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Honey, I Shrunk the Tumor

Starleen
Posts: 40
Joined: Feb 2007

So, when they said chemo and radiation will shrink the tumor before surgery, I guess I was picturing it magically getting smaller a' la "Honey I Shrunk the Kids". Um, no! Chunks of it are coming off...and out. That's a good thing, but GROSS!

Also, I am still taking pain meds three weeks after chemo/radiation. I have stage 2 or 3 rectal and my bum hurts right inside-a bm is excruciating. Is this normal to still be inflamed like that? I feel like I have been taking pain medication so long I won't be able to stop without withdrawal.

KierstenRx's picture
KierstenRx
Posts: 249
Joined: Nov 2006

Starleen,
The pain I had from my chemo and radiation was unreal. I am stage 3 rectal paitent. I have never had pain like that and I couldn't explain it to anyone. Bowel movements were the worst!!! It felt like raszor blades. I really started hurting the last 2 weeks of treatment. I began questioning my doctors is this really worth doing??? The pain for me peaked about 2 weeks after stopping, then slowly went away. However I did still have rectal pain right up until surgery 2 months later. The pain is definitely worth it because my pathology report came back as all the tumor was removed (it was basically a burnt out shell) and 99% was dead, only a live cell here and there. They were able to get clear margins and no lymphe node involed (the radiation and chemo killed the cancer in 2 lymph nodes).
As far as the pain medicine. Keep taking it. There is no reason to be in severe pain. I took Lortab around the clock for almost 4 weeks. It really helped get back to my daily life until surgery. I did have withdrawals, but I have to say it is my own fault. I stopped cold turkey. Instead I should have slowly taperd off the medicine, then I don't think withdrawal would be a problem. Just slowly decrease the about of tabs you are taking every few days. Please keep me posted. When will you be having surgery??
You will be in my thoughts.

Kiersten

Starleen
Posts: 40
Joined: Feb 2007

Kiersten, you hit the nail on the head. I think your description is identical to my experience, and your results are so encouraging! Despite the agony, I totally believe it will be worth it, it's just a matter of getting through this. I'm young and this came as a shock, but I think I'll be ok. I am just shocked at all the drugs! Oxycontin, Vicodin. Paxil for the situational depression, Ambien to counteract the Paxil at bedtime. Cipro for the infections I acquired while my immunity is weak, suppositories for inflammation. Geez!

I'm still upbeat. My surgery is early June. I'm actually looking forward to the time off. I've been working 40-50 hours this whole time. My blood is good, the pain meds are helping. I'm good. A bump in the road, baby!

Congratulations on your success. You are so inspiring.

minniemoose's picture
minniemoose
Posts: 10
Joined: May 2005

Hello...I was stage three colorectal which had spread to the uterus...I had 20 radiation treatments before surgery and boy was my bum sore too...it was burnt and blistered....I used to sit in a bath of cold water after I had been to the loo....

One tip thenurse gave me was to lie on thebed with a fan going pointed at thebarebum...helped cool things down and dry the sore spots up....

It did shrink the tumour a bit which was a good thing before surgery....

So hang in there it will get over then your poor bum will heal......it is normal to feel discomfort...if theoutside gets too sore try the cold bath or the fan...
Mine was three years ago and I am now doing well...have a colostomy for my pains...but it isn't too bad...better than the alternative....you hang tough and all will be well...

4law's picture
4law
Posts: 112
Joined: Dec 2004

I had 6 weeks combo chemo and radiation -- very painful. I found that patches on my chest were the best relief for pain. After several weeks for healing from chemo-radiation, I had surgery -- the tumor was gone -- the chemo/radiation destroyed it and lymph nodes were all negative. I followed up for several months of chemo and now over 2 years after surgery I am NED. The pain is there because your tumor is being destroyed so that your surgery will be less invasive. Radiation is just another way of saying your tumor is being burned away. Of course the result is pain -- and because it is in an area that is constantly being irritated by bm's -- will take a long time to heal, Stick with it -- it does get better. This is a nasty disease and it has to be dealt with harshly. Browse through the messages in this group and you will see that people have beat this disease -- you must believe -- and never give up.

KierstenRx's picture
KierstenRx
Posts: 249
Joined: Nov 2006

Starleen,
It does sound like we are in a similar situation. You said you are young and this was a total surprise. I was 32 last September when my rectal cancer was diagnosed. It was the biggest shock of my life. I did the 6 weeks/chemo radiation, had surgery Feb 5th, and am on my 5 of 8 chemo treatment (Folfox plus Avastin). I see the light and you will too. The amazing thing about the body is you eventually forget about how bad the pain was. I ended up with a permanent colostomy and also had a hysterectomy done. The colostomy is sometimes a pain, but it is better than the alternative and....guess what??? My quality of life is so much better. No more rectal pain, no more 15-20 trips to the bathroom, no more constipation feelings, no more hemmorhoids. You have a long road, but just take it day by day. Keep your positive attitude, keep your faith, and stay active on these message boards, they have been a life savor for me and have really helped get through each step...

Kiersten

moniquebar
Posts: 57
Joined: Jun 2006

Yes, this cancer-thing is a little gross at times. That said, great news that your treatments are working.

Last summer, while undergoing chemo, my bottom burned like a SOB every time I had a job to do. Quite honestly, I think that the burning and pain were my very worst symptoms of the chemo. Check out Rodney's webpage as he goes into great detail about fissures etc, and manages not only to be really funny about his terrible experience, but also a great resource.

As far as the pain went, hot baths seemed to work for me....somewhat. Others have mentioned baby wipes. And don't worry about the pain medications for now. That's what they're for--pain. According to a nurse friend--most people don't become addicted.

Monique

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