BLADDER cancer was the last thing on anyone's mind when Danielle Marr was first referred for scans in 2015.

Aged just 25 at the time and five months pregnant with her first child, she seemed far to young for a disease largely diagnosed in over-75s and which affects more men than women.

Read more: First new drug for advanced bladder cancer in 25 years

Loading article content

Ms Marr, a hospital admin worker from Winchburgh, near Edinburgh, had been suffering recurrent urinary tract infections and had complained to her GP of "niggly pain". The symptoms were dismissed until, during a routine 20-week scan, her radiologist spotted something that was initially suspected to be a possible heart defect her her developing baby.

She was urgently referred for a foetal cardiac scan.

She said: “Nothing was even mentioned about my bladder, but it was during that scan – which was quite a detailed scan obviously to look at my unborn baby’s heart – that the consultant said to me ‘have you been having any problems with your bladder?’. I thought ‘yes, I have – can you actually tell me something’s going on, because I thought I was being crazy’.

“Everything moved really fast - the NHS was fabulous. I think because I was pregnant, they rushed everything through. That day I got another two scans but they still couldn’t decipher what it was.”

Read more: Smoke from e-cigarettes 'may cause cancer'

She was referred for a cystoscopy to examine the inside of her bladder.

She said: “I could see it on the screen. It’s hard to describe but it almost looked like a mini bunch of grapes. They were still saying that they were sure it was nothing to worry about, but they took a biopsy and it was the week after that that I was told it was cancer.

“It was a complete shock. It was in no one’s mind the entire time. They just thought it was a growth or a polyp – cancer was never mentioned.”

The tumour was picked up before it had spread, meaning Ms Marr avoided radiotherapy or chemotherapy. However, she had to wait until she was 27 weeks pregnant before undergoing surgery to remove it in order to limit the risk of harm to her baby.

Read more: Diabetes drug linked to increased risk of bladder cancer

She said: "They gave me steroid injections so that if she was delivered early she’d have the best chance of surviving. I remember coming to afterwards and I had to see a midwife so that she could check the baby was still moving. I just remember thinking ‘please don’t let her have been harmed’.”

In the end, Ms Marr gave birth to a health baby girl on November 13 2015 and is currently cancer-free. However, she has been told that there is a 70 to 80 per cent chance it will recur because the original tumour was "high-risk".

She has check ups every three to four months and is keen to raise awareness of the disease, especially among young people. In 2017, she raised £1000 for the charity Action Bladder Cancer.

She added: "If I hadn’t been pregnant at the time then no one would have thought to check me for bladder cancer because I was only 25. It’s almost as if she came at exactly the right moment. She saved my life really.”