Just found out I have cancer

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40 y/o male.  Had a colonoscopy yesterday (Friday) following abdominal pain and blood in stool.  I pushed for the scope, Dr thought just IBS.  Lo and behold, a large mass in the descending colon (about halfway up), so large it almost blocked it.  I await the official word that it is cancer based on biopsy, but doc said it certainly looks like cancer.  No staging yet, obviously.  The past 24 hour have been a whirlwind of tears and disbelief.  I know I am supposed to be upbeat and optimistic, but I am full of despair and fear that it has metastasized and I am on a short clock.

I have a consult with the surgical oncologist in 10 days, which seems like an eternity.  

How do I tell people at work?

Should I get different opinions on best path forward?  Who do I even call?  Our local hospital is pretty good, but it isnt MD Anderson.  

How do I keep my head right?

 

Thanks for listening.  I want to live.

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Comments

  • Cinnamon Jones
    Cinnamon Jones Member Posts: 21 Member
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    I was in your shoes last year

    I was in your shoes last year and was so afraid.  Between the consults and tests it seemed like an eternity.  The doctor who did the colonoscopy also told me he was sure it was cancer.  That was October 10 and I didn't have surgery until December 1.  But l learned that this type of cancer is usually slow growing so I had time to get things in order.  By the time I had surgery I just wanted it over.  You will likely have a CAT, maybe MRI.  And you will know more about your situation before you have surgery.  

    As far as work goes, I told my manager and then sent out an email to my coworkers.  I didn't want to have to repeat my situation over and over.  The support was amazing.  

    The surgery went amazingly well as.  I was actually planning my funeral at on point I was so afraid.  I was discharged on the second post op day.  No colostomy.  I had stage 2a and chose not to have chemo.  I will follow up annually and that is scheduled for January.  I'm in MN and went to the U of M.  Thought they were just excellent.  Also consulted with the Mayo Clinic .  Prays for peace and a good prognosis and speedy recovery for you.  There are a lot of people on this forum to support you.  

  • ScaredButFighting
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    I was in your shoes last year

    I was in your shoes last year and was so afraid.  Between the consults and tests it seemed like an eternity.  The doctor who did the colonoscopy also told me he was sure it was cancer.  That was October 10 and I didn't have surgery until December 1.  But l learned that this type of cancer is usually slow growing so I had time to get things in order.  By the time I had surgery I just wanted it over.  You will likely have a CAT, maybe MRI.  And you will know more about your situation before you have surgery.  

    As far as work goes, I told my manager and then sent out an email to my coworkers.  I didn't want to have to repeat my situation over and over.  The support was amazing.  

    The surgery went amazingly well as.  I was actually planning my funeral at on point I was so afraid.  I was discharged on the second post op day.  No colostomy.  I had stage 2a and chose not to have chemo.  I will follow up annually and that is scheduled for January.  I'm in MN and went to the U of M.  Thought they were just excellent.  Also consulted with the Mayo Clinic .  Prays for peace and a good prognosis and speedy recovery for you.  There are a lot of people on this forum to support you.  

    Thanks, CJ.  Your words mean

    Thanks, CJ.  Your words mean a lot - you have no idea.

     

  • ScaredButFighting
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    I was in your shoes last year

    I was in your shoes last year and was so afraid.  Between the consults and tests it seemed like an eternity.  The doctor who did the colonoscopy also told me he was sure it was cancer.  That was October 10 and I didn't have surgery until December 1.  But l learned that this type of cancer is usually slow growing so I had time to get things in order.  By the time I had surgery I just wanted it over.  You will likely have a CAT, maybe MRI.  And you will know more about your situation before you have surgery.  

    As far as work goes, I told my manager and then sent out an email to my coworkers.  I didn't want to have to repeat my situation over and over.  The support was amazing.  

    The surgery went amazingly well as.  I was actually planning my funeral at on point I was so afraid.  I was discharged on the second post op day.  No colostomy.  I had stage 2a and chose not to have chemo.  I will follow up annually and that is scheduled for January.  I'm in MN and went to the U of M.  Thought they were just excellent.  Also consulted with the Mayo Clinic .  Prays for peace and a good prognosis and speedy recovery for you.  There are a lot of people on this forum to support you.  

