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Newly Diagnosed; Stage III

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Im 42 years old and was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer on May 11th, 04. I had surgery to remove the tumor and 2 feet of colon on May 18th and I got home from hospital 2 days ago. I am going to start 6 months of chemo on June 2nd. I am feeling very numb so far - is that a normal reaction? There is no family history of colon cancer and I had no symptoms other than vague abdominal pain which led me to the gastro who did a colonoscopy which found the tumor. I am a newlywed (married on Dec. 5, 2003) and my husband has been awesome. This is my first post on this site and I have read a lot of posts and realize that this might be the only place where others will truly understand how I am feeling right now.

I have on idea what to expect from chemo....Im scared and sad but also determined to do whatever I have to do fight this battle.

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

Hi Lisa,
Welcome to the semi-colon club and so sorry you have to be here. I am also stage 3, age 53, with dad who died of colon ca at 85. Thought I had decades to go before I had to worry!
I think I posted at the same time in my journey as you; home from the hospital (hope your surgery went well) and dreading the beginning of chemo. I don't know what your regimen will be. Have you met with the oncologist yet? They usually wait 4-6 weeks before starting the chemo to ensure that you have healed. Chemo attacks all newly growing cells as well as cancer cells, so the healing is important before you begin.
I am on 5FU and leucovorin, 6 weeks on, 1 week off, for a total of 4 courses.
I was soooo nervous before chemo, even though I'm a nurse and saw my dad sail through a year of treatments! Despite my nervousness, the chemo is going OK, and I have one 6 week course left to go. My main problems have been very dry and sensitive skin, and some episodes of diarrhea, controlled by meds,loss of body hair but NOT the hair on my head, and now, pretty impressive fatigue. I worked through the first 2 courses, but am on medical leave now. (Hence the time for extra long posts!)
I think I was more nervous than I needed to be. The first 2 courses of chemo went fairly smoothly, and now the end is in site.
Will you have an access port inserted? I didn't for the first course and my hand veins got too inflamed to continue. I love my port; no vein sensitivity, the infusions go faster and they can draw blood from it, too.
One piece of advice is to stay very well hydrated through out chemo, and rest when your body tells you.
It is so nerve wracking and scary to have to go through this; it's like falling off a cliff. Feeling numb is normal, it allows your mind to deal with things in its own time. You sound like you know what you have to do, and so many people share your thoughts, worries and situation. I have found this site to be a lifeline, with plenty of info and support.
One of the books I read defined hope as knowing you can deal with whatever lies ahead. Believe me, you CAN do this.
Wishing you hope and comfort.
Keep us posted, Regards, Judy

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Thanks so much for sharing your story with me - it really does help to know that others are in the same boat. To answer your questions, yes, according to my surgeon, my surgery was a complete success - he removed all of the tumor and blood supply. I do have lymph involvement but no liver or lung. They did both a CAT scan and a chest x-ray prior to surgery. I am starting my chemo on Wed.of next week, June 2nd, That is only 2 weeks post op but my oncologist(and surgeon) are aggressive and believe that I will tolerate the chemo well due to my age and that I am in great physical shape (I am very athletic, worked out daily, ate a super healthy diet, etc.). I hope they are right but Im ready for anything at this point. I am having the port implanted on Tuesday. Even as I write this, I am stunned that I am writing about myself - a month ago this would have seemed unreal if someone were to tell me what was to come.

I really do appreciate your advice and comments. Just knowing there are people who have tread this path before me makes my journey that much easier. I will definitely continue to post here.

Sheepy's picture
Sheepy
Posts: 48
Joined: Nov 2003

Hi - and welcome. You'll meet all sorts here, every kind of experience, but an overwhelmingly positive attitude - but when you're feeling down don't hesitate to share your feelings as well.

Have a look at the personal web pages - e.g. mine will tell you I had surgery for stage III in August 03 aged 38 - diagnosed a month after getting married.

