Mary Archer reveals her battle with bladder cancer
The 66-year-old scientist underwent a seven-hour operation to remove the organ and have it replaced with an artificial one.
Archer was diagnosed with the potentially terminal form of cancer last November, but has not spoken publicly about it until now.
Archer, a leading authority on solar energy, said she first realised there was a problem when she discovered blood in her urine. She said: “I want to reassure people that a lot of the time, blood in the urine is a symptom of nothing more serious than an infection. You don’t need to assume the worst.”
However, in her case, it was bad news.
“The tests came back. It was bladder cancer. I was surprised,” she said.
“I have no known risk factors. I’m not male, I don’t smoke, or drink a lot of alcohol.”
One suspected cause of the cancer is her early work teaching chemistry at various universities including Cambridge. She said: “My time as a chemist in my formative years could have been a factor because of the products I worked with.
“There are various grades of the cancer: low, medium and high. I was diagnosed with aggressive high-grade bladder cancer, but it had been caught at an early stage.
“I was lucky. I was suitable for an operation that had a high probability of being curative.”
Archer was given a course of immunotherapy, which encourages the body’s own immune defence cells to destroy cancer cells, but it did not stave off the cancer for long.
She then choose a radical operation rather than face undergoing a debilitating course of chemotherapy and drug treatment.
“It is a formidable operation for the surgeon, let alone the patient,” she said.
“They told me they would remove the diseased bladder and create a new one from my small intestine.”
Speaking of her husband, a former deputy leader of the Conservative party who was convicted of perjury and jailed for four years in 2001, she added: “He has had a roller-coaster life and so I have learned to cope with crises and ups-and-downs, but I do love Jeffrey very much indeed.
“I don’t stand by him because of a sense of duty. I do it because I want to.”