Former Edinburgh GP shares his experience on living with bladder cancer

A retired Edinburgh GP who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in his early sixties, is aiming to raise awareness about the seldom discussed disease as part of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.

By Neil Johnstone
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 4:55 am

Johnstone Shaw, 67, a fitness fanatic who attended Bannatyne Health Club several times a week, first noticed blood in his urine following a spin class three years ago.

Mr Shaw, drawing on his medical expertise, suspected that he may have bladder cancer and his self-diagnosis was later confirmed by a doctor at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.

After receiving radical treatment and undergoing a urostomy procedure – an operation which allows urine to leave the body without passing through the bladder – alongside emotional support from cancer charity, Maggie’s Centre, Mr Shaw said he now lives a “reasonably normal” life and has praised hospital staff and the Bannatyne community for their help and support.

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Johnstone attends a spin class at Bannatyne's Health Club three times a week.

Mr Shaw, said: “Getting used to having a urostomy took a while, but is a small price to pay.”

The former GP added: “Living with the fear of the cancer recurring rears its head when my regular CT scans happen, but I cope with that more easily than in the early days.

“Support from cancer nurse specialists and Edinburgh’s Maggie's has really helped me live life to the full every day now as it’s important to be positive rather than constantly thinking you’re about to die. That was not easy.”

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Mr Shaw is now back to his regular exercise routine and attends his beloved spin classes three times a week.

He said: “Returning back to exercise was not easy, but my gym buddies at Bannatyne’s have been really supportive, which has been very much appreciated.

“Who knows, my spin cycling coach may have saved my life. As well as, of course, my wonderful bladder cancer surgeon.”

To raise awareness about bladder cancer this month, Johnstone is distributing leaflets that document the causes and available treatments of bladder cancer.

Mr Shaw also hopes to raise money from his efforts as people can donate money via a QR code on the leaflet, with all proceeds going to the Fight Bladder Cancer charity.

Mr Shaw urges anyone showing symptoms of bladder cancer, including finding blood in their urine or regular unitary tract infections to seek medical advice.

He said: “My advice to anyone with symptoms suggestive of bladder cancer is to get sorted asap.”