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Starting on a long road ...

catherine58's picture
catherine58
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2007

Hello all you inspirational Semi-Colons. I am now back from hospital, having had half of my right colon removed along with a tumour the “size of a small football”. The surgery itself was not as bad as expected and they let me go home after eight days. The bad news is that I heard yesterday that I am Stage 3 and I am bracing myself for a long course of chemo (have not yet met the oncologist). Three lymph nodes immediately adjacent to the tumour were affected, although the distant ones they analysed were not. Next week I am having a full body scan. I only had an abdominal scan before surgery (everything happened in such a rush) which seemed to show that my liver was clear (confirmed by what the surgeon saw) but I still don’t know about my lungs or elsewhere. I am feeling rather breathless, which could be explained by the after effects of surgery and the fact that I have just been diagnosed as anaemic, but these past few weeks I have become so accustomed to getting bad news from doctors ... I don’t dare look at the statistics. My wonderful surgeon says he hopes that I will see my children grow up, and their children too, but I fear he is being overly optimistic.

On a positive side, I am overwhelmed by the support and kindness of family, friends and neighbours - even some people I barely knew.

I want to try and eat as healthily as possible (I ate pretty well before) but feel quite confused by contradictory advice in different books (e.g. Ann Frahm and Patrick Quillin). I have lost quite a bit of weight - within two weeks, the skin on my arms is beginning to look positively reptillian and I am only 48! Looking forward to getting back to the gym although I don’t know realisitcally when I can expect to do this (certainly not until after my four week check-up with the surgeon) and whether I will feel up to it during chemo.

Best wishes to all of you, Catherine

hopefulone
Posts: 1048
Joined: Jan 2007

Hi Catherine. I'm sorry the news wasn't better, but it's good that your surgery went well. Don't bother looking at statistics. Most are old and outdated and they are simply statistics..not Gospel. Keep positive. Remember you have the support of your family and you are among friends here. The road may be long but God's in the driver's seat. You can't have better company than that for the trip. God Bless.

alihamilton's picture
alihamilton
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

I am sorry you are going through this but be encouraged. Try to look at it as a period of your life that might not be the best but will pass!

My husband, aged then 65, was diagnosed nearly 4 years ago with Stage 111C rectal cancer with 11 out of 18 nodes involved. After surgery, he was treated with just 5FU/Leukovorin and radiotherapy and had a really rough time because of other complications. However, just five months after diagnosis, he was back at work part time and a year later, he returned part time. He lost 40 pounds during those first 5 months but then started to put it back on after that.

This past week he had his annual ct scan and it was clear. His CEA had been slowly rising and reached 5 last time...now it is down to 3.6! It was all wonderful news.

Do not take any notice of statistics. They do not help in your recovery at all! Everyone is an individual. As you say, there are many conflicting opinions about diet but I follow the rule that anything in moderation is OK. If you have lost weight, this is not the time to go on a really restricted diet, unless your doctor feels there is good reason to. Eat a well-balanced diet, adjusting it to how well you tolerate certain foods. You may find some upset you more easily than before...then again, you may not!

I do wish you well during the coming months as you start on your journey to recovery. As the gastroenterologist told my husband on diagnosis. "In a few months, you will look back on this as just a hiccup in your life!" Well, it was a rather large hiccup, but in some ways, he was right!

Take care,

Ali

jams67's picture
jams67
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

I found following a book more than I wanted to do so I just rely on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and yes, meat, not as much red meat as before. I cut down on sweets, but didn't cut them out completely. This way I don't feel deprived of anything. I even have alcohol sometimes. What is a nice dinner without a glass of wine or Mexican food without a margarita? Do I base my food choices on anything? No, it comes from everything I have read, and then making my own choices. Moderation is the key for me. Jo Ann

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

Hi Catherine,
Welcome to the semi-colons; not a bad club if you have to be here! Those weeks following diagnosis and surgery were a blur, nothing prepares you for this journey.
I am stage III also, diagnosed at age 53, surgery in Dec '03, one positive node, no lung or liver involvement (although scans have picked up stable "presumed cysts" in my liver that have remained unchanged).
I had 6 months of chemo, and now, 3 years out of surgery, I am back to my "normal" self, and about to leave for a week of crosscountry skiing north of Montreal (we New Englanders have to embrace winter!).
Good luck with the oncologist; remember that the only odds that matter are yours...and no one can predict that.
Stay strong and focused; keep us posted; great amounts of support and info here saw me through my treatment, and you will get through it, too.
All the best, Judy

chynabear's picture
chynabear
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

Dear Catherine,

You haven't received the best of news, nor the worst. As already stated, ignore statistics completely. Instead, focus on improving your health and immune system.

