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In search of answers

messer_j's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

My name is Jason I have stage 3 rectal cancer. I am 24 years old and have a strong family history of this disease. My father and my grandfather have had it. Mine is in the lower third of my rectume which I know is a bad spot. I had a full response to chemo & radiation. But I still must have surgery on June the 4th of 2004. I was diagnosed in Febuary 2 weeks before the birth of my son. I have remained posotive until now and the closer the surgery gets the more depressed I become. I know I am young and havea lot to live for.... I feel maybe talking to somone else might help. I know my father went through it but I feel it is hard for him to talk about it and seeing him recover haunts my thoughts of things to come. Any help dealing with this depression would be helpfull.

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Jason,

Feeling as you do is quite understandable and it might be a good idea to talk to a counsellor if you are really feeling depressed. You have so much going for you, however...your age, your baby son and good medications to help in your recovery. Seeing your father recover will bring back some memories but not everyone is the same and you may well sail through it all without any problems. It is amazing how one can look back and realize how far one has come since surgery/chemo/radiation. Let us hope that in a few months, all this will just be like a bad dream and you will be able to get on with your life. There are so many people on these boards who, I am sure, will encourage you, so keep coming back if you want more support. Good luck!

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Jason,
Welcome to the club, but so sorry you have to be here. Although I'm more than twice your age, it sure is scary to have my life currently ruled by fighting cancer. The good news is that we can win this fight. It's great that you had such a good response to your pre-op treatments.
I'm also stage 3, (now 3/4 through my course of chemo) and lost my dad at age 85 to recurrent colon cancer. It is hard to look back on his struggle, but he was such a trooper and I take inspiration from that. I'm sorry he's not here to urge me on.
Feeling worried and depressed about upcoming surgery is normal, but if you are having trouble sleeping, eating and getting through normal activities, it might help to ask your onc if they work with any counselors. Sometimes just airing out your worries to someone who has no relation to you is calming. (Works for me, at least)
There may also be some support groups or 1 to 1 volunteers from the American Cancer Society in your area. My good friend found the 1 to 1 volunteer to be a lifeline during her fight against breast cancer.
Although this feels like a lonely road, know that there are many of us who would like to lend a helping hand. I find it impossible to be positive all the time, but I think I am just being realistic and overall I do feel hopeful about full recovery.
Is this a first baby for you? It's enough of an adjustment to have a baby when things are all going well. I hope you are able to enjoy your new addition and take some pleasure out of his being with you.
Hang in there; wishing you more happy times ahead. Regards, Judy

kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

Hi Jason,

I'm sorry you are here at this site for your colon cancer, but you have found a great place for support, compassion, encouragement, love and lots of advice, suggestions and many many good ears and shoulders to lean on.

The diagnosis is very scary and we have all been through it. If you cannot come out of your depression, please seek out a counselor. There are some great meds to temporarily help you get through this until the light shines at the end of your tunnel. I too was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer and had 1/3 of my colon removed. That was 1 1/2 years ago. I've been off of chemo for almost one year and am beginning to feel normal again. Everyone handles the chemo differently, so seek help here any time and you'll hear from many people.

Take care. Keep us posted.


Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Jason. I also had stage 3 rectal cancer - very low (and resulting in a colostomy). In my opinion, it is very normal to go through periods of depression and anxiety. As a couple of others have suggested, you might want to be open to the possibility of seeing a counsellor and/or some anti-depressant medication to get you through a tough patch. I have done both, for short periods of time, and found both useful. I wish you all the best, and please keep in touch.

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hiya Jason from Australia--gee--mate--24--I am 49 and am so saddenned that so many young ones have been hit by this terrible scurge.
I have had over 1/3 my colon removed and 6 months chemo--hey--thats behind me now.As the others say--you can do it and there is a day when this will all seem like a dream.Sure -it will not totally go away--but time is on your side--and the fact that you will cope well because of your young age.
It has been said about depression so I can only concur with the great support these guys here have given you.
Do not be frightened to ask for support from a counsellor--I did--and it made the world of difference.
Mate---you can not carry this on your shoulders alone--you have every right to be angry and depressed.
The guys here will be here for you--as we are for each other.
Our luv and huggs--kanga and Jen

littlejulie's picture
Posts: 311
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi Jason,
im not the patient but i am a caregiver to my mother who has stage 3 rectal cancer as well. i think depression and anxiety come with the diagnosis. what helps me the most is talking to a professional and talking to people who have won the battle to rectal cancer. this website has SO many success stories that help. my doctor also precribed avitan (anti-anxiety med) in a very small dose 0.5. it helps me through sleepness nights.

jason - its great news that you had complete response to pre-op treatment!! when did you find that news out!! thats great!!!


Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Jason,
You and i unfortunately have a lot in common.i am 31 and was diagnosed in March with what looks like stage 2 or 3 low lying rectal cancer (can't be certain from the scans and only surgery will tell about the specific staging). The other thing we have in common is the arrival of our babies- my wife just delivered my first son a week ago, the day after I finished my five weeks of chemo and radiotherapy. Despite the incredible joy I feel at his arrival I do also feel that it is also another stressor that we have to cope with- many struggle with coping with a new baby by itself let alone in the midst of coping with cancer. I have struggled emotionally along the way despite supposedly having the professional skills to help otehrs cope as I am a psychiatrist. It is not easy and periods of feeling down and hopeless are normal. Nobody coulsd expect to go through this without periods of low moods.

the advise from others is here very helpful though. The best thing you can do is to talk to people about how you feel. If you can't do so to those around you then a professional such as a counselor who doesn't have the struggle of dealing with his own emotions about your illness may help. Do talk to your partner about how you feel though including any feelings about your child. Both my wife and I struggeld to cope with some ambivalent feelings of his imminent arrival as it felt like a stress we could do without and it is really hard to cope witht hte guilt of feeling negative about your own baby. It is however normal and your partner is probably feeling the same- talk to her about it.

Also use this website- I have found it very useful. If you want more 1:1 interaction do feel free to email me- we can probably be of use to each other through this so don't hesitate to contact me. Don't be scared or ashamed of feeling low or negative- we have all been there and know what it is like.

Finally try to find joy and pleasure where ever you can. I am now in my 6 week gap awaiting surgery and have taken time out to spend with my son and wife which I am enjoying immensely.

i hope this is of some help. I know I felt less alone after using this site and knowing others are in similar positions.

Best of luck,

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Well said Steve--your line of work and the support you can provide to all of us is invaluable mate.As a 49 y/o and having enjoyed a life with a loving wife and 3 kids I can only imagine the difficulties you and Jason are now dealing with.
There is a big advantage being able to discuss our cancers with family and close friends.Unfortunately many people tend to shut themselves out of our lives because they find it extremely difficult to deal with cancer--and to talk about it.
Jen and I took the "open" approach to the whole thing--discussing it with anyone willing to listen(as I said above we also sought help from a psychologist)
That is not to say we sought "sympathy" nor pushed the issue onto our friends--we simply found that almost everyone was shy to talk about cancer---everone basically looked on it as a death sentence, which of course it is not!
Almost everone when asked of their reluctance to discuss it replied; "we wouldn't know what to say to a cancer sufferer!"
This seemed to be the common response--once past that--they were fine--then began to understand how we, as cancer patients have to deal with all sorts of emotions.
nuph said from me,
our love and best wishes to you and Jason
kanga and Jen

messer_j's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

I would like to thank you all for your support. Thisis my first child to answer one question. To be honest the thing that bothers me about the surgery is what they will be doing while I am under. A lot of people find this strang since I will be under. I worked through my 25 treatments of chemo and radiation. I am not scared of the recovery. I am scared of the knife and somones hands in my body. I guess it's a control issue. I'm not in control when I'm on the table. The other part is the fact that I do not know if the colostomy will be peramenant until I wake up. I have a plaque in my home that says Cherish yesterday, dream tomorow, live today. I know this is how I should be!!! I wrote this on one of my down days and today I have mixed emotions. but I will say this ALL of your comments have really helped.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2004

G'day Jason, Sorry to meet you here mate,but life has a habit of throwing things at you that you dont expect. I got my rectal cancer for my 60th birthday(sort of) and somehow it never phased me. Dont ask me why I just plodded along with the help(a LOT) of my wife. I can honestly say that it hardly affected my mental state(maybe steve could answer that one).Like you I like to be in control,but surgery had to be done and I hate hospitals etc.The morning of my op,i was so calm that even I was surprised.The profesionals in our hospitals know their work and I just put my faith in them.My recover was excellent through my physical condition(i was told) and your age is on your side so you wont have any probs mate. Even if you end up with a bag on your side its not the end of the world you have a young family and all of your life ahead of you.As my wife tells me when I get a little down"you're better off smelling the tops of the flowers than the roots". I fave finished my chemo now and getting ready to look for work again.All you need is the right attitude,a loving wife and some GOOD friends and as we say down here'she'll be right cobber'. All the best and keep in touch Terry

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