I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer with mets to the liver in fall, 2013.  I ended up with surgical removal of two cancerous polyps, followed by six rounds of chemo and an iliostomy when the reconnection blew (sepsis) after I got home.  Emergency surgery fixed that one.  A year later the larger lobe of my liver was removed, and an attempted reconnection during that operation failed again (sepsis) and I almost died (for the second time).  

Wound healing from the liver resection took forever and now, a year later, I've ended up with a large hernia that runs clear across my abdomen just under the rib cage and below the incision they made to remove the larger liver lobe.  I have referred to my hernia as the foothills of the rocky mountains, because that's what it looks like when I glance down at my abdomen.  To go walking I have to wear a hernia belt, otherwise I don't have the strength to make it very far.

Last week I consulted with my surgeon and asked about the possibility of a hernia repair and yet another stab at getting my intestines up and running again.  She said that the reconnection was "technically possible,"but that she felt just a bit nervous given my history of infection and sepsis.  Still, she said that she would go ahead with it.  I feel the same sense of nervousness, but would also like to have it done.  

The hernia was also something she was willing to tackle, with the assistance of a plastic surgeon colleague.  She described how they would insert a biologic mesh (strattice, worth some $14,000) into my abdomen that would eventually grow cells (not sure how that works) and eventually act as a barrier to eliminate this large protrusion I have (which I believe is my small intestine pressing up against my belly like it's trying to escape).

I have yet to meet with the plastic surgeon and am wanting to formulate some questions to ask about these procedures.  My dilemma is really whether I should have both these procedurs done at the same time or to separate them by, let's say, six months to a year.  And following on that, if that's what I decide, which should I have done first.  Someone has suggested I just live with both these conditions, but they're not walking in my shoes so don't really know what it's like.  The bag I think I can live with, although it's reassuring to know that a reconnection is possible.  But the hernia is like a real intrusion into my life as I enjoy walking and hiking the backcountry.  Color me uncertain. 

I would appreciate any comments, opinions, and any descriptions others might have of their experiences with these kinds of difficulties and operations.  I look forward to any and all ideas and suggestions.

PS: All tumor marker tests and CT scans have failed to turn up any sign of cancer so far. 


  • beaumontdave
    beaumontdave Member Posts: 1,280 Member
    I've got a similar thing

    I've got a similar thing going on. The last liver resection went 8 inches up and 8 inchs right, and left me with a hernia to the right of the belly button, and the intestinal bulge wrapping around my right side. It looks like twin peaks in front. The asst. surgeon offered a surgical referral, at the one year check up, but what happens if a met pops up again? are they cutting through what I hear is some kind of titanium mesh? So I'm waiting for at least 2 years clear, and I'm not sure about that. In the mean time, I've got body wraps, but I don't wear them much, instead going with loose t-shirts and vest type stuff. I don't have any discomfort from the bulges, but I don't like feeling like Quasimodo either, never taking off my shirt. Small stuff compared to other's issues, I know, but I'll be interested to hear what you choose and how it goes if you do the fix before me. Otherwise I'll let you know what happens with me. Good luck to both of us...............................Dave

  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866 Member

    I have a rather large abdominal hernia for many years. I have absolutely no desire to go under the knife for that. IF I had to have something done down there I'd consider it I suppose. I've had my share of surgeries

  • John23
    John23 Member Posts: 2,122 Member
    Abdominal Surgeries

    Abdominal Surgeries

    One thing that must be kept in mind, is that any abdominal surgery can cause hernias and adhesions, and usually an operation to "fix" a hernia or adhesion often results in more hernias and adhesions.

    If you decide to have an abdominal operation, it would be better to get whatever needs to be done, accomplished at that time. Every operation results in scar tissue, and each subsequent operation can be more difficult due to the scar tissue from a previous surgery. Too bad they can't provide a zipper, ehh? It'd probably leak and ruin good shirts....

    The Mesh Implant is usually bovine (pig) derived and grows (grafts itself) into existing flesh. It may or may not provide enough support to hold in the hostile intestine. It will make any subsequent operation a bit more difficult, but it might be the only way to attempt to resolve the hernia. The mesh implant would have to cover a fairly wide area, but even so, the one area that's being pushed out is going to stretch the graft material just as it does normal skin. There may be some new products out there (maybe some steel radial threads from Michelin?)(ha), but some research would have to be done.

    There's no "easy fix", aside from wearing a hernia support belt..... And that might be your best choice.

    Best health wishes to you,


  • traci43
    traci43 Member Posts: 773 Member
    hernia repair

    My husband underwent hernia repair last year after his original repair failed.  The original used metal mesh that ended up poking into his intestine causing infection.  The latest repair used biologic mesh, his was pig.  They don't use metal any more because they frequently fail and/or scarring causes problems later on.  The big thing with hernia repair is to maintain a good weight.  I've been trying to get my husband to work with a PT or personal trainer to learn some abdominal exercises that don't involve crunches to strengthen his abdomen.

    My Mom's surgical hernia (from bypass surgery) has gotten bigger over time so I might suggest getting that done sooner rather than later.

    I have a colostomy and have decided that even though I've been fine 20 months post surgery (no cancer!) and could ask for a reconnection, I'm going to stick with the bag.  No more surgeries unless necessary.  That's my personal opinion.  I know iliostomies are more difficult than colostomies so I can understand you wanting to try one more time.  Good luck, Traci