I found the strength I got from my wife was wonderful, and think back to how I would have been before I met her - so it's a blessing that it happened now.

I was like you symptom-wise, just showed anaemia (note the spelling - I'm in the UK!) - was your tumour on the right-hand side, where you're lucky to get symptoms at all?

Everyone's chemo is different - I had 30 weeks of 5FU with, I think, Folinic acid - I only had one lymph node affected - how about you?

Chemo is a drag and affects everyone differently. I felt awful for a few hours after each treatment, but gradually improved as the week progressed so by the weekend I was back to normal. The only problems I had were nausea (but manageable with pills, and only for an hour or two), cracked/flaking skin on the hands, some looseness going to the toilet, a LOT of farting (buy some air fresheners!!!) but nothing else. My blood counts have been climbing right through the treatment (having started with severe anaemia).
Get some moist toilet wipes - makes dealing with the looseness much easier. Drink plenty of water before/after the treatment, and don't touch alcohol on the day either side of the treatment.

Hope it goes well for you - and believe me, those 30 weeks DO come to an end - I had my last treatment on Monday 24th!!!

Good Luck.

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Hi Sheepy,

Thanks very much for your reply to my post - it really does help me very much.

Wow, married only 1 month. I do definitely get so much support and strengh from my husband also (married only 5 months we are).

My tumor was on the left side - the only symptom I had was a very low level pain (I thought I had an ovarian cyst actually). My tumor was missed on both a Cat scan and an ultrasound. All my bloodwork was normal also.

I have met with my oncologist and my chemo starts June 2nd. I will be doing 2 days every 2weeks for 6 months and I am not sure the regime yet but I will definitely post here when I do for some more wonderful feedback. I feel so much better today having found this site.

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

You are at the right place for comfort and support and many prayers. Welcome to the "semi-colons", but as Judy said, "sorry you have to be here".

I too was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, only symptoms were fatigue and anemia. No pain or other discomfort and nothing different with my stools. And no family history of any other cancers. Talk about a shocking diagnosis!

Chemo affects everyone differently. Some people can get through it with little discomfort, others are more sensitive. A positive attitude during the whole treatment is essential - at least for me it was and the support of my family and friends gave me the strength to fight.

You will be in our prayers and thoughts. Please keep us posted and use this site to ask questions or just vent your fears.

As Judy suggested, check some of the personal web pages. They really bring you closer to the people here. Take care.

Kerry

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Hi Kerry,

Seems like you and I both had shocking diagnosis - even my gastro dr. said he never would have predicted this in me.

Strangely enough, I feel very calm - I have cried a few times, but more in sadness that in anger or frustration - I feel sad that my husband and I who are so newly married havent been able to enjoy this early time in our marriage just as a happy newlywed couple. I know that probably sounds selfish, but that is what I feel very sad about today. I am being very positive for myself as well as for my family and friends - they are such strong believers in me and that support is so necessary for me right now.

I am a bit scared about my chemo which starts next week but I will get through it - especially now that I have found this site - I really needed to feel not alone and this has made me feel exactly that today.

Thanks again for sharing with me.

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1319
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi Lisa ,welcome to the CSN sorry to see you in this site. I was st3 with 6 can nodes ,lost my des colon had chem every tues for a year(5fu levamisol). Surgeon and onc gave me little chance of survival expected 3 yrs max. I was 48 at diagnoses in jan 98. Have been ca free ever since :) so stay positive ,last year in jan they told me that my tumour was officially cured(just watch out for new ones). Good luck the treatment is tough but the light at the end of the tunnel isn't always a train,cheers Ron.

RMGill
Posts: 20
Joined: Apr 2004

I'm 34 and was just diagnosed a couple months ago with stage IV. Fairly active, non-smoker, eat well, and absolutely no family history of any cancer. Grandparents lived to mid 80s, and parents are healthy in early 60s. Total shock and surprise, only symptoms were anemia and some blood in stools, almost didn't even bother going to a Dr.

