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rectum cancer

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Hello All, My 83 year old Dad has rectum cancer. His tumor is about 5cm. and up in the rectum. He will be starting rad. and chemo within a week or so. He is a very healthy and wonderful 83 year old. The cancer seems to be contained. We are all scared about how he will handle the rad. and chemo. He has to do it for 5 weeks. Any experience with this will help. Thank You. And God Bless anyone dealing with cancer.

PGLGreg's picture
PGLGreg
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

And then looking forward to surgery after the radiation and chemo? I had radiation and chemo for rectal cancer 2 years ago, when I was 63. It wasn't that bad. I needed Lomotil to control the diarrhea. I wish your dad luck.

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Thank You for your reply. Yes he will have surgery afterwards. the doctors are hoping the tumor will shrink. How was recoverey after surgery? I hope you are well today. Thanks again.

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PGLGreg
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

I had radiation and chemo after surgery, rather than before. After surgery I was in the hospital 10 days, longer than usual, but had no problem recovering. I did acquire an addiction to watching the Food Channel on TV. I'm fine now, thanks.
-Greg

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krystiesq
Posts: 242
Joined: Jun 2008

My mom watches the food channel ALL the time!

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kristasplace
Posts: 956
Joined: Oct 2007

Hello! I'm surprised they are doing radical treatments on your dad, but that's a great sign that they think he's strong enough to handle it. The radiation makes you very tired. If he's doing the rads with the 5FU pump, make sure he knows the 5FU makes you prone to 3rd degree sunburns, so he should stay out of the sun.

The chemo is a light dose, and just used at this stage to help the radiation shrink the tumor. Mine was 3cm, and this part of the treatment pretty much killed it. I had surgery 12 weeks after that because of complications, and i also spent longer in the hospital than is typical. The surgery recovery was arduous, but with my family's support, i got through it just fine. It's a long road even from that point. He will appreciate you being around to support him, and keep his spirits up.

One of my girlfriend's Mother's developed colon cancer when she was around your father's age, and she beat it, and lived another fifteen years with a permenant ostomy. It was a heart attack that took her life.

Let us know how he does!
Many hugs,
Krista

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Thank You for your reply Krista, The team of doctors feel my Dad is not a typical 83 year old He is very active. He drives, cooks, gardens etc. He has no major health promblems and takes no medicine, just vitamins. His chemo is pill form. Its been a very emotional few weeks for the whole family. He has a great support team. There are 4 siblings, and lots of grandkids. Thanks for any support during this time. God Bless

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4law
Posts: 112
Joined: Dec 2004

His treatment protocol seems to be fairly standard. He should use imdoium and pain meds (the "patch" worked best for me) for any discomfort -- his rear end will become very tender. Following surgery he may have a long period of chemo. It's a long road and it can be literally a real pain in the ***. However, I bet he is in good shape and mostly has lived an active life and therefore will have the strength to get through this. 85 is just a number -- I bet there are 58's who are not in as good shape as your dad -- so he should be able to beat this crumby disease.

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi. Sorry to learn about your Dad's diagnosis, but a warm welcome to this discussion board. I was diagnosed with rectal cancer almost 6 years ago. I also had chemoradiation (before surgery, then more chemo afterwards -- I had Stage III cancer).

As I am sure you are learning, everyone's reactions and side effects can differ. But I'll share my own. The side effects from the chemo were pretty mild: some fatigue, some nausea. I was on 5FU drip. You mentioned he is on a pill. That may be Xeloda -- which can cause some hand and foot skin issues....

The radiation also caused me some fatigue. This kicked in about 2 weeks after the radiation started and lasted about 2 weeks after it ended (the radiation continues to work for a while - yea). Also caused diarrhea. And, in my case, signficant skin "burn" around my bum (excuse). I have very sensitive skin, so I hope your Dad is spared this. If he experiences this, talk to doctors, nurses, about what to do -- they will be able to recommend creams and other remedies.

I hope your Dad sails through this with minimal side effects. He sounds like a real 'trouper'! Best wishes to you both.

