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My Rectal Cancer Story

Posts: 158
Joined: Jan 2012

I usually do not post but I know when I was first diagnosed I always searched for good news stories. My son asked me to do a run with him and since I had not been that active I decided to have a physical before starting to train. On 7/15/2011 I was diagnosed with stage IIIb rectal cancer after a routine colonoscopy. In September I started 7 weeks of chemo/radiation. After 8 weeks of rest, I had a lower anterior resection to remove my whole rectum on 11/15/2011. I also had a temporary ileostomy placed. After surgery I did 6 treatments of Folfox and 2 treatments of Xelox. To make a long story short, over the past 17 months I have had 5 surgeries and two hospital stays in the ICU. My journey has been a roller coaster ride with good and bad situations. Due to a combination of things I did lose my hair. I say a combination of things because the treatments I was on people do not usually lose their hair. But with all of the chemo, anesthesia, and stress having to work every day while keeping up with everything else it dropped out in clumps. So I decided to shave the rest.  I will have to say I enjoyed the bald period. Saved me a good 30 minutes in the morning to wash and blow dry my hair before work. Ok, call me lazy!  I chose to go bald.  I couldn’t hide the cancer diagnosis since I was carrying around a chemo bag starting Wednesday after connection through Friday when I disconnected.

On 10/03/2012, I chose to have my ileostomy reversed. I had a wonderful surgeon who always assured me that I would have success with the reversal. I was also very lucky because one day at the infusion center I met another rectal cancer patient. We started talking and it turned out that she had my same diagnosis and we had the same surgeon. She had her whole rectum removed close to the same day that I had mine removed.  She chose to have her ostomy reversed prior to chemo I decided to wait and have it reversed after chemo. We both have straight connects instead of the J-pouch. She was doing so well with her new plumbing that it always gave me encouragement. Over the months of treatment I also got to meet several other people in my same situation which allowed me to stay positive.  I am happy to say my reversal surgery was a success.  Now when I meet other rectal cancer patients in the early stages I always say that a good colon and a teaspoon of Psyllium is just as good as a rectum.  My surgeon did a great job working me through the early weeks to get my bowel movements working normally.

I did not get to do the original planned race since I was in the ICU at the time of the race with an infection that they originally could not find the source. Since I was in the middle of my Folfox treatments I was going to walk and not run.  A great infectious disease doctor determined the source and I went home with some good IV antibiotics that did the trick. I am currently training so that my son and I can complete the race this coming April. I am more determined than ever to finish in a decent time. I had an oncologist that pushed exercise over rest so I stayed in pretty good shape through treatment.

My cancer journey has changed me and showed me how much strength that I have in me.  I have decided to gamble a little. I am going to quit a good job where I am not satisfied and start a new job/career path. I just had my 3 month check-up and a colonoscopy.  There are still no signs of cancer.  I have not had any signs of cancer since my CT scan pre-surgery. I know the odds for recurrence but cancer has already taken too much. For those starting the journey, take it one day at a time.  There will be good and bad days.

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Good luck on your new venture...wish I had the means to go and pursue another avenue such as yourself. 

I could wake up everyday refreshed and recharged...what would that be worth?


All doors and windows remained closed for me.....but I'm glad you made it through. 

Best wishes.

Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 2012

Good luck with the race and finding a new job!

I hope you remain cancer free. Thanks for sharing your story.

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