Newly Diagnosed...Rectal Cancer

Jbeckerdite Member Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
Hello. My name is Jeannette and I am new here. It's very hard for me to be here, though, because I'm extremely scared.

I'm 35, and went in for a colonoscopy after having some rectal bleeding for about two months. Apparently I have a 2cm lesion 15cm up that has come back as a cancer. I had a PET/CT scan yesterday, and today I have an appointment to see a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, he wants to take a look at it himself.

I saw a general oncologist yesterday, and all he did was scare me. He told me that most of them come back as a Stage III and the statistics online for a stage III are not encouranging.

I've only known about this for a week, how do I cope? How do I keep a positive attitude? I feel absolutely fine right now, except that I have lost my appetite since finding out about my news. Any words of encouragement? My husband is being absolutely wonderful, my parents are having a tough time with it, especially my Dad.

Oh yes, I also have a General Anxiety Disorder, which isn't helping my state of mind. I know that it's so important to keep a strong positive attitude. How do you guys do it?
Thanks for listening.


  • Aims669
    Aims669 Member Posts: 9
    Hi Jeanette,

    I'm 38 and diagnosed with rectal cancer in April. My story is similar. Don't freak out (easier said than done). I just decided to do what needs to be done. I'm 4 weeks into radiation and chemo and feel great. Two weeks to go! Then surgery, but I feel in good hands.
    Online statistics can be a real downer, but they are old and do not speak to the individual. Do not focus on them. Try reading a lot of the stories on this website. They are very hopeful and inspiring.
    I also focus on the fact that I feel terrific. I don't feel sick. People will call me or approach me when they hear my news and they cry and are quite upset, I need to honor that, but also to realize they are often bringing their own experiences with cancer to me. They don't really know my "case."
    I probably have stage 3.It is through the wall and appears to be in lymph nodes. I guess we won't know for sure until the surgery. This isn't fun, but I am going to get through it and so are you.

    I'm thinking of you. Hang in there.

  • tootsie1
    tootsie1 Member Posts: 5,044 Member
    Hi, Jeannette. Prayer really helps. I also feel empowered when I'm doing something good for myself, like walking or eating really healthy foods. And yet, last night was another night that I relived the moment I was told about my cancer (diagnosed last Nov.). I had trouble sleeping, but I got up this morning and took a walk and feel like today will be better. One step at a time!

    *hugs* Gail
  • Madre
    Madre Member Posts: 123
    Hi Jeannette,
    This ironic but my full name is also "Jeannette" but I go by Jay. I at 42 and was diagnosis 4/4/08 with colon cancer, a 1 1/2 inch tumor in my small colon. I wasn't even having symptoms, it was part of a routine physical. I didn't have to have radiation, but on 4/17/08 I had surgery to remove it, stage 3 with 3/36 nodes positive. I just started chemo last wednesday and will have 6 months of it. The tumor is gone, but the chemo is to kill off any microscopic cancer cells that might be floating around as to prevent the cancer from returning. My doctor told me that my treatment is for a cure, if not already cured from surgery. I was also told that colon cancer is one of the most treatable types. I too was scared (still am) but as the days go on I can handle it better. Those around me have a harder time because they can't fix it or help me and "make it all better". I don't know where you stand as religion, but my faith was renewed and I pray more for direction and answers. Keep looking for answers from your doctors. Be careful of what you read on the internet. Your case is individual and your doctors will treat you as such. If not, find a new doctor. Take a deep breath, and try to keep positive (easier said than done, I know) but this board is a great place to get support and just know you are not alone. Lean on your family and friends and let them help you. You'll get through this :-). Keep strong.
  • Hanac
    Hanac Member Posts: 55
    Dear Jeannette,

    I'm so sorry you are going through this. CANCER SUCKS! Now, that being is the deal...stay positive and surround yourself with positive people. People will take their cue from you...and it wil be easier for you to be positive when you have positive support.

    Positive story number 1: I have a friend who had stage four colon cancer. After going through all the stuff for colon cancer, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I heard, I said to her " did you deal with that?!" She replied, "you know what I did...same as step up to the plate and swing the bat." She is still doing great...10 YEARS LATER!
    It will be hard, but you can do this.

    Love and prayers being sent your way!


    P.S. I was diagnosed stage 3, May, 9 2005. I just had my 3 year scan and all is clear.

    P.P.S Chocolate helps too. LOL!
  • Unknown
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  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
    Look at this as only a stage in your life that you need to get thru. Sort of like high school (lol!). There will be some tough times, but also some times of joy (yes, believe it or not!).

    I am a 2-time survivor, dx 12/04 with rectal cancer, stage III. Chemo, rads, surgery. Then, 6 months later, unrelated breast cancer (stage II). (NO, this is NOT typical!) I am, 3 years later, cancer free!!!!