I almost cashed out on life when diagnosed, spent a week on valeum and scotch (not a Dr recommended combination) but I posted here and got a lot of encouragement from survivers to start the chemo and so far the treatments have gone very well.

Definately some side effects, but generally minor and nothing I haven't managed to cope with. The newer anti nausea drugs are really effective, I haven't gotten sick once. No hair loss yet either. Recommend getting a port catheture, helps with the IVs. Really research and understand the side effects of the chemo drugs, will help you prepare for the side effects and take precautions, like use good oral care products (non-alcholic mouthwash) because they can cause mouth sores, etc.

Definately fight on, and you're at the right place for encouragment.

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

I am glad to hear that you did go to the dr. and that you didnt cash out on life RM. Something takes us to the dr., something alerts us to what is wrong inside our bodies in time for us to fix it, that I truly believe. Do I wish that none of us ever got this diagnosis, I sure do, but its very odd that none of us seemed to have any symptoms but we are all here discussing it now and getting strength from each other.

I start my chemo next Wed., am having the cath inserted on Tues. I will be definitely grateful for any and all advice re: chemo. I really do thank you for sharing your situation with me,
Lisa

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

Hi Fitlisa,

I am sorry to "meet" you under such circumstances. However, you couln't have picked a better place for support. I was diagnosed with stage 4 at the young age of 33. My original tumor spread to my liver as well. I feel like an idiot when I recite my story again, as the "regulars" here have heard it a million times (sorry guys!). But if just one person could benefit, then it's worth it. Most importantly, today I am fine...free of cancer!

Keep that "fight" in you...your attitude will truly carry you through this minor setback in life. Most of all, this experience will truly open your eyes. It will show you what is important in life, and what is merely here to annoy you!

Chemo can be tricky, as everyone is different. I was fortunate enough to have no side effects from chemo. I am a firm believer in the fact that you are dealt only what you can handle. You can get through this...

Contact any of us through this web site for additional information, as we all understand exactly what you are going through.

Take care,

Stacy

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Hi Stacy,

Wow, I thought my diagnosis was at a young age...I am thrilled to read that today you are cancer free. I hope and wish the same success for all of us in this situation.

I will definitely keep fighting, for myself and for those who love me, especially my husband. I have never taken anything in my life for granted and never will, and this definitely realigns my priorities.

Thank you so much for your words of support - not just words tho, you have lived this already and I am benefiting from your experience. Thank you.

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

Hi Lisa...

One more thing...since you're getting the port-a-cath implanted the day before you start chemo, ask them to leave it accessed after they put it in. That way, you can just have the chemo snapped onto it, and you won't have to be poked with another needle. After they implant it, they can leave the needle ready for the chemo, and then simply tape it up so you can be ready for the chemo a little easier. Your docs are probably already considering this, but just in case, you should request it. I still have my port, and will get it removed in 2 yrs, when I hit my 5 yr mark.

Good luck,

Stacy

RebeccaJane
Posts: 19
Joined: May 2004

Hi there from Australia....my husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer late March 04. He is only just 28 and was very fit and healthy. We were obviously shocked & scared but it is amazing how things get easier as the process goes along. He also had an operation and has had his first full week of chemo recently. He will have chemotherapy once per week for six months also, the first week was hard for him but we are confident the six months will be easy....we hope anyway. It all must feel like a bad dream right now but in a couple of months it will sink in and you will be able to sort of live again without the constant feeling of fear and confusion...this has been our experience, to be honest I am not sure if this is the same for everyone. I guess it would depend on the severity etc. We have been very lucky so far and feel that things will only get better. It is great that you have fantastic support from your husband. Mine says that my love & support has meant everything to him, we have a little girl who has also helped brighten us up...take care and good luck with the next few months...Rebecca & Ross

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Hi Rebecca & Ross,

Seems as if Ross and I are very close in time in this process...my diagnosis was on May 11, my surgery on May 18th and my chemo starts June 2nd. My fingers are crossed that your chemo continues smoothly and that mine is also.