Tara

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vinny3
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

I had the same cancer and treatment (but iv infusion of the 5-FU instead of the pills). Your father may not notice too much for about the first two weeks. The main side effects come from the radiation. There will be some burning of the bottom that is noticeable after a couple of weeks which eventually feels like your bottom is on fire. That lasts for two to three weeks after finishing radiation. I used something like vaseline to help a bit. They suggested sitting in the tub also but I don't have one. The other main effect from radiation is fatigue. Taking naps helps but also doing some walking for exercise helped me. The main effect of the pills can be some nausea (I didn't have that) and some spots, mainly on the face, may break out or "light up". These are usually precancerous skin spots that then heal when done with the chemo and the skin actually looks better than it did before. After recovering from the chemo/radiation then surgery is usually done. I had an excision just of the area where the cancer was. For some that takes care of it, for me though the cancer recurred in 8 months so then I had a larger surgery and more chemo. If your father has the local excision surgery talk to the surgeon to make sure he/she takes out a large enough area to lessen the chance of it coming back.

We will include your father and family in our thoughts and prayers, Dick

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PGLGreg
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Dick says, "I used something like vaseline to help a bit." My radiation oncologist gave me a tube of Aquaphor, though the radiation didn't burn me, as it turned out. I had diarrhea and gas.

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Thank You for taking the time to reply to my comments. My dad is a small man say 5'6 about 140lbs{he has loss weight from the cancer] He has a good appetite and eats but I guess the weight is coming off because of the disease, The doctor also said it too. Has anyone experience weight loss from rectum cancer? Any ideas to keep the weight on? We are gonna buy the ensure shakes for him to drink. He's a coffee man. We dont want him to lose too much weight. He is very strong, this morning when I talked to him, He was picking the last of tomatoes from his garden and pulling out the plants, so he is still keeping busy. We only know him to be this way so it is very scary for us. Thank You for listening and God Bless

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Ensure shakes are a good idea. I personally couldn't tolerate (sugar? oil?) but there are several types out there and maybe he can experiment. I ended up using a 100% whey protein powder (no added sugar/oils)-- gave me extra protein during chemo but not so effective for weight gain. My advice would be for him to (a) eat frequently -- lots of snacks between meals -- esp if he doesnt do this already (c) eat whatever he can/feels like (c) try to include some high-calorie items (shortbread is my favorite! but may not be his....). He should try to work at it. Hey, I love the thought of him out in the garden picking tomatoes! What a guy! Best wishes to you both.
Tara

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msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I had lost a bunch of weight from my last recurrence and was losing 2 lbs every day when I returned from surgery. i knew i had to stop that so i asked around. A nurse friend suggested the supplement drinks, but NOT as a meal replacement, as a meal addition. Eat your full meals as normal, drink the meal replacements either along with the meal or an hour later, when your tummy empties a bit. It did the trick and I stopped losing. Of course, through subsequent chemo and steroids I put all weight loss AND some back on, but all i have to do is look at the pictures of me when i got home after surgery to not worry so much about the weight. And there are drugs that he can take if he doesn't have an appetite that will help a lot.
Mary

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Thanks Tara and Mary for your helpful reply. Dad starts radiation Tuesday, he has 5 weeks of rad. and the chemo pill. We are all taking turns taking him. Any helpful hints would be great. Many have said the first 2 weeks arent too bad. Thank You all for listening its very helpful to me. God Bless and enjoy the weekend!!!

ac
Posts: 84
Joined: Aug 2008

Hi,

I'm going through the same treatment as your dad. I just started 5 weeks radiation and Xeloda and I'm approaching the end of the first week. So far so good, though I had some abdominal pain yesterday but it is gone today. As already mentioned by everyone else, my radiation therapist said that radiation effects don't kick in until 2 weeks and it is more likely the chemo effect or something else.

I actually lost a little weight before my treatment started, probably from despair and worry which affected my appetite.

Good luck and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your dad.

