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Stage 3C (or 4) Pls Come In

GoFightWin
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2007

My 34 year old sister was diagnosed 3C last week and we're (family) all having a tough time. (We're all stronger around her than when we're alone).

The report said:
-the 6.1 cm tumor did go through the colon wall
-14 of 32 lymph nodes affected
-no organs affected

They removed 12" of her colon last week. She came home Sunday and will begin chemo mid-Dec. She and her husband have 3 little ones 5 and under. She's a stay at home Mom; brother in law works full time. Parents live near them, which is a blessing. We're close as well.

Questions:
-how was chemo for you?
-how long have you survived?
-what advice do you have for my sister and family?

I'm trying to be as supportive as I can. She wants her old life back and is very, very angry, which I can understand. We may go to the gym together; I'm just worried once the chemo starts she'll not want to go. I want to keep her spirits up and FIGHTING. She'll also need to stop nursing her 6 mo old which is emotionally hard for her as well.

Such a tough time. =(

Moesimo's picture
Moesimo
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

I was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer on 3/17/03. I was 46. My youngest was 14. I had been a nurse for 25 years and had no idea what patients went through. I had 3 surgeries and was hospitalized 11 times. I worked full time through most of treatmens. I did take time off after surgeries.

Your sister will need help with the kids. Its good your parents are around. I took it day by day and sometimes hour by hour. I was angry initially, but got in the ring to fight.

It hasn't been easy, but it has been 4 1/2 years since my surgery. I never thought I would feel good again. I wake up everday with a smile. I went to Vegas in Oct. with 4 childhood friends, I have known since first grade. We were celebrating turning 50. I say bring on those birthdays. Hubby was a liitle jealous.

You will get through this. I used to cry alot, esp. in the shower, then noone knew.

Maureen

betina61's picture
betina61
Posts: 644
Joined: Aug 2006

I am very sorry to see that you and your family have to go through this very tough times, but things will get better,I was dx. July 2006 stage 3a,and I'm doing fine,chemo was not that bad,I kept working through all my treatment,didn't have any nauseas or vomiting, only tireness 3 or 4 days after chemo, my hair got thinner but nobody noticed anything,your sister is very young and that will help her a lot,with the treatment,from the beginning I started making plans for a nice vacation for the next year, I remember always what my surgeon told me that 80% of recovery had to do with staying positive and visualizing good times coming, I know is hard, life will never be the same,but we have to learn to live in a little diferent way, enjoying one day at a time,sometimes one hour at a time.My advice again stay positive and PRAY God will be with your sister at her side through this journey.I wll be praying too for her,you and your family.

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

I love your screen name, and that's exactly how to approach this. Right now your sister is very angry which is natural! If she can direct that anger at the disease (not herself or any person) and maintain a positive outlook, she will have a better experience.

I was only stage II, and I did the resection and the chemo. The chemo is different for everyone. My experience was one of cumulative effects; the longer I had chemo the more side effects and strength of side effects went on. I stopped after 9 of 12, but again I must stress that everyone is different. Initially I went to work wearing the pump and all, but as time went on I could not. The most pronounced effect was fatigue, plus neuropathy from the oxaliplatin. I don't know what regimen your sister will be on. Personally, I would not really start feeling ill until day 2 after infusion, the day the pump came off. Then I would gradually feel better until the next treatment.

It is very important that she has positive people surrounding her. Since she has young children, a commitment from those close to you to help take care of them will be very comforting to her, as there will be days when she is very fatigued. Exercise is important, but remember there may be days when the most she can do is walk slowly around the block, so don't pressure her about the gym.

Also, she needs to be aware of her nutrition and hydration. I had nausea a lot, and it was hard to keep up with nutrition and hydration. The oxaliplatin can cause extreme sensitivity to cold and all liquids had to be room temperature or warm. It also caused a foul taste in my mouth, so I had to force myself to eat and drink. I lost a lot of weight while on chemo, but I gained it back very quickly once I had been out of chemo for a few weeks.