    Forgot to add -CT scans

    Forgot to add -CT scans monday

  • Tunadog
    Tunadog Member Posts: 235 Member
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    Hoping for the Best Outcome..

    The journey is especially hard mentally in the beginning..

    Keep thinking positive.

    Peace

  • ScaredButFighting
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    Thanks NewHere and TunaDog.

    Thanks NewHere and TunaDog.

  • NewHere
    NewHere Member Posts: 1,427 Member
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    Try To Breathe

    Sorry you are here, but it is a great place to be.  First thing it try to pause for a second and breathe.  You are young and that helps. 

    Not sure where you live, but it is always a good idea to go for a second opinion if possible.  (You may wait until you get the news.)  Put your questions and concerns together.  Ask ANYTHING that pops into your head.  Get comfortable.  (I am going for a remote second opinion at Mass General right now, Cleveland Clinic and Dana Farber also have these available, as do some others.  MD Anderson will do it also.  They are a bit more complicated.  And in some cases you need to fly down for 3-5 days.  But to put your mind at ease, could be worth it.)  Mass General is $850 for remote second opinion.  It takes about two weeks to get a second opinion.  (Mass is Top 15 cancer hospital, #11, in rankings.  MD Anderson is #1, MSK is #2, Dana Farber is 3 or 4 I think.)  Heck, start it now.  (Not sure where you are located)

    Do NOT get caught up in stats and prognosis.  They are based on stats which include older people who cannot have treatment when cancer is discovered and many other things which do not apply to you.  Also the stats are based on data that is usually five years old.

    Do NOT get caught up in too much Dr. Google.  There is a ton of snake oil out there preying on fears.  Try to avoid it or believe it.  (I am actually pursuing some alternative treatments now, long story, but it is not some of the total BS being fed out there.  We can discuss this more.)

    Before my diagnosis the thought of cancer and chemotherapy was the heinous monster under the bed which chilled my blood frozen.  Once you are in it, it is not as bad as the imagination (at least for me.)  

    I had no symptoms, found by accident about three years ago.  Had surgery, chemo, met to lung (which was there from beginning), surgery for that.  (Due to a rare met, I am back in the game as as of a few weeks ago, but MANY here have had success, even with advance cancers.  Stage IVB types.)

    Try to exercise and eat well to get in shape, the better shape you are in, the better you can deal with whatever is coming up.  I prepped for my lung surgery by walking and running, check in to check out was under 36 hours, including the surgery to remove a chunk of my lung.  It was easy (for the most part.)  Was walking three miles a day two days later.

    Again, try to breathe and take care of yourself.  

    Again, sorry to see you here for obvious reasons, but welcome.

  • Mikenh
    Mikenh Member Posts: 777
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    I was there back this past

    I was there back this past June. I had Oncology and Radiation consults within a week and it took another two weeks to get second opinions at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It's best to move as fast as you can even though it may not seem like it's fast enough. The scans will either confirm or rule out spread and they should be able to have a clue about regional lymph nodes.  I could tell you to relax and not be anxious but I know how I felt and it's hard to relax and not be anxious. I did find that exercise helped in many ways.

    My approach to telling others is that I told close family and relatives, my manager, and very close friends. I revealed it to other coworkers later on. One coworker had cancer a year before mine so I chatted with him as well. The forums have been a source of great help and comfort because there are so many that have gone before me and many that were going through the same process, some a week or two ahead of me and some behind and you learn what's coming from those ahead of you.

  • Bellen
    Bellen Member Posts: 281 Member
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    Telling Others

    Hello - I'm sorry that you have joined our group - but this is a great group who are so supportive and knowledgeable.  I always make a list of questions each time I meet with my Oncologist, and go over my symptoms.  I was diagnosed last summer with CRC with multiple liver mets - told inoperable.  My cancer was initially found through an abdominal ultrasound which saw spots in my liver, then a CT scan, liver biopsy, then a colonoscopy.  I have been on a chemo combo called Folfiri with avastin.  Many group members have had Folfox instead of Folfiri.  Of course, I have unpleasant side effects at times that I have had to deal with.  I believe that many Cancer Centers use similar treatments for our type of cancer - of course, if there are mets to an organ, your chemo may be a combination of chemos - a cocktail.  This group is great for helping with suggestions, type of treatment they had, overall helping.  I also sent an email to everyone explaining that I was diagnosed and having treatment - also mentioned that I didn't want to talk about my illness when I was out socializing - just have fun and enjoy myself.  My friends all respected that and when I feel good I get out as much as I can.  I wish you all the best and post any questions, etc that will help you through this journey you may be on.

