I decided to start this blog so that I can let anyone who is interested know how I’m doing, without being a downer if they don’t want to know the details. There are probably hundreds of other blogs like this but this is mine, and I’d like to share, so that people I love don’t have to be frightened and can do something before it gets bad.
I have colo-rectal cancer which seems to have come out of the blue – the last couple of months, literally. Classic (I’m told) symptoms are mucous in stools. Unfortunately I wasn’t given to studying such things. When the weird feeling of having diarhoea and being constipated at the same time kicked in, I woke up to the possibility something was up in there. (The vodka soaked pineapple chunks in my niece’s 21st punch were a relief of note!)
But it doesn’t come out of the blue. The oncologist told us that this kind of cancer is:
- genetic – I probably should have asked for a colonoscopy as soon as the surgeon who treated my dad told us that this is the case.
- doubles its mass every 200 days
Which means that as my friend, Karen says, this mofo has been there for 2 years. Which begs the question – how could I have known, if I’d known what to look for? Well, needing to have a nap after work before doing evening things at home might have been a clue. That started about two years ago I think. I’ve always been pretty hyperactive, but I thought it was just natural tiredness from studying, working and exercising too hard. I did check it out with my excellent GP and the blood tests showed hypothyroidism so I went onto Eltroxin. Later I thought the tiredness was to do with menopause and started with hrt which made me feel better for a while.
I kept getting flu even though I’d had the flu injection – I guessed that I was having a milder form of whatever the flu virus de jour was. How the colon affects the shnoz is a mystery, but apparently it is so. Pains in the buttocks and down the leg also, are not always from a bad back or sciatica. These things grow and press on nerves.
So three weeks ago, I went to my excellent GP and told her my fascinating bowel symptoms – she had me scheduled for a colonoscopy in days. Two weeks ago, the surgeon found a growth – adeno-carcinoma in situ said the report. He showed me the photo which showed me a blob on some jelly. (I’d recognise it anywhere!) And he pointed me in the direction of my oncologist who is an expert in this kind of growth in the bowel. He couldn’t see me for a week, scary how busy oncologists and radiographers are. I won’t go into the details of the exam, that happened on Monday, but he didn’t think that this was an early tumour. He and his team managed to get me scheduled for an MRI and liver ultrasound on Wednesday. (I’ve had tenderness under my sternum for a while – he picked it up and wanted it checked out. I thought it was the leftovers from the last bout of bronchitis.)
The oncologist showed us the pictures of the tumour in detail straight after we got the MRI pictures on CD. It’s a weird perspective looking at your own insides and not a generic “female body”. He described the classic ‘apple core’ shape of the tumour, basically the tumour in the bowel is the bit of the apple that has been eaten and the core is the passage remaining.
He then described the treatment plan likely to give the best results: 5 weeks of chemo and radiotherapy. First and last week were proposed to be chemo and radiation, and the middle the radiation. His team of radiographers were incredibly kind explaining what might happen, what Pat could do to help, and how to deal with things. We felt quite good about having a plan and action to take. The idea was that they’d do the ‘treatment markup’ tomorrow (basically drawing the targets on my body) and that next week the surgeon would insert the chemo ‘port’ below my collarbone so I don’t have to be injected and sit around with a drip for hours. It looked then like I’d be starting the therapy around Halloween, which I thought quite apt.
But then there was the ultrasound of my liver. While I was having it the radiographer had commented that she thought she could see cancer ‘seeds’ – which scared me witless. At the time the oncologist spoke to us he hadn’t seen the ultrasound report.
He got that this morning and asked that I come in today for a CT scan of pelvis and liver – wanting more detail. I was to get the report from the CT scan and see him straight afterwards. Except that the day ran out of hours. So we’re seeing him tomorrow at 11 to hear what’s up. It was a bit of a downer day.
So that’s the history of the last three weeks done. I hope it is informative data wise – though I know that it doesn’t cover the emotional rollercoaster yet. Hopefully when I’ve had time to reflect it will all make some kind of sense.