Tracey Emin, 57, reveals her bladder cancer has ‘gone’ after series of harrowing surgeries a year after being diagnosed with ‘really, really aggressive’ form of the disease
- Emin, 57, was diagnosed early last year after discovering a tumour in her bladder
- She surgery last summer, when many of her reproductive organs were removed
- She reached a ‘big, big milestone’ and last week three-monthly scans were ‘clear’
Artist Tracey Emin has revealed her cancer has ‘gone’ after she underwent surgery.
The 57-year-old was diagnosed early last year after discovering a tumour in her bladder while working on a painting of a malignant lump.
She had surgery last summer, when many of her reproductive organs were removed and she was fitted with a stoma bag.
Emin told Newsnight she has reached a ‘big, big milestone’ and last week her three-monthly scans were ‘all clear’.
In an interview set to air on Friday, she told the programme: ‘I’m not painting because I’m using my willpower to stay alive. That’s what I’m doing.’
The 57-year-old was diagnosed early last year after discovering a tumour in her bladder while working on a painting of a malignant lump
She had surgery last summer, when many of her reproductive organs were removed and she was fitted with a stoma bag
WHAT IS BLADDER CANCER?
Bladder cancer is caused by a tumour developing in the lining of the bladder or the organ’s muscle.
Around 10,200 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year and 81,400 people in the US, according to figures.
It is the 10th most common cancer in the UK – but a little more prevalent in the US – and accounts for about three per cent of all cases.
The cancer is more common in men and has a 10-year survival rate of about 50 per cent. Around half of cases are considered preventable.
Symptoms of the disease include blood in the urine, needing to urinate more often or more urgently than normal and pelvic pain.
However, unexpected weight loss and swelling of the legs can also be signs of the killer disease.
Smoking and exposure to chemicals in plastics and paints at work can increase the risk of getting bladder cancer.
Treatment varies depending on how advanced the cancer is, and may include surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Source: NHS Choices
Emin, best known for works such as her unmade bed and the tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, added she hoped to return to painting in the future.
‘I never realised how much I wanted to live until I thought I was going to die,’ she said.
Emin said she will now move to annual cancer scans. In October last year the artist said she hoped to ‘get past Christmas’ following the cancer diagnosis.
She found she had a tumour in her bladder in June and was suffering with very aggressive squamous cell cancer, which surgeons feared would kill her in months if it spread to her lymph nodes.
As a result, a decision was made to remove not only her bladder but also her uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, lymph nodes, urethra and part of her colon and vagina.
Prior to the surgery, Miss Emin said she stayed up for 24 hours with her solicitor rewriting her will before sending an email to 70 friends breaking the news of her cancer and instructing them: ‘Do not contact me’.
She has been left with a stoma bag as a result of having ‘half my body chopped out’ and is sadly still struggling to paint.
But it did not stop Miss Emin from feeling ‘very happy’, explaining in December: ‘I‘m doing brilliant, I’m doing so well.
‘I’m so happy and I’m just taking every day as it comes and I’m just so happy to be alive because there was quite a strong expectation that I wasn’t going to make it through Christmas.
‘And I am going to make it to Christmas and the next Christmas and the next one.
‘That’s what I’m aiming for, so I’m feeling really happy and good and I just wish the world would get better. I wish the world would catch up with me on this one.’
Miss Emin continued: ‘It could’ve been very, very different so I’m so grateful. My surgeon and the team are calling me a miracle woman because I just sort of like jumped up and got back into everything.
‘Maybe at the beginning a little bit too fast… because I was back in bed for a month again. But now I’m balancing things and being more cautious.
‘I want to live forever. I want to do my art, I want to have more exhibitions, there’s things to do… and I had to think ‘I’m not going to be doing it’. I had to come to terms with that.’
Highlights of Tracey Emin’s career
1995, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-95: This piece first brought Tracey Emin to wider fame, both in the art world and among the general public
1999, My Bed: The piece is Emin’s record of several days spent in bed in the grip of depression. The bed is unmade and the sheets are stained. All around are strewn a variety of items such as condoms, contraceptive pills, underwear stained with menstrual blood, money, and cigarette ends. The work was nominated for the Turner prize in 1999 and received a hugely mixed response from the public and press
2001, The Perfect Place to Grow: This work pays homage to the artist’s Turkish Cypriot father who, she says, is a fantastic gardener but a terrible carpenter. It consists of a wooden birdhouse-like structure on wooden stilts
2004, Hate and Power Can be a Terrible Thing: This appliquéd blanket work is a blistering attack Margaret Thatcher, and her participation in the Falklands War of 1982
2011, I Promise To Love You: In the 2000s, Emin began working extensively with neon lighting. These works feature words and phrases in her handwriting. Pictured, 2011’s neon sculpture I Promise To Love You