As far as feeling breathless, I think we ALL tend to think the worst at every little symptom or change we have in our bodies after having cancer. From what others have said, they had no symptoms at the onset of mets to the lungs, but I would bring it up with your doctors immediately in case of infection or something.

It's hard not to think doom and gloom when we are diagnosed. I'm sure that the majority of us here thought for sure that we were going to lose the battle when we were diagnosed. Sadly, some do; however, there are a majority that do not and there is proof right on these boards. Keep the hope.

I don't know that you will be back to the gym for strenuous excercise soon, but there's no reason you can't walk.

I also had tremendous weight loss after surgery and the start of chemo. I put it back on and more :( rapidly.

I was diagnosed with Stage III with 1 node positive 2 1/2 years ago. I'm here, you will be too.

Take care and keep us updated on chemo.

Tricia

CAMaura
Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

Hey there -
Your doc sounds just fine to me. No reason you won't see everyone many years from now!
The books can be onverwhelming, so it is just fine to start slowly. I did not start being super serious about anything alternative until a ter chemo, so you are miles ahead (of me, anyway) and I know it will have a positive effect on you! I have not read the Frahm book, but I do reread the Quillin book every few months; there is so much info that I know I miss things. Maybe if you think of adding one change per week , or something like that, it might bring down the sense of anxiety!
You sound so positive and that is just wonderful. Hang in there with exercise; you will make it back to the gym just fine. In the meantime, I hope you like walking - it is really great for building your strength back and I just think that there is something so nice about the calmness of it.
I have not looked at stats for staging, recurrence and death. I instead research info about nutrition and exercise -- and there are really good stats there (even academic stats) about the positiove results.
Again, hang in there and keep us posted. There is wealth of info onthe site and everyone is happy to share. Take care and I hope this period of rest and regaining your strength is a great one!
All t he best - Maura

minniemoose's picture
minniemoose
Posts: 10
Joined: May 2005

Hi Catherine...Ihad colorectal cancer which had spread thru the vagina to the uterus...so had a doubel surgery to remove it all ending up with a colostomy...I was stage 3 pushing stage 4....I had twenty radiation treatments before surgery and 6 months of chemo after surgery....the chemo was notbad at all...all I had was a bad taste in my mouth and my hair thinned slightly ....the bad taste would go between chemos...I wasn't sick at all...tis one of the easier chemos I think.....I had cancer left in some of the lymphs but the chemo got rid of it...been free and clear now for 3 years in April....
I also lost 35 lbs and looked like a scrag end of mutton for a while till I gained weight again.
My advice during chemo is to rest lots..eat whatever you fancy and you will be fine...
Take care...

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hi catherine!

Welcome to the gang of Semi-colons.

I was Stage III with 2 out of 19 lymph nodes pos (also nearest the tumor). That was 5 years and 7 months ago! I feel I have beat the stats anyway. I pooh-poohed the stats until I beat them! Then it feels darn good. :-)

I didn't do any chemo but pretty much did the Anne Frahm way of healing. I also read the Quillin book. Everyone does seem to contradict eachother in all realms of healing but I embraced what worked for me and stuck to it and that was juicing with macrobiotics. You will find what works for you. For some it's an all raw diet and others prefer a pH diet and others go vegan and others just eat organic and healthful. I knew someone personally who healed her son of "terminal" cancer with the juicing (she also followed the Anne Frahm way) and went on to wrtie a book about it. I consulted with her and figured what did I have to lose by trying it too. i already knew about juicing so I did what I knew.

It is a long road and can get bumpy, but honestly, I don't think I would trade this journey, for it gets sweeter and more wonderful as the years go by......

Anyway, not to confuse you anymore, but I would check into eating a pH alkaline diet too while you're at it. :-) And don't forget the flax oils or borage and primrose for the reptile skin!

peace, emily

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