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help with coping

kellydinniss
Posts: 16
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi all-my husband aged 31 has just been diagnosed very unexpectedly with rectal cancer with no family history. We are both doctors which makes coping very difficult as I suppose we see the worst case scenarios after this sort of diagnosis. He is due to start chemo/radiotherapy next week followed by surgery 6 weeks later. He appears to be coping quite well but at present I am struggling-I am pregnant expecting our first baby in May and keep fearing for the future and what will happen to us.Do you have any tips firstly how to get through the chemo/radiotherapy in one piece and how we can both get through this and live with the uncertainty that cancer brings with it.

jgomez's picture
jgomez
Posts: 25
Joined: Nov 2003

Kelly, please understand my english is not so good, but I'll try to tell you my situation.

I was operated of the colon in March 2001 when I was 35 years old. I went through chemo for 6 months.
At that time I had two kids. Boy of 2 and a half years and a girl of one year old. The sessions of chemo I had to leave my kids with my mother in law for one day to relax and not to be bothered.
I recomend you to highly support your husband, be patient and try to understand what your husband is goin through.
I very thankful to my wife for her support, because I know that I would have not done this alone.

PS By june we're expecting another kid.

bryancarson's picture
bryancarson
Posts: 47
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Kelly, I was diagnosed at the age of 29 with stage three colon cancer and everyone in my family is in the medical field too, doctors and nurses. I had a colectomy surgery and a temporary colostomy followed by six months of chemo. Although life was difficult and I didn't get to do everything I wanted to, I still worked, had a social life, and made the most of a horrible situation. You guys are going to do great! There is lots of life ahead of you! I am sure you'll find lots of tips here on this site and specifically this discussion board on how to navigate chemo, what to eat, what not to eat, how to deal with side effects...If you have any questions or you just want to chat, send me an email, I'd love to be able to support you and your husband through this.

Bryan

kerry's picture
kerry
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

Hi Kelly,

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in Dec. 2003. No family history. Underwent 6 months of chemo and now I'm feeling so much better. You didn't say what stage your husband is. I was stage 111. I know with your pregnancy and upcoming birth of a precious child, this is not what you had planned to be going through. Hang in here though, your husband needs your support and strength now and we are always here at this site to lend our encouragement, support, prayers and whatever else you may need. Having a supportive and loving spouse through the treatment of this disease and afterward is so important. I did not, but I have found strength in my children and family and I'll make it.

Check out some of the personal Web Pages. This brought me closer to some of the people in this discussion room and made them seem VERY real! Some have photos on there Web Page and that helps give a very personal feeling.

You will get through this and hopefully be stronger. Stay in touch and we'll help you and your husband through this.

God Bless,

Kerry

RunnerZ
Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2004

Kelli..I was 36 when I was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer. I had 6 weeks of preoperative chmoradiation followed by a recovery time and then surgery. By the time I was operated on, the tumor had been conmpletely eradicated by the preoperative treatment regimen of 5FU and radiation. There were NO malignant cells left. I still had to do 6 months of 5FU chemotherapy, which I hated...but living is worth it. I have been clean for 5 years now, and even have all of my plumbing, although it works a bit differently at times. My wife and I had 3 young children at diagnosis, the youngest only 6 months old. With fortitude, faith and some humor, and red wine, we survived. It was not easy, but when you have so much to live for you can marshall great resources. You will benefit from your medical knowledge, and yes, you have probably seen all of the worst case scenarios in the hospitals...not me, who is back running races as fast as pre-cancer, and working full time as a lawyer and coaching my kids sports, etc... You guys will do great, although it is not easy. remember my story, it is a good one. Please E-mail me if you need anything.

jsabol's picture
jsabol
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Kelly,
Sorry you have to be part of this board, but welcome. I'm stage 3, halfway through chemo, and doing OK. I'm a nurse...didn't help me a bit in managing my anxiety about chemo, but people here have been extremely informative and supportive. There isn't much one can do to prepare for chemo, but drinking plenty of fluids during and after seems important. My side effects from the chemo are minimal, more annoying than anything.
I don't know what type of surgery your husband will have, but this was my 3rd abd surgery (the others were gyn, no cancer) and I do not tolerate anesthesia and morphine derivatives well, with a lot of nausea and vomiting. This time both my surgeon and anesthesiologist recommended planting an epidural immediatly pre-op and leaving it in for 3 days post op. It was a miracle for me...to awaken with no pain, needing no po meds, no n&v, I was sooo ecstatic, left the hosp after 4 nights, 2 days of tylenol with codeine and that was it. I'm sure the healing went so much better because of it. So, just a suggestion, but worked really well for me.
I found my anxiety as a family member for my dad during his fight with colon cancer was far greater than when I was diagnosed myself. Take a deep breath, look out for your own welfare and baby's ,too. You will all get through this. That ton of bricks that just fell on your chest will lessen as you learn more and work your way through day by day. (And I found small doses of Ativan to be very helpful!)
Your lucky to have each other. Hang in there, keep us posted. Judy

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Kelly. I was diagnosed with rectal cancer over a year ago. Like your husband, I had chemoradiation followed by surgery (and, in my case, by further chemo). Tips on how to get through? My advice would be first of all, you must take care of yourself, in addition to supporting your husband (especially with the pregnancy). Second, accept support from others! This was a little hard for me (I'm fiercely independent and like to be 'strong'). This is the time to accept all favours! Indulge yourself in any little thing which might help you get through. Living with uncertainty is difficult. I encourage you to be open to the idea of seeking professional support (counsellor, therapist) if you think that might help. I did, and it did. I wish you and your husband all the best as you go through this journey.
Tara

Chrisswife
Posts: 50
Joined: May 2003

Kelly,
First, I'm very sorry for your husband's diagnosis, my husband's story is nearly identical so I know how lonely and frightened you must be.
The other posts are right on the money (especially about accepting help even though we are trained since childhood to be self sufficient).
What I would add is that my husbands and my perspectives on life is so much sweeter now that we are through this experience. Chris is cancer free today and we're having a big BBQ next month to celebrate the one year anniversary of his diagnosis. Once you get through this Kelly, there is nothing you can't do! Life is better, our energies are focused, we are kinder to each other and more patient to the world. You will get through this; some days will be harder than others, but the good news is the rewards you will reap later on.
If you can find a support group in your area, join in. Men do well in support groups because they can focus on someone ELSE instead of being the sick patient all the time.
Good luck and god bless.
Misha

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