A PATIENT has praised the “unbelievable” life saving surgery at a cancer centre which could be closed.

Binman Stuart Vernon became only the second person to have a special type of keyhole surgery to remove his bladder and prostate at Colchester General Hospital.

Less than a week later he is already preparing to return home, but not before joining the campaign to keep the surgery in Colchester, Stuart, 54, of Sauls Avenue, Witham, has worked the bin rounds for Braintree Council for 30 years.

Happy and healthy, he became worried in December when he noticed blood in his urine. His worst fears were realised when a cancerous tumour was discovered in his bladder.

One operation and chemotherapy followed before the decision was taken to remove the organs by a laparoscopic cystoprostatectomy.

Mr Vernon said: “When you first hear the word tumour, you take a step back.

“It was a relief when I found out it had not spread, but I was told it had to be removed.

“It was reassuring to find out I would be getting a new type of surgery.

“With all these technological advances, it just gets better and better.

“The chemo was terrible, but everything here has been superb.

“The next day after the operation I could sit in a chair and the day after I was walking.

“This was major surgery. It is unbelievable and all the staff are amazing.

“They have got to keep this centre open.

“A few years ago I could have been a goner, but now I will be home in a week.”

Rajiv Pillai, the consultant urological surgeon, explained the benefits of the new surgery.

He said: “This minimally invasive surgery means better outcomes for patients.

“The recovery is better and there is less pain.

“It is more complex, but it is a big development.

“It is all about teamwork, from the nurses to the anaethetists to the surgeons.

“It is important to have the surgery here not just for the local population, but the whole of Essex because this surgery benefits everyone.”

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence produced guidelines stating there should only be one specialist cancer centre per one million people.

Essex currently has two urological surgery centres, in Colchester and Southend, meaning one could be shut.

Mr Vernon said: “It is better not having to travel miles.

“The surgery here is unbelievable and so are the staff.

“My friends are able to visit and it makes everything so much easier.

“I have benefited so much and it needs to stay open.”

Mr Vernon also thanked his friends and Braintree Council for all their support during the past six months.

  • THE Gazette is campaigning to keep urological cancer surgery in Colchester.

To support the campaign, send in the coupon or email us at newsdesk.gazette@nqe.com or go to the Gazette website to print off your own petition form.