– I will never forget May 20, 2016. Then I discovered blood in my urine. A common sign of bladder cancer, says the 58-year-old from Namsos.
Bladder cancer is the fifth most common form of cancer among men. If he took the signals seriously and went to the doctor first, he would stop a lot of pain and suffering.
Fast and good treatment
Each year, approximately 1,850 Norwegians are diagnosed with bladder cancer and 16,500 are currently living with the disease. Valseth received quick and good treatment when the cancer was first discovered.
– He went away both to my doctor in Namsos and to the St. Olav hospital in Trondheim, he says of the dramatic months of six years ago.
He and his wife planned a trip to London to see Åge Aleksandersen and Sambandet play in the Royal Albert Hall. But she could just forget that trip.
– It was an experience I was looking forward to, but I was too sick to travel. I also didn’t have the joy of seeing my first newborn grandson in the hospital. It was a difficult time.
– I just wanted to die
The chemotherapy treatment that Geir Morten Valseth received in Trondheim was hard on his body. He tells of a memory of him lying curled up on the floor of his house in his own living room.
– I was in so much pain that I just wanted to die. It was absolutely terrible, she says.
The 58-year-old says he was as low as possible. He particularly remembers a telephone conversation with the doctor in Trondheim. He arrived on a Tuesday while he was in the cabin.
– I was standing by the water when he told me how bad the situation was. On the opposite hill, climbing back to the hut, I decided to fight. I had so much in my life to fight for, says Geir Morten six years later.
One dies every day
Ranveig Røtterud of the Bladder Cancer Norway association says that on average one person dies from this type of cancer every day in Norway.
– It is a serious disease that is not talked about much, unfortunately. It’s important that more people become aware of the symptoms, she says.
– Visible blood in the urine is found once or more in approximately 85% of bladder cancer patients. It’s a simple and important way to monitor for possible bladder cancer, she says.
Geir Morten Valseth hopes the big campaign will cause many people to get checked for cancer. Long before himself.
– I’ve waited too long. I noticed some discomfort when I had to pee, but it came and went. I later realized that it is not that common among bladder cancer patients. Only when I found blood in my urine did I go to the doctor, she says.
It took 18 months to recover
Today he is cancer free, but it took a year and a half before he was healthy enough to start working again. He had to have his bladder removed and instead received a replacement bladder made from a piece of his intestine.
– I am so happy to be alive, to have six grandchildren and to be able to go to work every single day. But I have to live with the consequences of bladder cancer every day for the rest of my life.
– Because I can’t pee normally. I have to use a catheter during the day and a uridom with a night bag when I go to sleep. I also have to wash my bladder and, unfortunately, I have urine leaks from time to time. But I’m alive, says the 58-year-old.
Now he asks others who know something is wrong not to wait almost a year, as he did himself.
– Then maybe I would have stopped all the problems I still struggle with. I feel like an idiot for not going to the doctor. But if I can be the last idiot, it’s worth it, Valseth concludes.