  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,800 Member
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    Five years and counting....

    and counting high at that. I'd say at least 20. 

    I was diagnosed exactly five years ago this week.  Because of an almost complete blockage, I had my surgery within two weeks. Oh, it was a long two weeks. Filling my head with all of the horrors that a Cancer diagnosis brings. I'm going to die! I'm going to have chemo! I'm going to lose my hair! I'm going to die! Oh yeah, the 'I'm going to die' part came up over and over again, until I thought my head was going to explode (and I mean, I literally thought my head was going to explode). 

    Because of the blockage, there was no time to do any research into a surgeon. I live in rual Nevada; the big city (hospital and Oncologists) 600 miles round trip. So, off I went for surgery. Successful, yes. Thank you Mr. Surgeon. 

    Then it was back to the big city for many appointments. Oncologist - assigned to me by my PCP. Radiatoin Oncologist - assigned to me by my Oncologist. Another surgery to place a port - God bless that port. If you're offered one, GET IT. 

    Then there was chemo. Six months of it. Then there was Radiationa and 24/7 chemo. Six weeks of it. Then there was CT scans. Then there was Liver met. Then there was surgery. Then there was THREE YEARS SEVEN MONTHS NED - No Evidence of Disease - Those beautiful words. 

    Now I wait for my next Oncology visit on the 27th, and expect to hear those beautiful words 'you have no evidence of disease', again. 

    So yeah. Rough journey ahead. Whats that road sign 'BUMPY ROAD AHEAD'  

    Those first few weeks though, my oh my, they are tough. All the dark thoughts flooding in. Terrible time! But, as soon as you get started on scans, surgery, treatment, you start to feel more in control - for the most part - Doing something about it, ireally helps put it into perspective. 

    Being here on the forum, meeting these wonderful people, some are in the fight, some are surviving, some have loved ones fighting, and some loved ones pop back in now and again to share their thougts. You have it all, right here.  You will find someone at each point of the journey who can relate, and help you though. 

    Take the time to feel the pain, the shock of this diagnosis. You life is about to change, but your life is definitely NOT over. Stats are old. Out of date. We have come a long way these past ten years. Many, many Stage IV survivors, and I am one of them. 

    Chin up. Onward and upward, new friend. You will do well. 

    image

    Tru

  • ScaredButFighting
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    I am in tears at all the

    I am in tears at all the goodwill, love and support that is being offered here.  Thank you.

    This is such a strange feeling.  Cancer is a thing that happens to OTHER people, not to me.

     

  • ScaredButFighting
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    Sorry - that probably sounded

    Sorry - that probably sounded rude.  Not my intention.  It just feels like an out of body experience to actually have cancer.

     

  • SophDan2
    SophDan2 Member Posts: 150 Member
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    Sorry - that probably sounded

    Sorry - that probably sounded rude.  Not my intention.  It just feels like an out of body experience to actually have cancer.

     

    Get all of the facts first

    So sorry that you are in this situation. It is a shock to your (our) system, when you hear that you have a canccer. I was diagnosed with stage 3C colon cancer last May. I had surgery to remove the cancerous portion of my colon, along with attached lymph nodes. I have just completed 6 months of chermo, and feeling positive that it is gone from my body. Why dwell on the the worst case scenario without having the facts? I also went for a second opinion, which I felt more comfortable with. You could discuss with people in your geographical area, as I'm sure you could be referred to the best doctors in your area.

    I am fortunate to live just north of Boston, so Mass General Hospital is where I hade my surgery and follow up treatments.

    With regard to my co-workers, I told those that were closest to me firsty, and as time went on I asked them to share the news with coworkers I really wasn't that close to. It is and will be a learning curve on how to deal with this diagnosis; every one of us has dealt with it in our own way, but wer are all here to support and share our thoughts and experiences with each other.