It seems as if you two are definitey a team supporting each other and that makes me so happy. My husband and I are only married 5 months now and we are being handed a huge challenge. I feel in my heart that we will make it through this as stronger and better people with an even stronger bond than we had before we married and it sounds as if that is the case with you two also. Thanks again and good luck.

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi. I was 43 when I was diagnosed. Stage III - low rectal. I had chemoradiation before surgery, then surgery, then chemotherapy (one lymph node affected).

The chemo is not fun, but it does end. I was relatively lucky with side effects - some nausea (there are lots of anti-nausea drugs out there - if one doesn't work or suit you, keep "shopping) and mild fatigue. My advice would be to keep as active as you feel like, but also "pamper" yourself and rest as your body demands. Drink lots of fluids.

I believe the numbness, sadness you are feeling are very normal reactions (to a very extraordinary event!). Like you, I was very healthy, with no 'risk factors'. I didn't really begin to 'process' what had happened to me until after all my treatment was finished - 8 months after diagnosis. At that time, I actually saw a therapist for a while, which was very useful (for me).

I'm now more than one year post-treatment and feeling great -- with "all clear" test results coming back.

I wish you all the best with the chemo and the future. Don't hesitate to write.
Tara

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Hi Tara,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I am glad to hear that my numbness is most likely normal. I guess I feel that freaking out isnt going to change my situation and it will just be a waste of energy on my part and will upset those around me who need me to be strong as they are being strong.

I am so happy to read that your test results are all clear - fantastic news Tara, something I wish for all of us.

I also really appreciate the advice re: chemo. I have no idea how my body will react, but I will definitely take every bit of advice that I have been given here on this board. Thank you. You are an inspiration to me.

steved
Posts: 836
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi lisa and welcome, I've been using this website for a couple of months since being diagnosed in February at the age of 31 with stage 2 or 3 (haven't had surgery yet so still uncertain about lymph node involvement). have recently completed five weeks of continuous 5FU preoperatively due to some local spread and it certainly wasn't as bad as I thought. I had radiotherapy at the same time and the side effects of that were worse. I still worked during the first four weeks- keeping some sense of normality to your life and routine helps you cope with the surreal sense your life takes on after diagnosis.
Roll with emotions as they will change day by day and week by week. Numbness is normal as are many other things such as being really angry at teh injustice of it all, hiding from it it all and pretending its not really happening and be prepared for patches of feeling low and a bit hopeless about it all. The emotional reactions are all very individual and nobody can predict how you will react but just try to be open about them esp with your new husband who will be going through similar types of things in his own head.
Try to find some enjoyment in things going on in your life too and don't let the cancer become your life. You said you are newly wed and should be spending time enjoying that so ensure you do allow yourselves time to do so. I had my first baby two weeks ago and among all this drama and stress of treatment it is fabulous jsut to sit and take time to spend with him.

Do use this website and feel free to email people as it allows people to get to know your situation a bit better and be able to offer better support.

Hope you are starting to get your head around it all though- amazing how much a healer time is and how we can get used to the wierdest andmost surreal things happening to us.

Keep in touch,
Steve

messer_j's picture
messer_j
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi my name is Jason and i was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer in febuary. I am 24 and had bloody stools for about a year before i went to the doctor. my wife recently gave birth to my first child in febuary also. This has been a crazy year. I started chemo and radiation right away they wanted to shrink it before i had surgery to save my rectume I waorked the entire 25 treatments of both i carried the cad pump with 5fu. I also had a port installed. i went every day for 5 weeks. my side effects were very minimal and zofran was a blessing. i do have a strong family history. my grandfather and father had colon cancer. My surgery is June 4th and i am starting to get nervous. I found this site very helpfull for support. But you must also include god and your family in your life as well i found it hard to talk to family about it and easier to talk to strangers but your family can mis-interpit you not talking to them and you must try or they will think you are angry or depressed. I hope you the best and good luck