Andrew

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Hi Andrew, Just wondering how how are feeling? Thanks for your reply for my Dad. He just had 5 days of Xeloda, 2 pills in the morning 2 at night and only 3 rad. treatment, so far. He says he feels fine. He knows about all the side effects, I guess we drive him crazy waitng for a bad side effect to happen. I know everyone is diffrent. How was your second week of treatment/ Hope you breezed thru it. let us know how you our. Best wishes!!!

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Hi Andrew, Thanks for your replay. I hope your weeks ahead go smoothly for you. My dad is 82 so we are nervous for severe side effects, but with the help of all of you we will take each day as it comes. Keep me posted with your treatments. God Bless

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Hello Everyone Again, My dad just started rad. and will also be on xeloda also. He has to take 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening. 500mgs each pill. Is the the norm? Hes 83 with rectum cancer. We are concerned about the side effects. I have been reading everyone has diffrent effects. What is the hand and feet issues? The doctor gave him some cream for the dryness. Thanks for All the support. PS. His petscan came back good, Thank God/ Blessings to All

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi. I'm on Xeloda currently. I take 3 pills in am and 3 in pm. My understanding is that it varies according to (a) body mass and (b) purpose/programme. Your dad's dosage sounds within the range of what I have heard. Hand foot syndrome is the side effect most frequently mentioned with xeloda. My understanding is that it can vary from nothing (let's hope!) to quite severe dryness, fissures, blistering, peeling, hot feeling, etc. Other common side effects of Xeloda I guess would be fatigue, diarrhea. Of course the side effects vary A LOT from person to person. Generally speaking, Xeloda seems to be a relatively 'easy' drug -- compared with some others.

I just started 2 weeks ago. I'm taking Oxaliplatin at the same time (I'm at a different stage of the game to your dad -- I'm not presurgical), so it is a little hard to sort out what is due to what. But, so far so good. No hand-foot syndrome yet. Fingers crossed. Meanwhile, I'm smothering on cream!

Best wishes to your dad and to you.

Tara

rae7
Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2008

I am a 67 year old grandmother. I was diagnosed with anal cancer 12/07. In Jan/Feb 08 I had chemo and radiation, got very sick with radiation enteritis (burned intestines) and was hospitalized for 11 days. Today I am much stronger but still struggle with Proctitis(bleeding and discomfort when passing stool, burning, soreness, sometimes itching and sores) which the doctor says I may have longterm. There is a med - tube of ointment - called Xanaderm which seems to help. This is a prescription. The over-the-counter products don't seem as effective in treating the symptoms. I hope your dad does very well and does not develop this problem.

Melanie781
Posts: 33
Joined: May 2008

My husband, at age 52, was dx Stage IIIC rectal cancer last December. His treatment started with 25 treatments of radiation w/taking Xeloda every day he went to radiation (weekdays only) with the hope of shrinking the tumor before surgery. The radiation caused very painful burns which were treated with Silvidene cream, only available by prescription. Also, he didn't have any hand-foot syndrome symptoms at all, but he had severe diahhrea and nausea which were controlled with Ativan and Lorazapam and lots of Immodium AD. Then he had the surgery and a permanent colostomy. He is now receiving adjuvant chemotherapy with an Oxaliplatin infusion at the beginning of each round. The rounds consist of 14 days taking Xeloda and 7 days off. His onc wants him to do 6 to 8 rounds. The 3rd round side-effects were pretting bad, but the 4th and 5th have been much better. Now we only have to go through 1 more to finish. He has to control the constant diahhrea and nausea with meds and he is now exhibiting hand-foot syndrome. Also, he suffers from nueuropathy the first few days of each round. I'm told this can become permanent, but hopefully not! Throughout this whole journey, my husband has gained weight (go figure.) He is also very tired all the time and relies on a cane to get around for long periods of walking.

All my best to your Dad. A positive attitude is what keeps my husband going; it's very important to keep the spirits up (for all of you!)