     

    Good luck and look at the glass as being half full not half empty!

     

  • Lily Flower
    Lily Flower Member Posts: 260 Member
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    Sorry that you have to join

    Sorry that you have to join this forum but this is a great place to come to. We have many wonderful and caring people here that will give advice and support. Some are patients (like me), some are caregivers and some are survivors. 

    Colon cancer is treatable and even curable. You will have to go through some blood tests, Ct scans and MRI before the suregery. Then followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. 

    Being scared is normal. When my GI doctor first told me that I have a tumor in my colon and it didn't look good. I was stunned and I was already planning my funeral in my head. That was back in July. Since I had surgery and I'm currently half way done with my chemo.

    Don't read up the WebMD. I almost gave myself a heart attack reading it right after my tumor was discovered. I know it's easier said than done but worry will only stress yourself more. I know waiting is the worse. Keep yourself busy at mean time. You will beat this! 

    I only let few of my close coworkers know. Eventually everyone noticed I was missing and curious and wanted to know what happened to me. They texted and FB messaged me. After my surgery I posted on my FB. By that time it didn't bother me for everyone to know. 

  • Annabelle41415
    Annabelle41415 Member Posts: 6,742 Member
    edited November 2017 #15
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    So very sorry

    First off it's good that they found what was causing your problem.  Second, you need to find out from a CT scan what they find and then the staging.  Third, you are going to need an oncologist that deals with your specific cancer and can put you on a treatment that can be successful.  Fourth, You need to get a great surgeon.  One that is going to cut that out if that is what is recommended.  Fifth, you need to come here and express your concerns and worries so that we can help you get through this.  Please keep us informed.  We can help you and give you much needed experience and advice as we have all been through it  - maybe not all of you will be going through but most of it.  Wishing you well and praying for you.

    Kim

  • darcher
    darcher Member Posts: 304 Member
    edited November 2017 #16
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    Cancer sucks

        I recall all too well the day I found out,  June 19. I was a complete mess, still am to some degree but a little more polished and composed. Your about to go through a lot of life changing events.  There is no way around it but keep in mind that what ever you do.  DO AS THE DOCTORS TELL YOU!   Most of them have a lot of experience, training, etc, and know exactly how to handle this.  We don't.  No matter how much reading you do you'll never catch up on 10 years+ of education and training.  If you're given an option take the one that results in more treatment, not less.  The better you are at that the better you'll finish.

      I'm sure you've read survivor stats.  We all did at first. Here are some facts they don't disclose that skew them.  After talking to the medical staff I've learned a few things. A good portion of the people who don't survive don't because they did not keep all their appointments, did not take all their pills, or wandered off thinking some ancient chinese herb or some other unproven nonsense is going to cure them.  Two examples.  While I was going to radiation I was told a lot of people quit before they're done.  Another is while waiting to pick up a load of chemo pills I saw a short clip on the TV in the waiting room that said only about 20% of the prescriptions issued are taken as prescribed.  Also, a number of those survivor stats are based on older people (70+) getting this from 20 years back. Not to seem morbid but some of them were going to die within the 5 or 10 years anyhow plus what we have now in procedures is a lot better.   At 40, even if it's stage 4 you'll make it through just fine.  Age and physical make up matters a lot. 

      Dealing with others whether it be wives, husbands, relatives, co-workers etc, keep this in mind.  They do not have cancer, you do. That was a mistake I made expecting a certain level of compassion  That's impossible and until a person has this there is no comparison to something else.  You'll get mad, sad, and all sorts of other things.  I've got a garage door and dryer with big dents so a little anger is perfectly fine and normal. 

      Time will be your enemy for the moment.  It's also ok to push for sooner appointments.  Be dramatic if need be on the phone. It worked for me in the beginning to get some of the tests done quicky.  Depending on several factors you could have an ultrasound, PET scan, CT scan, MRI, or others.  Purpose is to get the treatment ball rolling as soon as possible. 