I am 9 months out of chemo and had my first scan in September. It came back NED (no evidence of disease) and my oncologist says the future looks good. I know your sister will come out of this. There are so many treatment options now, and this is not a death sentence. Her life will never be the same, and the anger will probably come back periodically, but if she can direct that anger energy to survival, she will be better off. This site has been a godsend to me; information, support, humor and getting to know some really great people.

Finally, you may want to run genetic tests for the gene mutation which causes colon cancer. Your sister is very young which immediately makes me suspicious. If she has the gene, all her first degree relatives should be tested so you know how often to be screened. I am carrying that gene, and so is at least one of my sisters.

I hope this was informative. You know you can always come to this site. There are people here who know more than several doctors I have seen! Take care of yourself and your sister. We are all praying for you.

Hugs,
Kirsten

impactzone's picture
impactzone
Posts: 538
Joined: Aug 2006

Stage 4 here is my breif history. Dx 9/06, colon surgery, chemo, liver resectiuon 2/07,pulomary embolism, chemo, brea,k lung lobectomy11/07 and now waiting. I know that sounds terrible but you can get through it. when first Dx I thought it was the end but with 2 kids (11 and 13) and a great support system ( I teach and my wife does as well, we have gotten to this point. Chemo was hard at times I had erbitux (very bad rash), Oxylaplatin ( I still have neuropathy effects) and Xeloda every two weeks at Stanford. Usually I felt kinda bad (flu like for 2 days) but then was able to have a normal 10 days. It was worse as the treatments continued as the effects were cumulative and I did get tired. But it was not terrible and you can get through it. My advice is that you have lots of time, be an advocate for yourself, have all meds on hand, not a pleasant subject but the diarria, constipation cylcle was very unpleasant. You will probably never get your old life back for a while but you will meet great people, find strength you didn't know you had, and provide hope for others. All my best
Impactzone

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

Hi GFW!

I was a Stage 3 like your sister--penetrated the colon wall, lymph involvement, but no organs, thank god.

I have 5 kids with the youngest being 20 months at the time--still nursing--and was homeschooling three of them when I was dx'ed. I can completely understand your sister's anger. Counseling was part of my healing protocol.

I opted to NOT do the chemo and instead used Eastern Medicine for healing post surgery. I use Western diagnostics to keep on top of everything and have remained CANCER FREE for over 6 years now!! And I didn't have to give up nursing my littlest (and subsequently my last)!!!

I found a Naturopathic doctor who was knowledgable about cancer nutrition who guided me in supplements and diet and then I worked with a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who gave me my "treatments" weekly for 6 months. You can read about what I did on my webpage on here and feel free to contact me if you think your sister could benefit from my experience.

Juicing raw veggies became the foundation for my healing and remaining cancer free. I also did macrobiotics. I actually did a whole lot of stuff and it really worked!

I had a sister die of intestinal cancer 9 years before I was dx'ed and this was a huge reason why I took the road I did and I have never looked back nor have I ever regretted my decision.

Hope this helps.

peace, emily

nudgie's picture
nudgie
Posts: 1483
Joined: Sep 2006

My prayers go out to your sister, especially at her age of 34.

I was dx (7/06) at the age of 42 with Stage II colon cancer. I had emergency surgery due to symptons; total bowel obstruction. Did the FLOFOX Chemo Regime which was 5FU (pump), Lecovorin and Oxyplatian (sp?) every other week for a total of 12 treatments. According to my path report, I was considered T3, NO and MO, meaning my tumor was a T3, NO = no lymph node involvement and MO, no signs of spreading throughout the body or to organs.

I have a wonderful care team of primary docs, nurses and Onc docs. I consider myself lucky.

ONE MAIN FACTOR is to make sure she takes total charge of her care. Ask questions, no matter how small, large or stupid the question may or may not be. Info on the Internet keep in mind is sometimes outdated and the stats are also outdated.