Hugs,
~Melanie

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Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

Here ya go as it played out for me.....
- Rectal Cancer Tumor was golfball size at the base of my rectum...
- 5 weeks of 5fu drip 24/7 and 25 radiation treatments...
- No side effects except a tender tail due to sunburn... ANSWER>>> Aquaphor......
- Surgery 5 weeks after Chemo/Radiation treatment was completed...
- Surgery was Tuesday Morning (6 hrs) was checking out of hospital Friday at 11 am to go home...
- They removed my inner spincter muscle, rectum, and placed a permanent ostomy in my sigmoid...
- I couldn't sit down for 5 weeks then all of a sudden it was ok...
- Standing was at best 4 hours until I had to lay back down and rest...
- It feels like a pair of socks have been stuck up my tail and sewn up in there but it feels a little more comfortable everyday and I can sit now with ease...
- I am now on a 6 month regimen of Oxiliplatin and Leucouvrin with 5fu. every other Monday. Tuesday and then in Wednesday to remove the needle from the port.
- I was released fully from my restrictions at 5 weeks and returned to full time work Sept 22...( My surgery was July 15th at Vanderbilt Ingram- Cancer Institute...
- I was Staged with no lymph node involvement cat and Pet scans showed nothing except for the mass at my rectum which was isolated.
- OK...I am a big coffee drinker also, and I also raise a big garden so except for age we are in the same boat. Drink your coffee when you can because there will be some days especially after his surgery and his post operative chemo that it will make him nauseous just to smell it, but that will pass,also tell him that my post op chemo is like a womans pregnancy, I take spells where I want the oddest things to eat at the oddest times but if I don't get it and eat it right then I can't stand to smell it in 30 minutes so eat what you can when you can.
- I weighed 206 when I started my Chemo/Radiation treatments and got down to 182 up through the surgery, I am now up to 192 and am gaining about 2 pounds a week.
- ************EXTREMELY IMPORTANT************** tell him by no means do not eat any cashews or nuts during radiation...I made that mistake and the next day when things started happening naturally it cut me like shards of glass...I went for 1 week with taking 2 lortabs every 6 hours and a steroid suppository every night for 7 nights. I hollered out loud and cried at every toilet visit. Also because of the tumor closing down on my rectum I was going about 6 times a day so you can figure about what I went through.
- OK Surgery...My setup was like this...5% chance of infection in incisions no permanent harm only temporary setback(never happened)...10% chance of stitching up my rectum and tail hole not staying together because of radiation destruction of buttcheek tissue (didn't happen)...50% chance of the inability to have an erection or the ability to ejaculate...( didn't happen everything works fine) My wife actually gave him a tip for that one in gesture.
- Lastly...Rofran for his post operative nausea and Prozac if he has emotional problems, do not fear what is not there. Do not fear anything at all, and above all plan for the future, put nothing on hold. Have a great attitude, for attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
- and also tell him I just had 6 ton of horse manure (humus) spread and cut into my garden spot getting ready for next year already.....Oh I am 54 years old...and the permanent ostomy is better than the old way...At least now I can see what Im doing...LOL...Good luck to you both...

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msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

God bless you for putting your story in such detail! I am sure it will help a lot of people on here! You included about anything a person could think of and there is an awful lot of hope in there! Prayers for your continued great recovery.
Mary

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Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I forgot to mention that my surgery was done laproscopically through the stomach muscles and everything was removed through 2 incisions made on each side of the anus. My only pain was a slight bit where they stitched the intestine into my stomach (the intestines have no nerve endings) and where they sewed up my tail...I had some fluid buildup there and that was where most of the pain came from but ended when I squatted one day and it felt as if I had peed all over the place. It was the fluid from the incision had found a place to drain. The pain immediately went to near nothing because the pressure had been removed.

