Derek Brooker

My/Our Story


November 28th 2015 was to be our Golden Wedding Anniversary.  Being keen cyclists we started to make plans to repeat a cycle trip that, on tandem, we had done once before in 1996.  This was to ride from Narbonne on the Mediterranean coast of France home.  A trip of 941 miles over three weeks.  Cycling for 16 days.  This meant we covered about 100k (60m) each day.  We stayed primarily in Logis Hotels.

 And so it was in November 2014 we started looking at the routes.  At the outset we planned to take longer covering only around 40-50 miles daily.  Then came the first indication of my “little problem” in that I peed what looked like red wine.

 A visit to the GP resulted in a quick referral to the RBH.  17th November was the date of the initial operation - a tumour biopsy.  Doctor I spoke to after surgery said I was just unlucky – having been a lifelong non-smoker and never having worked with hazardous materials.

 After an appointment with Mr Charlesworth on 10th December 2014, we decided to follow his advice to have 3 chemotherapy treatments prior to surgery as a “belt & braces”.  These three treatments I found to be very straight forward (apart from the 8 hours in the treatment chair each time).  I had no side effects (other than hair loss).  I was able to cycle and live a normal life with regard to everything else.

 Like many others before me I guess I looked up the possible options on the internet and it was as a result of this I decided to opt for a neo-bladder if at all possible.  At around this time I joined the Bladder Cancer Support Group and was extremely grateful to speak to members who had undergone surgery.

 Mr Charlesworth thought a neo-bladder operation was the way to go, I am not sure exactly when the suggestion that this be performed robotically was first breached, but I do remember being all for it.  This was to be the first robotic neo bladder operation performed at the RBH.

 The operation, carried out by Mr Charlesworth and Mr Hadway under the proctorship of Professor Annerstedt from Sweden, went ahead on 27th March 2015.  I went into surgery at 9.00am and I remember “coming to” at 9.45 it took a few moments to realise it was 9.45pm.  Mr Charlesworth meanwhile rang Anne at about 5.00pm to let her know all had gone well.  I was in ICU but felt good with no real pain I had a morphine pump but didn't need it.  However when I tried to move I soon realised how radical the surgery had been.  Prior to surgery I had worked at keeping my fitness levels up and could do 20-30 sit ups, after I could not do one!

 After spending a number of days in hospital I was discharged home on 7th April.  This was to be quite a challenge.  I felt not at all well and complained of being cold the whole time and it culminated in admittance back to Hopkins Ward via A&E on 17th April after developing a serious UTI.  I remained there until 26th April.  Thanks to the nurses on my 74th birthday on 25th April I had chocolate cake while they sang “Happy Birthday”.

 Once home I soon began to understand my recovery would not be straightforward.

 Progress was very slow (I was impatient) walks around the garden, then around the village and finally back on my bike.  Initially cycling nearly 20 miles – this was in June/July.

 At the end of July another UTI had be in bed for two days but antibiotics soon cleared it up.

 Soon after at an appointment with Mr Charlesworth to discuss a scan he noticed that the left kidney was not draining properly.  He suggested a non-surgical intervention and hence in late August a stent was inserted. 

 Mid-September saw Anne and I “enjoying” a week’s cycling in France.  It was wet and windy, but we did manage 30 miles or so a day with garden visits.

 In early October back to the RBH for a stent removal with cycstoscope – this was not successful after 20 minutes of trying the doctor said removal would be under general anaesthetic would be the next step.  Mid October after pre-op and admission to ADSU Mr Shah decided to try again with the cycstoscope with fall back to general anaesthetic if not successful.  Fortunately he did succeed.

 A subsequent scan indicated my kidney was still not functioning correctly.  Two days before Christmas 2015 I saw Mr Charlesworth again and following discussions with him I had a decision to make:

                      •  Do nothing and gamble on the kidney continuing to function.

                      •  Have an operation to hopefully correct the issue – this would be a complex procedure                       •  Have a stent fitted probably a lifelong procedure as it would need to be replaced every 4-6 months.

 In mid-February 2016 I had the first lifelong stent fitted under local anaesthetic and meant only an overnight stay in Hopkins.

I am now feeling fully fit and plan a cycling challenge in June 2016.

This challenge is a national event organised by UK Cycling (was CTC) it is open to members over fifty years of age, I will be seventy five.

It involves cycling 100 miles in less than 12 hours. Anne and I have done this ride twice before in 1998 and 2001.

So all being well I hope to manage this, after all the challenge of my bladder cancer was greater.




Sunday June 19th 2016 turned out to be an almost perfect day for cycling. Temperature mid to high teens and not too much wind.


The start of this ride was from Islip (just north of Oxford). Total number of riders was 84.


I knew this ride would be a challenge and so it proved to be the first 60 or so miles was in the Cotswold’s hence quite undulating. The last part was in flatlands of South Oxfordshire.


The ride was eventful as in addition to cycling, my tool kit was required in helping another cyclist put his chain back together after it broke.  Later this same chap became so exhausted to the point were he fell off onto a verge and clearly could not complete the last 20 miles.


But all in all a really good day, although I have enjoyed Fathers Day in less strenuous ways before.

Derek Brooker



I knew this ride would be a challenge and so it proved to be the first 60 or so miles was in the Cotswold’s hence quite undulating. The last part was in flatlands of South Oxfordshire.