Pros and Cons of traveling far away for treatment

EmilySB Member Posts: 2 Member
edited January 17 in Anal Cancer #1

Hi -

I don't have an official anal cancer dx yet, my biopsy is Friday, but my Dr. said it is likely cancer from the office exam he did last week. I have been having symptoms for a long time, but they have gotten worse (a lot of pain and bleeding) for about a month which lead me to the CR surgeon. I am trying to do all my research so if/when the dx comes I can be prepared and not overwhelmed.

I live in a mid-sized town with a local hospital that actually doesn't have the best reputation and is going through some problems right now, including be sanctioned by the state for some issues. There is one mid size oncologist practice center here. One oncologist in that practice lists anal cancer as a "specialty". The closest large university cancer centers are 2-3 hours from here (Duke and Wake Forrest).

I am a 47 yo mom with a 12 yo daughter and caring/supportive husband.

We have already decided that if it's cancer, then I am going to take a leave from work for maybe even up to 6 months, so we will take a hit on our income, but we will be ok. But it would be a major stretch for us to afford a place to stay while I am getting treatment, but we could probably swing it. I would also be alone, with no support. My husband owns his own business and couldn't leave with me, plus he would need to be home for our daughter. They could maybe come a few weekends to visit. I can't imagine being alone going through this. My mom could potentially come for some, but my dad needs care for an upcoming surgery, so she could maybe be with me for 1-2 weeks.

It sounds like the treatment for AC is pretty standard. Is it worth it to consider a major cancer center/university treatment? What can they offer that my local doctors can't. This is assuming stage 1-2/3. If stage 3/4, than I understand a larger cancer center would be the best way to go.

Thank you for any insight.


  • woodcraft
    woodcraft Member Posts: 1 Member

    Hi EmilySB,

    I used to occasionally post but haven't in a few years and had to sign up again to offer a reply.

    It sounds like you are reconciled to receiving a diagnosis of anal cancer. That was not easy for many of us to hear when it was our time. But is is great to hear that you have a supportive husband. You will need to lean on him in the weeks ahead if it turns out that is indeed AC.

    I could take a guess at where you live but won't do so online. Your description of hospital issues and the Duke and Wake Forest distance sounds familiar. I received a second opinion at Duke for my stage 3B diagnosis 7 years ago but decided to have treatment locally in western NC. Treatment protocol was the same so I didn't see any benefit of uprooting myself during the difficult weeks that were inevitable to come. I'm so glad I did. I felt entirely comfortable with the care I received. I had the radiation ocologist assume primary care as the bulk of treatment was radiation. That worked well for me though I'm sure others do it differently.

    I couldn't imagine going through treatment without support. Radiation zaps your energy and creates increasing discomfort and pain to the affected areas. Chemo also can make you feel sick. I needed someone to drive me most of the time. If you decide to keep your treatment local perhaps you could enlist friends and family to drive you when you're not up to it.

    I hope you are able to keep your treatment local as you will likely want to be comfortable in your own home and surroundings. Life can seem pretty bleak while you are in treatment so you'll need a lot of support. And your 12 year old might be a surprising source of help. Plus she might worry if you went away for treatment.

    If you do get a positive diagnosis here's hoping its a stage 1 or 2.

  • eihtak
    eihtak Member Posts: 1,473 Member


    I am so sorry you have found yourself having to deal with this but glad this group is here to help. My initial dx of stage 3b anal cancer was almost 12 years ago now. Over that time I also had an unrelated dx of breast cancer as well as some mets of the anal cancer. As of today I am doing great and living a full and active life. Those early days were filled with trying to learn so much as I’m sure that’s where you’re at now.

    I live in a smallish rural area but with fairly decent health care options. You are right in that typically treatment protocols are standard though there are always unique cases and different doctors do have some variation in preferences.

    As in another post, I found it really beneficial to stay in my hometown, off of work but with family and support from friends. I did however get a 2nd opinion from a larger cancer center and in my case the knowledge that they were in agreement with what my doctor was doing made me feel better. I did not have to go anywhere for that, and my medical team was helpful in sending my records for me. A good doctor should not be bothered at all if you ask for another opinion and like me, will hopefully help with that process.

    I will be thinking of you and praying for manageable results after your biopsy. Please come back and let us know. This is a great place to share with folks who truly “get” this whole ridiculous ride and we can help you through it.

    Be well…