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Recently Diagnosed and Scared

CathyS8
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2003

Hello All. I have recently been diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer. I am 54, mother of three wonderful children and 2 awesome grandsons. Have completed surgery, removal of tumor and 12 inches of colon. Doctor said he removed 40 nodes, found cancer in 5. I am to begin chemo week of May 6th. Don't know meds yet but someone please tell me what to expect first treament and what side effects chemo for colon cancer are. Oncologist said only effect might be diarrhea. Need support and help from those that have been there. Getting really apprehensive. Thanks to all.

nhmp2000
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi,
My husband was also recently diagnosed with stage 111 colon cancer, underwent surgery, and started his chemo just this past Friday. He was given 3 drugs: 5FU,Leucovorin and CPT11, on the first day, and then sent home with a 46 hour infusion. He faired well with the first treatment, and will have his next one in 2 weeks. No major side effects, but a little constipation (although we expected diarrhea) and very slight fatigue. The doctors are also great and monitoring him closely. He went to work today. Talk to as many people you know who have been though this and keep a very positive attitude. I am confident that he will recover soon and beat this disease. You will too. My prayers are with you.

Ray23
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2003

Hello CathyS8, I'm 52 and have also been recently diagnosed -- with rectal cancer. My treatment begins with chemo and radiation for 5 weeks, rest up for 6 weeks and then have surgery to cut out what is left of the tumor. Since the tumor is close to the opening, they want to shrink it to make the surgery better. I just started the treatment today. My chemo is 5-fluorouracil which is in a little fanny pack I will wear at all times for the next 5 weeks. It's been coursing through my bloodstream for about 5 hours and I haven't felt a thing abnormal. I'm told the side effects are fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and mouth sores. I'm also told that not all people get all the side effects. I'm continuing my normal work routine for as long as possible. My guess is that the chemo you are going to receive is different than mine and has fewer potential side effects. Good luck to you and keep having positive thoughts. I wish you the best possible outcome.

elijah
Posts: 3
Joined: Apr 2003

I was diagnosed with stage III in July. I had 4 positive lymph nodes of 8 removed. I also had about 12 inches of my colon removed. I'm only 35 with a wife and 2 children. My daughter is 7 and my son was born this past December.
The 5fu and leucavorin treatments are really mild compared to some other types of chemo. My hair didn't fall out and my blood count stayed good. I did sometimes feel a little queezy from the leucavorin but nothing major. My cancer is now in remission and I praise God for that. My greatest comfort is knowing that through Christ I've been made whole. I believe and trust in Him and I believe that I'm going to live. However if I don't make it, I'm going to a better place. That is the single most important thing I could possibly say to help you. Trust Christ as your Lord and Savior and He will help you to bear this heavy burden.

vixeny
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2003

Cathy,
I am a woiman,39, and in the middle of six month of Chemo for stage four colon cancer. I am on a chemo Drug called cpt11 along with 5fu.I do have bad diarrhea a few days after the treatments. They will give you anti diarrhea meds before the treatment. They always make me so backed up that the runs are almost a relief! They tell you to take diarrhea meds and home and when I do it stops. I am tierd and sleep alot. I have had small sores in my mouth but nothing bad. I have not lost my hair and my blood work is coming back good every week.(red and white cells are not to low) I am on a blood thinner because I have a port and it makes me a bit sick to my stomach when I take it sometimes but again it's not horriable. It is not as bad as I thought it would be,So far. I do have other people that are in my Dr. group that are much worse off.Alot of people can't do the cpt11 it makes them sick. I hope it will be easy for you but I was prepared for the worst and I got not as bad. I was very scared but let me tell you it isn't forever. I have 5 sessions left. Soon you will be done and moving on with your life. GOOD LUCK

fandaj
Posts: 83
Joined: Apr 2003

I had a colonoscopy on March 19 and then surgery the next day to remove 18 inches of the colon. I will start chemotherapy April 30. I had stage 2 cancer. Call 1-800-4-CANCER and ask them to send you as much information as they have. I got lots of very helpful booklets about what to expect. My oncologist said I may have mouth sores, thinning hair (but not bald), diahrea and most likely fatigue. I recently found this web site and posted a message like yours and got 11 replies. Everyone is so positive. Many have not had any symptoms and some had a few. Since I haven't experienced the first treatment yet, I can't give you too much help, but it seems like if you have any symptoms, it will probably be the day of and the day after treatment. Many people have said they still worked full time. The worst thing is the fear of the unknown. After my first treatment at least I'll know what to expect. As I said before those booklets have lots of helpful information so please request them. Good luck to you. Regards, fandaj