    Find something 'normal' to do often. And laugh as much as possible. Post your fears/concerns here-we are one of the best 'tumor boards' around.

    SHAME on your oncologist for not supporting you!!! There are LOADS of stage III's that are doing just fine, thank you, and also stage IV's.

    You are lucky to have a strong support team in your family. Tell them that. There will be times when you feel like biting their heads told my beau of 17 years off a few times, but always appologized after...

    Pity parties are fine, I had many. BUT, if it lasts more than 24 hours, seek some support. My treatment center had an on-staff counsellor...

    You are NOT alone! And, if I were you, I might look for a treating oncologist who is a bit more encouraging!

    Oh, and always take someone with you to doctor's appts...and take notes..."You have cancer" seems to rob us of our hearing!!!

    Hugs, Kathi
  • Jbeckerdite
    Jbeckerdite Member Posts: 6
    Thank you very much everyone. I am going to do my absolute best to take things one day at a time. I think my hubby will feel better if I feel better as well. I hate to think of what this is doing to him. I am going to view this just as you said...a bump in my road, a stage of my life that I will get day at a time. In the meantime, I will laugh, and I'm sure I'll cry.

    I'm still nervous to find out what stage I'm at. But, that will come in time.

    Regarding the Oncologist, he was actually just a "second opinion" guy I was going to keep around. I'm supposed to be working with a GI Oncologist at Mass General, so hopefully he'll have a better spin on things!
  • pamness
    pamness Member Posts: 524 Member
    I was treated as MGH for stage IIIA colon cancer - 2 positive nodes. My surgeon was Dr. David Berger and my oncologist is Dr. David Ryan. I am done with treatment and 6 months NED. I was and am very happy with Dr. Ryan and my surgery was, all things considered, very easy. My scans showed nothing after a routine colonoscopy found a malignant polyp. I was surprised as were my doctors to find two positive nodes. I was advised by both my oncologist and surgeon and primary care to stay off the web - the information is not written for you or about you. This web site is great. The statistics for Stage III cancer are quite good really and don't include the full impact of some of the new drugs. There are many Stage III and Stage IV survivors on this board. I would suggest you look at their success. I, too, have general anxiety disorder. I take Klonopin - and took it all through treatment. My oncologist recommended I try an anti-depressant anxiety med and I use zoloft which has worked wonders. I also have a great therapist who was invaluable, something else Dr. Ryan encouraged. I know this is scary, but the odds are in your favor. You can do this and you will find inner resources you never knew you had. I live in Chestnut Hill, if you want to contact me privately, just send me a private e-mail here. I would be happy to chat or get together with you if you would like. This board is a wonderful source of support and information. Let us know how things go. I don't know if this is helpful, but I never considered the possibility I would die from this, I looked at it as something I needed to deal and get through. Reach out to your friends. They will probably be amazingly supportive. If you know anyone who is a cancer survivor talk to them. I was lucky, one of my closest friends is a 10 year breast cancer survivor. She was a source of great comfort and inspiration.

  • RunnerZ
    RunnerZ Member Posts: 185
    I am a nine and one-half year survivor of stage 3 rectal cancer, diagnosed at the age of 36. I too was terrified (I had three young children) and shocked by the information on survival. My Dr. told me to ignore those numbers-they are all outdated and do not take into account how young and healthy you are (and I was). He told me that survival rates are much higher every year and he was right! While it was not an easy battle, I am considered cured! I still run 40 miles a week and work as a prosecutor. Cancer did make me take a close look at my life and make it better....but believe me, it is a battle you can certainly win!!! My Dr. said that stage 3 survival in his practice with people like me was 90% or more. Those were stats I liked! Hang on tight during this initial adjustment period and be kine and patient with yourself. Your best days are still ahead of you!
  • rmap59
    rmap59 Member Posts: 266
    Hi Jeannette,
    Stick with us and we will help you through, so will your friends, family and the main man upstairs. I prayed a lot and cried some but mostly took one day at a time and now I am NED one year survivor and have no doubt I am cured.
    Dont let the negative in, just push it away and stay happy as you can.
  • usakat
    usakat Member Posts: 610 Member
    Hi Jeannette,

    Welcome to our group, but sorry about your diagnosis. It's totally understandable and NORMAL for you to feel scared. It's okay. This is all very new for you, and right now you're in the "shock" stage of your shock and awe situation. I remember what that was like when I was first diagnosed. Just like everyone says, you WILL get through this, and you will most likely learn things about yourself and about life that will change you forever. I learned to truly appreciate life more and worry less. I learned to love more and fuss less.

    The things that really helped me get through was learning how to lean on my family and friends when I needed to (you can call us friends here - come back and post whenever you need us. This group helped me more than they will ever know), journal writing, meditation, and above all else, faith. Faith in myself, faith in the deep down knowledge that I would be fine, no matter what happened with my health, and faith that I was in good hands - my medical team and God.