Had my last surgery in 2/07 and consider myself fully recovered. Since 11/06 I have received CT Scans and Bloodwork every 3 months. My next CT and Bloodwork is in Dec 07.

You will find support, comfort, answers and any other information you need from your family here.

Please keep us updated on the outcome and how things are going.

shmurciakova's picture
shmurciakova
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hi! My name is Susan. I was diagnosed when I was 31 years old, a couple of months after I got married. I was in total shock and it was very, very scary. I was devastated to hear the news, like your sister, that I had to have chemotherapy. Of course, this was back in 2002, so the chemo I had (5-FU and Leukovorin) was not as effective as what they have now. I was on that for 6 months. At the first checkup after finishing chemo they found that I had a met to my liver which was quite large. At that time I was sent to MD Anderson for surgery and fortunately it was removed. At that time I went on a second chemo called FOLFIRI which possibly is what your sister will be given, although now it seems most people do FOLFOX first. It did not exist at the time...I was good for a while (8 months or so) and then found out that I had 2 small mets in my lung. These were also able to be removed, thank God! I then decided to just wait, like Impactzone has done. I did not want to do Oxaliplatin because of the neuropathy. For one thing, I am an avid backpacker, and secondly I live in Alaska. So, now the good news.....
I have been cancer free for the past 3 YEARS!
They (my doctors) say that my mets were there all along, they were just too small to be seen on my scans. They were not recurrences per se.
I hope that does not get you all freaked out, because like I said, the drugs now days are much better than what I had, and if your sister does have any lingering cells, they will get killed, I am sure.
It is a difficult time, I will not lie to you. I continued exercising (hiking mostly, and lifting weights) throughout my 2 1/2 year "ordeal". I think it is the only thing that kept me sane. Ironically, my job also helped me immensely. I was lucky in that I have a boss who is a cancer survivor too. So she understood my plight and gave me time off as needed.
I would highly recommend that you consult a Naturopath (N.D.) who specializes in cancer patients who can put your sister on supplements not only to help her through chemo, but also to help with preventing a recurrence.
She needs to take a mind/body/spirit approach, like Emily (2Bhealed) suggested. If she eats poorly, she really must stop and seriously focus on nutrition like her life depends on it.
She also needs to focus on visualizing herself healed, after cancer. There are no guarantees, and that is the truly frightening part, but all you can do is plug along, doing everything possible, and know that you are going to be OK.
Mind over matter is very, very important, I cannot stress that enough. Also, by all means, see a counsellor and get many, many massages!!!
Best of luck to you both,
Susan H.

shmurciakova's picture
shmurciakova
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hi! My name is Susan. I was diagnosed when I was 31 years old, a couple of months after I got married. I was in total shock and it was very, very scary. I was devastated to hear the news, like your sister, that I had to have chemotherapy. Of course, this was back in 2002, so the chemo I had (5-FU and Leukovorin) was not as effective as what they have now. I was on that for 6 months. At the first checkup after finishing chemo they found that I had a met to my liver which was quite large. At that time I was sent to MD Anderson for surgery and fortunately it was removed. At that time I went on a second chemo called FOLFIRI which possibly is what your sister will be given, although now it seems most people do FOLFOX first. It did not exist at the time...I was good for a while (8 months or so) and then found out that I had 2 small mets in my lung. These were also able to be removed, thank God! I then decided to just wait, like Impactzone has done. I did not want to do Oxaliplatin because of the neuropathy. For one thing, I am an avid backpacker, and secondly I live in Alaska. So, now the good news.....
I have been cancer free for the past 3 YEARS!
They (my doctors) say that my mets were there all along, they were just too small to be seen on my scans. They were not recurrences per se.
I hope that does not get you all freaked out, because like I said, the drugs now days are much better than what I had, and if your sister does have any lingering cells, they will get killed, I am sure.
It is a difficult time, I will not lie to you. I continued exercising (hiking mostly, and lifting weights) throughout my 2 1/2 year "ordeal". I think it is the only thing that kept me sane. Ironically, my job also helped me immensely. I was lucky in that I have a boss who is a cancer survivor too. So she understood my plight and gave me time off as needed.
I would highly recommend that you consult a Naturopath (N.D.) who specializes in cancer patients who can put your sister on supplements not only to help her through chemo, but also to help with preventing a recurrence.
She needs to take a mind/body/spirit approach, like Emily (2Bhealed) suggested. If she eats poorly, she really must stop and seriously focus on nutrition like her life depends on it.
She also needs to focus on visualizing herself healed, after cancer. There are no guarantees, and that is the truly frightening part, but all you can do is plug along, doing everything possible, and know that you are going to be OK.
Mind over matter is very, very important, I cannot stress that enough. Also, by all means, see a counsellor and get many, many massages!!!
Best of luck to you both,
Susan H.