OpaRon
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2003

Cathy, ask them give you a cup of ice chips before each chemo treatment, and keep some in your mouth during the treatment. The cold slows the blood circulation, and the chemicals, to the membranes in the mouth and reduces the occurance of mouth sores. Worked great for me. I had stage 4 in July of 1994, and am doing fine today after surgery, 8 weeks of daily radiation, and 8 months of chemo. The outlook is good, but you must keep a positive attitude. It is not easy, but it is definitely worth the effort.

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi, Cathy -

There is some really GREAT information here! The folks that have already answered your question have hit most of the high points (if you can call them that!)

I was diagnosed with colon cancer 18 months ago, had 1/3 of my colon removed and did 6 months on 5FU and Leukovorin. I had many of the symptoms described below. OpaRon's suggestion about ice chips is a good one, it will reduce the incidence of mouth sores. I got some, too. You can pick up some "Zilactin Oral Swabs" over the counter at your local pharmacy. The swabs have benzocaine in them which will help the soreness go away and the medication in the swab will help heal the sores.

I, too, didn't lose my hair - although it did thin out (or was that because I was pushing 40?). Most folks don't lose their hair on 5FU/Lkv.

I also developed sores/dryness on the soles of my feet and palms of my hands. I used "Body Butter" from Bath & Body Works (I used the "Mango Shea Butter" concoction - didn't know whether to eat it or rub it on). I also used the "Nightime Emolient Cream (or something like that)" from Mary Kay. Both worked great. Just don't give my secret away to my fellow Coast Guard sailors, I'll never live it down.

As for dirrhea/constipation, the treatment affects everyone differently. I got the former. The most important thing you can do is keep yourself hydrated. Drink lots of water!

Finally, you can expect to become increasingly fatigued as your treatments continue. It is normal. Sleep when you need to. Don't be afraid to ask for help from others. Rest, but also exercise - walking is good for you. (In fact walking in an ACS Relay for Life is even better!).

Hang tough and most importantly, Cathy, keep a good attitude. That will be your most important "medicine". If you have any questions feel free to drop a note.

Best regards

- SpongeBob

azsunwmn
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2003

It sounds like you and I have alot in common. I was diagnosed last May with Stage III colorectal cancer. I had surgery last June, went through 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation treatment. The worst part of the chemo was the mouth sores but the suggestion of ice chips worked for me to lessen the effects. After 6 weeks off for the surgery, I continued to work full time during my whole treatment. The best suggestion I have, though, is to let your family and friends support you, keep your faith in God and a positive attitude always. Good luck!!

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1246
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Cathy!

I had pre-surgery chemo and radiation, and also post surgery chemotherapy. I had no side effects other than my hair thinned out a little. And if you didn't know how thick my hair was, you would have never known it was thinning. I never missed a day of work with the exception of the recovery period after surgery. I work roughly 45 hours a week as an auto claim rep...very high stress! All I can tell you is to stay positive, active and you can have smooth sailing. Plus, the thought of your grandkids will totally motivate you. My kids were ages 3, 5, & 8 during my treatments last year, and they never even knew I was sick. Keep your chin up and you'll do just fine! Granted everyone is different...but positive thinking will keep you going through any rough times.

Keep in touch if I can help more,
Stacy

jimmiefrye
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2003

Iwas diagnosed with Stage III the same as you. I had surgery in Feb 2002, followed by chemo & radiation. I also ended up with a colostomy. In any event, I am, and have been, back to work full time. I continue to have Ct's and visits to Docs office. My faith has become stronger in Lord Jesus. It was to big for me so I laid it in his lap. All I can say is to do the same. Good Luck! Jim/Pittsburgh

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