    Oh yeah, and one other thing...surround yourself with positive people. That oncologist you mentioned is obviously Dr. Downer - kick him to the curb. You need someone to lift you up, not scare the crap out of you. And as for online statistics - they are old, outdated and are numbers that reflect a general population from who knows when or where. You are unique and will be a unique are already!

    We're here for you, Jeannette...sending you many blessings for health and wellbeing.

  • KierstenRx
    KierstenRx Member Posts: 249
    Hi Jeannette,
    Welcome to the group. This group is AMAZING!!! Everyone here helped me get through treatment and made it a little less scary. Know that we are all here for you. I was diagnosed at age 32 in 9/06 with stage III rectal cancer. You are at a very scary time right now while you are getting a plan together.
    First I would make sure you have faith in your oncologist. He is going to help you make some very important decisions and you have to have complete confidence in him. I'm sorry he scared you and if you don't feel like you are clicking get a second opinion.

    I also would not pay too much attention to the statistics. There are soooooo many variables and treatment options. You will be amazed how many stage III and IV survivors are on this website.

    Now for the attitude stuff. Yes, you have to stay positive, but there is a lot more to that. You will find that you have more strength than you imagined. I was positive from day one of my diagnosis, but I would beat up on myself when I would have a bad day or negative thoughts. A very wise friend told me not to confuse what having a positive attitude doens't mean. You are allowed to be scared. You are allowed to be mad. You are allowed to have a bad day. You are allowed to wonder if you are going to make it through. You are allowed to wonder if you are going to make it to your 40th birthday. You are allowed to question God why did this happen. You are allowed to cry and mourn the old you that is now gone. You are allowed to be tired and frustrated. You are allowed to feel every emotion that comes to mind. There are no right or wrongs in your feelings. That being said.....being positive means you fight!!! You don't give up. You keep going even when it hurts. You get up every day and get dressed and get some fresh air. You trust God that everything is going to be ok. You accept all the kindness of friends and family. You be your own advocate in your treatment (educate yourself and don't be afraid to question athority). This is your life!!!!

    Ok, here is some maximum lameness that helped me to stay positive. I have shared this with the group before. I hope you like Rocky, Rocky Balboa that is....... I LOVE Rocky movies!! I bought the Rocky Balboa soundtrack and would put it on during my chemo treatment, during very slow walks after surgery, and would visualize myself kicking cancers a**!! Have you seen the movie Rocky Balboa??? If not, rent it...... There is one line in that movie that has stuck with me. I used it as my mantra..... It goes something like...... "it's not how hard you can hit, it's how hard you can get hit. It's how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done" You may feel like your cancer has the upper hand right now, but you are taking the first steps in winning!!! You are meeting with an oncologist and surgeon and you will put together a plan and you will keep moving forward. There are going to be some bumps along the road, but you just keep going!!!!

    Your anxiety disorder I am sure is making things even more difficult. Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor and get your meds adjusted. There are a lot of us here that had to get help with anxiety, depression, etc. There is no need to suffer. Keep your doctors in the loop.

    Know that I am here for you . Feel free to email me anytime. I will be praying for you and your family. I know your Dad is having a tough time, mine took it the worst also. Be strong and talk things out. I have an amazing husband and family and I never felt like I couldn't discuss my diagnosis. Being so open helped me to cope and keep that attitude also.

    Take care and keep us posted!!

  • jsabol
    jsabol Member Posts: 1,145 Member
    Hi Jeanette,
    I am sorry that you have to be here, but welcome. I am Stage III, nearly 4 years out from chemo, with No Evidence of Disease (which means all clear) since surgery in 04. The stats you read about colon cancer are slanted by the large number of much older folks included in general survey studies, and, as others have said, do not include in some cases, the newest drug results.
    That said, you will get through this as we all do, one step and one day at a time and with a lot of help from your friends. I made a point of choosing to be around people who were supportive and helpful, and avoided the curious or negative ones like the plague. Be sure you have a doc and treatment team, part the onc nurses, that you can communicate openly with, then keep them informed and get all your questions answered.
    Best of luck to you,
  • impactzone
    impactzone Member Posts: 551 Member
    Stage 4 here. 48 with liver and lung resections and chemo. I took antidepressants immediately, went to a hospital and onc I felt good about (Stanford), after meeting many others. After trying to become the internet colon cancer expert, I stayed with only a few sites, like this one as it was helpful and positive. I listened to lots of music..using an ipod. I watched funny movies.... I stayed away from things that I knew would cause me too much stress, I worked throughout my treatment when I could. I graciously took help from people when they offered it and did not try to go it with just my family and 2 young kids. I did go to church much more regularily, I did only stay around positive people and eliminated "stuff" from y life. I really tried to eat well and walked a lot! I know it sucks and isn't fair. For me, it became a fight...and it was a mentality of fall down 7, stand up 8.