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

OMG! Makes me cringe just to think of it!
Mary

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Thanks for your replys Glad you are doing well. So far the treatments arent too bad for my dad. He is a very active 82 year old and full of life. He is surrounded by many people who love him very much so we want this to be as easy for him as possible. Surgery scares us more than anything. His tumor is 5cm and I believe it is up on the rectum, whatever that means. So I dont know if the surgerey will be diffrent from yours. Ill keep you posted and you do the same... Best Wishes Lisa ( Nicks daughter)

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Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

Lisa....If he is as outgoing as he seems he will breeze through the surgery. He has nothing to be fearful of and neither do any of you. He will go through the surgery as ya'll react to it. If all of his children are ok then he will be fine. It is the parents job to make sure that all of his children are fine at all times. Tell him you love him, assure him that all of you are behind him in his decisions ( as I know you are) and make sure he knows that none of you are worried for him.(Im certain you are but there again its a fathers job to keep all his children safe no matter how old they are). As long as he knows all of ya'll are ok then it will increase the ability for him to spend more time on his recovery and thats what he will need. His surgery will go well, God will see to that. It will bring you as a family closer, it happened here. That to me is a plus all in itself. It will or should also show each of you how fallible we all are and how much we should treasure every day and every moment of every day. There is always something good that comes out of something bad. I used this traveled path as a way to turn my disease into getting my family as a whole back together again. If you want this to be as easy as possible for him then act as if there is nothing for him to worry about, come into his house and smile from the time you get there until you leave, let him know you are ok with everything and also let him know that you know he will be fine. Start talking next years garden, and maybe about the things you like that he might not have planted this year that next year he needs to. Give him the ability to plan for the future ..garden, whatever just make him plan and include yourself in these plans, that gives him strength to do anything because the childrens happiness is our job as dads. If it gives you pleasure and makes you smile then he has done his job. So tell him that next spring he has to teach you everything he knows about his gardening secrets. It will all be behind you before you know it...make it simple..if he ends up with a permanent ostomy tell him that its easier than the old way once ya get use to it, and keep in touch, I got a lot of shortcuts that I'll tell him about as he moves along in his recovery, got some gardening tips also..........God Bless all of you,and he will be fine, he has a great supportive family,

Nicksangels
Posts: 41
Joined: Sep 2008

Thanks Buzzard, We cant wait for this all to be over and Yes we are planning for next year. My dad just today was cleaning up the garden for the Spring and he covers a fig tree too. His vegetables are wonderful wish I could send you some tomatoes LOL. Your words are very encouraging and My dad has a wonderful family around him, many grandkids, My 10 year old and my Dad talk about sports all the time and he comes and watches him play too. So we try to make everything as normal as possible even though I am angry for this to be happening to him at this stage of his life, But its not fair to anyone fighting cancer at any age. Thanks Again for your reply.

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Melanie... the same thing happened to me!! Here I thought that when I went on chemo, if there was nothing positive to look forward to, at least I could look at it as the ultimate in diet plans!! LOL! Well, imagine my disappointment when I GAINED weight... didn't lose a lb! What a disappointment for a gal who has had to lose weight all her life and now, even a bout of cancer, chemo and radiation won't help in that department!

I told my GP -- "Ok, Sean! I've gone so far as to have cancer, chemo and radiation and even with that I can't lose weight... so I don't want to ever hear you bug me about losing weight again!!" He said, "Alright, alright... you've made your point... but really, you didn't have to go as far as getting cancer to prove it!" LOL!!

Huggggggs,

Cheryl

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I am a 53 year old stage III rectal cancer survivor. As you may have seen on my post, after almost 4 years, my GI guy has pretty much told me I'm 'cured'.

I had chemo/rads before, and then surgery to remove my rectum and sigmoid colon. My chemo was carboplatin and 5FU drip.

I had every side effect in the book. Lost 45 pounds (no steroid weight gain for me...my oncologist was from the minimalist school of medicine...lol!). What kept me going, above all, was the feeling that OF COURSE I would survive this...it just needed to be gotten thru. Laughter, also...I watched MASH every afternoon...and anything Mel Brooks! Water, as much as possible...keeps you hydrated and feeling better.

My point? I DID get thru it!!!!! AND thru subsequent treatment for unrelated breast cancer. I'm no hero, I just believed in myself, and my treatment team. I treated my body like a warm, loyal, old friend...after all, IT wouldn't have chosen to do all the treatments, if given the choice!

BIG hugs to both you AND dad!

Hugs, Kathi

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