hopefulone
Posts: 1048
Joined: Jan 2007

Hi and welcome. My hubby dx stage IV , colon resection in Jan 07 and just had a liver resection after 9 chemo treatments 6 weeks ago. Currently NED (no evidence of disease) Tell your sister that attitude plays a very important part and to be sure she asks questions and if she's not comfortable with the answers , to get a second opinion . Let us know what chemo regimen she will be on. Everyone's experience is different. My husbands went well fortunately so far. I wish your sister the same. God Bless, Diane

Allen55555
Posts: 15
Joined: Jun 2004

In April 2004 I had a 5.5cm tumor which went through the colon into the surrounding fat. Positive lymph node. Had 6 months of folfox 6. Was 57 in good shape and did not have to work. I laid around most of the 6 months and had memory problems. It took 6-12 months after chemo to get back to normal. Doing well now with physically active life and memory back to normal. Hair thinned during chemo but quickly grew back after chemo ended.Good luck

Faith4Cure
Posts: 405
Joined: Mar 2007

I agree with all of the advice that you have received so far. As you can tell, there are a lot of people here that have been through it all and are here to tell you that your sister will get through this!!!
It is important for your sister (and you)to be educated on this as much as possible so decisions can be made in confidence.
My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 about 1 year ago and went through surgery, chemo and radiation. In the beginning we wondered how we would ever get through it. My husband had a very positive attitude which is so important. He was able to keep working throughout most of the treatments.

When first being told of the diagnosis we searched statistics on the internet. DON'T!!! As we were told later, statistics are all outdated. The treatments they are using now are not all included in the research.

Your sister is lucky to have a supportive family so close by. She will get through this!

Faith

AuthorUnknown
Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

I AM an 11 year cancer survivor and I did alternatives because someONE who crossed my path gave me directions to seek out. I have learned alot over the 11 years. The path I took was very supportive for the body. I AM happy to give people choices. Please go and read my webpage. I have plenty of more directions to share but I put what I felt was the basic info. for people to understand what I feel to be issues easy to understand and focus on.

Anonymous user (not verified)

This comment has been removed by the Moderator

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Sorry for the late reply. I was diagnosed with Stage 3. That was almost 5 years ago. I have had 2 relapses -- which is probably not what you want to hear right now. BUT -- I'm still alive! and I am currently CANCER-FREE. I was 44 when I was diagnosed and my two kids were 10 and 12. They are now 15 and 17. That is a huge difference and I am so happy I have been able to have these years with them (and plan to have many more!). I had radiation, surgery, chemo. Then surgery + chemo. Then surgery + chemo. It is not fun. But, it is not as bad as you'd think. I kept working most of the time (my job is pretty flexible). Walked, saw friends, hugged those kids. I send you and your sister all best wishes. Yes, it is important to think positively and to get in "fight" mode (or whatever mode seems likely to work for you). But it is normal to feel angry too -- and sad. I still grieve for the "normalcy" I lost. Best wishes
Tara

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