‘I was often dismissed’: Mother who survived bladder cancer while pregnant calls on MSPs to do more

A mother who survived bladder cancer while six months pregnant is calling on the Scottish Government to provide more funding for the condition as 62 per cent of those diagnosed die prematurely as a result of their illness.

Danielle Marr was diagnosed with the condition three years ago after the consultant noticed a small growth during a cardiac ultrasound on her baby daughter in the womb.

The 28-year-old, clinical administrator says GPs often dismiss the potential for bladder cancer in younger people and women believing symptoms like blood in the urine could be a sign of something less serious.

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Ms Marr, whose daughter Zara is now three, is part of a group of campaigners planning a series of events throughout Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, including a rally outside the Scottish Parliament this Saturday.

Danielle Marr at home with 2 year old daughter, Zara . Picture: Neil Hanna

They are also in contact with the charity Fight Bladder Cancer UK, who are looking to set up in Scotland.

She said: “We wrote to MPs and MSPs asking for more funding and more awareness.

“For me I was quite often dismissed because I had recurrent urinary tract infections and I was pregnant.

“So for me it was pregnancy but for a lot of women things like blood in their urine can be mistaken for menstrual symptoms. A lot of people are saying that nine out of ten cases of bladder cancer are in people over the age of 55 but what about raising awareness for the younger people”.

Ms Marr, from Bo’ness, still goes for regular check-ups every three months at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and yearly scans.

She added: “I’ve not had any recurrence and the check-ups have been fine – I’ll get check-ups for a long time because my cancer was high grade. It was grade 3 so there’s a high chance it can come back – about 70 to 80 per cent, so fingers crossed that it doesn’t.

“So, technically I am cancer free for nearly four years now.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working to increase early diagnosis of all types of cancer - including bladder cancer. That is why we have updated the Scottish Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancer in February 2019 to help ensure clinicians have access to the most up-to-date evidence to refer patients with symptoms suspicious of cancer onto the right pathway at the right time.

“The guidelines will also help identify patients who are unlikely to have cancer, embedding safety netting as a diagnostic support tool – meaning patients are followed up in an appropriate way, even if a test is negative.

“We are also investing over £100 million from our National Cancer Strategy and we have committed more than £1m to health boards and third sector organisations since 2016 through our Health Inequalities Fund to tackle variations in early detection rates.”