      The treatments can start with surgery or could be radiation and chemo prior to surgery.  It will depend on where the tumour is and of course its size and so forth.  In case you're wondering, if yours is up as high as you indicated you won't end up with a bag.  That's also everyone's big fear.  I had chemo and radiation at the same time up until Sept 11.  I then had surgery which was just 2 weeks ago.  Side affects from any of that can vary wildely from person to person.  Some of them will sneak up on you without you realizing so it's a good idea to have someone monitor your drinking/eating habits.  I lost my sense off thirst and hunger plus the added bonus of getting forgetful as someone with dimensia.  I'm not convinced it's tied to the chemo entirely since a good portion of your thoughts are going to be one thing, I've got cancer. It's inescapable and will cloud your judgment and just about everything else for a while until you've got solid answers and know the course of action.  If you've got a hobby or some activity try to put as much time to it as you can.  It's not perfect but you'll find it can distract you from this for a while.

      I'm now waiting to start the post surgery chemo and ran head on into a disagreement between the surgeon and oncologist.  The surgeon said there was no lymph node involvement and it didn't appear there ever was.  The oncologist said he didn't buy that since the chemo/radiation I had prior to surgery MIGHT have masked it.  He said it was exceedingly rare to have a tumour the size I did and it not be invasive.  He wanted to give me the standard stage 3 follow up.  The purpose of which is to ensure the next PET scan doesn't show it's moved to greener pastures.  I told him I know enough to know I don't know so what ever he suggests I'll go along with. For the next four to six months I'll be a little miserable again but in the long run there won't be any regrets.  My comfort is knowing I've done what I'm supposed to.   

      

  • ScaredButFighting
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    Again, thank you all.  Your

    Again, thank you all.  Your words are giving me hope and courage (between bouts of tears and rage).  

     

  • NewHere
    NewHere Member Posts: 1,427 Member
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    Sorry - that probably sounded

    Sorry - that probably sounded rude.  Not my intention.  It just feels like an out of body experience to actually have cancer.

     

    Still Is For Me

     It just feels like an out of body experience to actually have cancer.

     

  • betula
    betula Member Posts: 86
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    I am sorry

    I am sorry that you have to be here but you have come to the right place.  My husband was diagnosed with rectal cancer Dec 13, 2016...almost a year now.  Seems like a blurr. This board has been invaluable to me for questions, information, and support.  

    I cannot even begin to put into words the roller coaster of emotions, etc that we went through.  Just know that what ever you are feeling is okay, this is tough road!

     

  • Phoenix_66
    Phoenix_66 Member Posts: 118
    edited November 2017 #20
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    Stay Strong

    Sorry you are going through this, but I was in your exact place over 11 years ago at age 39 (see, not the death sentence some might think).  I too had blood in my stool that prompted a colonoscopy that found a large mass nearly blocking my colon in almost the same place as yours. After surgery, I received the dreaded news that it was Stage 3 cancer due to some mets in nearby lymph nodes. I underwent 6 months of chemo and was declared NED until the cancer came back as Stage 4 in 2013 as mets to the liver. I again underwent surgery and another 6 months of chemo followed up by 1.5 years of maintenance chemo. I was declared NED again until it returned this year as mets to another lymph node and in the vertibrae. I just completed another standard chemo regiment and am now doing 1 year of maintenance chemo but am NED for the third time. I feel pretty good (or my new normal) despite the lingering fatigue that goes along with chemo treatments.

    Just remember, everyone is different and how they respond to treatment is different. Do not let any statistics get you down because they don't always apply to every situation. How your body responds to cancer and treatments has A LOT to do with your attitude and mental state. Not sure how you feel about faith, but I can honestly say that this whole experience has definately brought me closer to God and to my family. I don't know how those who do not believe in God are able to cope with the struggle of having cancer. One of my favorite scripture verses that really helped me put perspective on my own battle is Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and couraeous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

    Even though this is not something you know how to cope with now, we are all here to support you through this fight. I will be praying for good results on your upcoming tests.

  • ScaredButFighting
    ScaredButFighting Member Posts: 21
    edited November 2017 #21
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    Thanks again.  Just had CT

    Thanks again.  Just had CT scans and fought to get my surgeon appointment moved up to tomorrow.  I have no problem being a squeaky wheel to take care of my health!