and consideration, Ken opted for the Prostatectomy, which was successful, and his recovery was amazing. The Churchill Urology Team have been fantastic from first diagnosis, surgery and follow up checks and treatments.
Ah, the beetroot story.... at a birthday meal in November 2015 I had a beetroot starter, and a couple of days later experienced what I thought might be “blood in my urine” … quick trip to the doctors, urine test subsequently confirmed no blood in urine but not having had a PSA test for some time my GP decided to have a check. A high PSA level of 7.5. Referred for Prostate Biopsy … cancer diagnosed!!! I had no symptoms, felt good and for a 71 year old guy, fairly fit thanks to swimming every morning and at least two rounds of golf every week.
The recommended option was radiotherapy and hormone therapy, didn't fancy that so, after exploring the other options available, I opted for keyhole robotic surgery to remove my prostate. Had the operation in the February at The Churchill Hospital. All went well, in on the Monday afternoon and home the following day. I now have regular six monthly PSA checks and get results of less than 0.01, great!!
UCARE puts lots of energy into educating we fellows who really should get checks more often, and the money they raise helps to fund valuable research into treatment of Testicular, Bladder, Kidney, Prostate and Penile Cancers.
I didn't know anything was wrong, ah, the beetroot!!!
Both Kay and Ken were lucky to have their cancers detected… but both cancers could have been detected earlier with the tests that are available. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, and 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by cervical screening. Urological cancers account for 1 in 3 of all cancers in men and 1 in 5 of all cancers in men and women.
We need to see an improvement in the detection of these cancers. UCARE is committed to raising awareness of all urological cancers that affect the kidney, bladder, prostate, testicles or penis, and supporting high quality research.
My kidney cancer diagnosis in 2010 was followed by two major operations to remove a kidney and later part of my lung. Thanks to the fantastic team at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, I'm fit and well.
That allows me to support cancer charities including UCARE. My own experience means I'm aware of the importance of early diagnosis, particularly among men with symptoms who are reluctant to admit anything is wrong.
I was 28 when first diagnosed with testicular cancer. I was operated on and assumed all was well until 2 years later when a scan showed the cancer had crept through to a lymph node next to my kidney, which led to a successful treatment via chemotherapy.
This truly life-changing experience tested me and all those close to me; however, it did bring me into contact with the wonderful family that is UCARE and the amazing work it is doing to help people who receive the same news as I did.
It is so important we do what we can to raise awareness and find better ways to treat cancer for those affected in the future.
I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer when I was 40 years old, which led to the removal of my right kidney and a large tumour. Three years later a reoccurrence in my lung saw further surgery.
I understand the physical effects of cancer more than most but also understand the distressing affect it has had on my wife, two teenage sons, wider family, friends and colleagues.
Knowing that UCARE funds cutting edge research gives me, and many other people, enormous hope for the future.
Jean's involvement with UCARE arose from gratitude for her husband's care and also her realisation that low public awareness of urological cancers affects both early diagnosis and the raising of funds for life-saving research. She had no fundraising experience but has found that “doors open unexpectedly”. She would encourage anyone with experience of urological cancers, indirect or direct, to become involved as “though it might not necessarily seem so, we all have something to offer”.
Testicular cancer (TC) crept up and tapped me on the shoulder, well actually it was a fair bit lower down than that, in autumn 2007 at the late age of 56. Five plus years have now passed under the fantastic care and support of the Urology (Jeremy Noble) and Oncology (Andrew Protheroe) teams at Churchill Hospital.
TC is always seen as a 'Young Mans cancer' but it just goes to show guys, you're never too old to stop the regular self-check.
Since diagnoses, in my own small way, I attempt to raise awareness on the subject of TC in schools & colleges Art Department Life Drawing sessions and where possible raise add any donated cash to the UCARE cause. Check your nads lads!
Become a UCARE Advocate
If you are interested to find out how you can help, please do get in touch.
There are lots of ways to be involved:
- Campaign for UCARE
- Joining us at a UCARE event so that guests can chat and share your experiences
- Speak about UCARE at an event
- Attend cheque giving events and say thank you on our behalf
- Writing pieces for our newsletters and web site
- Helping review UCARE material
- Letting us know how we can improve
- Act as an ambassador for the charity
You don't need any special skills, just a willingness to campaign on our behalf. However, if there are any skills you feel that we could benefit from, please do let us know. If you can't attend events, can't travel very far, or do not feel confident speaking, there are still things you could help us with as mentioned above. We will let you know what's coming up and different opportunities where you can help us. We will supply you with information, guidance and support you will need about the charity and any event that you will attend.