A YOUNG man has opened up about how he was diagnosed with an incurable cancer after noticing something odd when he was drunk.
Phil Dobson, 26, said he was battling to urinate while he was on a getaway in Scotland with his girlfriend Holly Nolan.
But, because he’d been “drinking alcohol all day”, Phil put his struggles down to the booze in his system.
However, the Northumberland man was still unable to pass urine when he’d sobered up and returned home so raced to A&E.
Then, after countless tests, Phil was devastatingly told he had a rare, incurable cancer.
He said the issues first started in July, 2021, when he was just 24.
Phil said: “On the second day of the trip, I started having trouble passing urine.
“I felt like I always needed a wee, but nothing was coming out. I thought nothing of it because I had been drinking alcohol throughout the day and I thought I might be bloated.
“But on the train on the way home, I was sweating badly and couldn’t sit still due to the pain in my bladder.
“As soon as we got home to Newcastle, I went straight to A&E.”
Phil said he was initially told he had a UTI, and was given medication for that.
But, when the symptoms didn’t improve he went back for more tests – and was again told nothing else was wrong.
Then, the following month, Phil went back to the doctor.
During the check-up a lump was found on his prostate, and he was rushed to hospital.
It was there that Phil was told he had a tumour.
He explained: “The staff tried to get me to pass urine, but I couldn’t do it at all.
“They put a catheter in me and drained my bladder. About two litres of urine was drained from me – a normal bladder should only hold around 500ml.
“I was in a lot of pain because my kidneys weren’t passing urine. They did a scan and discovered it was a tumour.”
He was then told a rare type of cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Doctors have now told him it is incurable – Phil recalled: “I was devastated.
“I had family in the past who had passed away after cancer. I was determined and hoped that youth would be on my side.
“Naturally, my family was devastated too. I was so healthy, did lots of exercise, and had no previous medical conditions.”
I thought nothing of it because I had been drinking alcohol throughout the day.
Since the diagnosis, Phil has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment at Freeman Hospital.
He said: “The consultant said told me that they think the tumour is incurable, but the maintenance chemo can control it and make sure it’s not coming back.
“I have decided to just live the best life I can. I moved in with my girlfriend earlier this year and we got a dog, which has kept me busy and has been a really great thing for me to look forward to. I also went back to work at BT in July.”
Phil is now also working alongside Teenager Cancer Trust and joined the charity on its plight to raise awareness of the main signs of cancer in young people.
He said their support had been unwavering throughout his illness.
Phil said: “Teenage Cancer Trust helped me so much.
“A teenage and young adult clinical nurse specialist on my unit explained what was going to happen to me when I was diagnosed with cancer. It was such a confusing time, but her support was amazing.
“It’s difficult when you worry that you are wasting a GP’s time, but if you know that something is wrong, don’t hesitate to get it checked.”
Dr Louise Soanes, chief nurse at the Teenage Cancer Trust, said the charity is calling on the Government to run a public awareness campaign for cancers experienced by young people.
She said: “It can be scary to think about cancer, particularly if you’re a young person, but it can happen to anyone of any age.
“Always listen to your body and if you have concerns never be afraid to seek help – the likelihood is that it isn’t cancer, but it’s always best to check.”
What is rhabdomyosarcoma?
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type of soft tissue sarcoma that grows in active muscles of the body.
They are extremely rare – about 3,300 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK.
These are muscles we control (for example, to move arms or legs).
The most common places for rhabdomyosarcoma are the head, neck, bladder, vagina, arms, legs and trunk of the body.
Very rarely, rhabdomyosarcoma can also be found in other places, such as in the prostate gland, middle ear and bile duct system.
There are three types of rhabdomyosarcoma which affect different age groups:
- Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. Most common in young children, often appears in the head and neck region and especially in tissues around the eye
- Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Tends to occur in older children and adolescents, occures more often in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen
- Pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma. Typically occurs in middle-aged people; for unknown reasons it’s slightly more common in men than women
What are the symptoms:
- a lump that you can see or feel
- blockage or discharge from the nose
- changes in swallowing
- changes in hearing
- swollen eye
- pain in the stomach
- difficulty passing stools
- blood in your pee
- vaginal discharge
- needing to pee more often