KrisS
Posts: 232
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi there- Yes, it is normal to feel numb after such devastating news. I was that way for a good 3 weeks. I was diagnosed with rectal carcinoma 2 yrs ago when I was 46. I was very scared. I got a biopsy, met with the oncologist, went through treatment planning for radiation therapy, got my port implanted and then walked around with the pump for continuous chemotherapy infusion favored for radiation therapy for 3 days before I told anyone other than my sisters. I was so sure I would burst into tears if I did. I needed to get chemo for a few days so I could tell everyone that I was doing it and wasn't feeling any different.

Getting a port put in was easy for me. Although many people opt for sedation, I had mine put in under a local anesthetic and was out of the hospital and drove back to work in a couple of hours. It felt like someone punched me in the shoulder for a few days, and the radiologist who put it in told me to take the Vicodan he prescribed so that I could sleep so I took one.

As others have said, the response to chemotherapy is variable. Nausea can be a problem, but my oncologist sent me home with a smorgas board of anti nausea drugs to try until I found ones that worked best.

I currently am Stage 4 and have been on oxaliplatin and Xeloda (the oral 5-FU drug) for 11 mths with few problems. I get a bit tired, especially for a couple of days after treatment, but I still try to walk a couple of miles most days and go to the gym to lift weights. The skin on my hands and feet get a bit sore, and I have lost a bit of weight but all in all treatment has been pretty tolerable.

Best wishes for a smooth and sucessful treatment.

Kris

Tessyann's picture
Tessyann
Posts: 56
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Lisa just wanted to say Hi I am kinda new to this board too ... my hubby was dx with stage 3 in 1993 and since gone on to recurr 3 more time..He just had another surgery and he will be recieving chemo again soon
Teresa

stiltz1
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2004

I too am newly diagnosed with stage 11, lymph node involvement(2). The oncs want me to take oxilplatin, but I am hesitant; any thoughts on this drug?

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2084
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Lisa!

Nice to meet you and welcome.

I, too, was Stage 111, lymph pos with no mets (thank God). My onc suggested adjuvant chemo of 5fu and luecovorin but I declined and instead have chosen to heal the cancer with Eastern Meds aka Alternative Medicine.

I was diagnosed when I was 39 after having SEVERE abdominal pain that came out of nowhere! One day BOOM! I was doubled over in excruciating pain--much like labor--followed by bloody mucusy diarrhea and the feeling that there was more to void. (the tumor)

I am sorry that you are having to go through this during your newlywed phase. My sister did the same thing. She went on to have a baby when she was done with her treatments. She was the first in our fam to be dx'ed and was only 29.

I can relate to the shock of this diagnosis...even with my sister having gone through this....because I considered myself pretty healthy. Guess we all have room for improvement which I discovered the hard way.... :-)

There is a fabulous book that I recommend to all the newbies I come in contact with and that's:

Beating Cancer With Nutrition by Patrick Quillin

He has put together a fantastic reference for nutrition during chemo and what to take and what does what. It is easy to read and refer to.

AS for me, I will celebrate being cancer free for 3 years in August and that's withour any chemo and all alternative treatments. Not bad, eh? :-) Every month becomes a milestone in your survivorship to add to the growing number of days you are alive. Life becomes even sweeter and precious.

If I can impart any advice to you just starting out here it would be to cut out all REFINED FOODS from your diet...NO WHITES: white sugar, white grains and flours. Cancer feeds on sugar so it is important to starve the cancer and cut off its "food supply". Quillin will address this too and give you other tips on how to cut off the food supply to the cancer cells....which is what it's all about.

Happy healing.

peace, emily who remembers that scared and sad feeling. :-)

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