    Good luck and keep fighting
  • hopefulone
    hopefulone Member Posts: 1,043 Member
    Jeannette, Hi and welcome, a big hug and PLEASE read my personal web page. I know how scared you are .Ttake a deep breath and let me tell you right off the bat, no matter what stage it is or isn't, do not put a lot of faith in statistics . Most are outdated and MANY advances have been made. Do put a lot of faith in God and yourself . Hubby, stage IV, 2 major surgeries(when we were advised surgery not possible ) and now a year and a half later currently NED(no evidence of disease). Hope, faith, prayer and persistance and support are key. Believe that you will get through this and remember that faith makes things possible but not easy. God Bless !

  • Sam725
    Sam725 Member Posts: 87 Member
    Hi Jennette,
    Welcome to the board. I see that you have gotten alot of great advise from alot of great people on this board and they will continue to do that for you as long as needed. They are a bunch of great people and have helped me as a caregiver of my husband who was dx in Oct. of 06 with stage II CC. He goes in next week for his CT scans which is almost a year after his second surgery.
    I figured I'd pipe in and give you a caregivers perspective on all this. I remember the moment we were told my husband had cancer, (it was a routine colonoscopy he was 51) the first thought was "Oh no is he going to die,". I bet that was your husbands first thought also. I know you want him to be positive and upbeat and I know he will, but he has to deal with this and process all this also. He's going to be standing by wishing it was him, not you, wanting to do something and can't, and most likely become a internet cancer specialist and read all the depressing statistics that are out there which will scare him even more. Hopefully he can go to your appts. with you so he can take notes and ask questions too because like someone said you as the patient seem to go deaf! The more he knows like you, the more comfortable he will be with all this.Please encourge him to come to this web site. These people helped me understand what my husband was going through, they gave me advice on treating the side effects and encourged me to take care of myself too. Try to keep the lines of communication open with him because he will most likely be thinking something totally different than you if you are having a bad day. I guess what I am trying to say is as a caregiver you feel helpless and you want to take this away but you know you can't, so just know he loves you and will be there in the way he knows best. Take care, stay positive, have faith and take it one day at a time. God Bless.

  • Jbeckerdite
    Jbeckerdite Member Posts: 6
    Thank you thank you everyone! It's so good to hear positive stories. I got the results of my PET/CT scan yesterday and there are "no evidence of mets", so that was a nugget I'm holding onto. I had an MRI this morning to get a better look at the actual lesion (11 cm up and 3cm according to the surgeon who looked yesterday).

    Today I'm trying to have a more "normal" day. I still find myself getting introspective or something but I'm going to keep on going.

    Thanks again, and I'll be hanging around for awhile.
  • pamness
    pamness Member Posts: 524 Member

    Thank you thank you everyone! It's so good to hear positive stories. I got the results of my PET/CT scan yesterday and there are "no evidence of mets", so that was a nugget I'm holding onto. I had an MRI this morning to get a better look at the actual lesion (11 cm up and 3cm according to the surgeon who looked yesterday).

    Today I'm trying to have a more "normal" day. I still find myself getting introspective or something but I'm going to keep on going.

    Thanks again, and I'll be hanging around for awhile.

    In the popular vernacular - you go girl - you are going to get ahead of this thing.

  • Moesimo
    Moesimo Member Posts: 1,072 Member
    Welcome to our group. You will get through this. I rmember how scared i was when I was first diagnosed. It has now been almost 5 years since my surgery for stage 3 rectal cancer. I remain NED. I live in central MA and had my surgery at Brigham and Women's. You are at a great hospital. Find positive docs, tahts what you need right now.

    Take a deep breath and relax. You will get through this

  • dn220
    dn220 Member Posts: 79 Member
    Hi Jeanette and welcome. You have found a wonderful place to be for support and help. I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in May of 07, had my right kidney removed July12,2007. I continued to feel worse,weaker and weaker and then started having pain and rectal bleeding, finally convinced doctor that something was still going on and was diagnosed Nov 12,2007 with a 10cm mass in my rectum. Had chemo/radiation then had resection with permanent colostomy done on March 4 of this year. I am now having chemo treatments again for 6 months with folfox 6 treatment. It is very tough for me, still very weak, unable to work and now my just turned 17 year old daughter announces shes pregnant! So I guess what I am saying is cancer is horrible but u can beat it. my cancer was a stage 111 B with spread to 3 of 9 nodes. I am a single parent with 2 grown children who live pretty far away and no real support near me. My sister is my only support and she lives 900 miles away. Sounds like you have good support and that you have the right attitude. sure you are afraid, I am too. But all u can do is try to think positive and fight the evil beast with all u have.