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Newbie... just got diagnosed w stage 3 colon cancer.. lots of questions???

Rosalinda Z
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2010

Hello,

After ignoring stomach problems for a long time, I finally went to see a gastro doctor. At my first visit, I went through my list of symptoms. I was fortunate he just didn’t tell me to eat more fiber like previous doctors. He went ahead and did a colonoscopy (since I am 41 and they are routinely done at age 45). He found a polyp that was too large for him to remove. The biopsy results came back fine after the colonoscopy but after a colon resection surgery the biopsy results came back with colon cancer stage III due to the fact that cancer was found in one of my lymph notes. So, I am schedule for a port in a few days and will start chemo soon.

Where do I go from here? Will I be able to work and take care of my children and have chemo at the same time? There are so many questions… any advice out there?

Thanks,
Rosalinda

dianetavegia's picture
dianetavegia
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

HI Rosalinda and Welcome!

You're going to have a bazillion questions and we want you to ask away! No question is a dumb question. We've all had those same questions.

I was also Stage III and am 7 months out from completing my chemo but am rushing out to my weekly Ladies Bible Study and then to Walmart and some yard work but I wanted to welcome you! I'll check in later and share anything you'd like to know.

Meanwhile.... don't freak out! I'm sure your onc told you that you have about an 80% chance of this being taken care of with surgery and chemo. :-)

Talk to you soon,
Diane (age 59 and happy)

Kerry S's picture
Kerry S
Posts: 607
Joined: Dec 2009

You are on the first part of your journey. This journey is not like a drive to Florida on the interstate system. It is a journey on the back roads. There are many forks in the road. Sometimes it will take you into some of the nastiest neighborhoods in the dead of night. This will scare the hell out of you. Other times you will find that after traveling many miles on a bumpy road, the damn bridge is out and you must back track and try yet another route. There are times a large truck will slow you down where you just can’t seem to pass it. This is when you just have to hang in there.

The way to survive this is basic. Know deep inside where you want to go. Don’t listen to those that tell you “you can’t get there from hear.” Don’t set time lines. Keep a clear head so you can make decisions at the forks in the road. Develop a strong unbending desire to get to your chosen destination regardless of what others think, say or do. Use your own internal GPS to keep you going in the right direction.

You can get there from here.

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

Absolutley beautiful, insightful, glorious way to desribe this Kerry.

Peggy

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2121
Joined: Oct 2009

Welcome to the Board and I am sorry you have to be here. Ask any question you want, nothing is too small or too big and someone will come on to answer when they log in.

You asked if you would be able to work, take care of your children, while on chemo. Some can and some cannot. My hubby was diagnosed Stage IV with liver and lung involvement 3/09. I can tell you that he did continue to work full time while on chemo only missing work on infusion days. He was very fatigued though. As far as kids, we don't have any in the house anymore so I really can't address that. There are several on here including Brenda who is a teacher and a single mom and she does continue to work while getting chemo. Another gal is a nurse and she, also, continues to work. Don't know what drugs you will be getting but George's side effects were fatigue, sensitivity to cold (don't dare touch the refrigerator door or a bottle of pop), slight metal taste, neuropathy in hands and feet. He did not experience nausea, the pre-meds at infustion took care of that. He never vomited the whole 6 months from chemo. His biggest enemy was the fatigue, he would go to bed at 9/9:30 p.m. but heck, he was up at 6:00 a.m. George did not receive radiation.

In a nutshell, everyone is different. Some have a bad time, some do not. If possible, line up some help with stuff like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, meals for the freezer, running the kids places, everyday stuff in the event you need it.

Let us know what drugs you will get and people will be more specific. Take care - Tina

John23's picture
John23
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

From a non-cancerous polyp, to a colon resection, to stage 3
based on one lymph node?

Is there more to this story? A stage "3" can be an "a", "b", or "c",
depending on many factors, including the amount of lymph nodes
involved, and should take out twenty or more for any reasonable
conclusion. And although no prognosis is in stone, none can be
given without a very thorough examination and staging.

So I'd like to think there's a bit more to the story than you've said.

But regardless, you are entitled to, and should always have, a
second (and/or) third opinion from doctors that are not in the
same group or organization; out of area, is preferred.

Surgery isn't the only invasive thing done to one's body,
chemotherapy is equally invasive, and can have tremendous
ramifications. It is the reason why a second opinion should
always be considered prior to accepting any invasive treatments.

It sounds like there's no longer any obstruction that's causing an
emergency situation, so why don't you take the time now, to
make sure you will be headed down a path that's suitable?

Make some appointments, and get some other opinions.

You have to take control of your own life, and set your own
destiny. Leaving it up to doctors, is allowing someone else to
make your life and death decisions; doctors are human and
make as many mistakes as anyone else.

Take control, don't let fear guide you.

Better health to you!

John

HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

We're so sorry you have to be here, but we're also glad you found us! This is one of those places that nobody wants to be, but questions, any questions are welcome.

First of all, I'm so glad you went to a doctor that listened to you. I had my scope at the age of 46. I have a family history of CC, without symptoms. I went in hoping he'd tell me everything was great and see you in five years. He didn't. I'm also a stage IIIB. It involved one lymph node. The usual regimen in stage III cc is FOLFOX4. You can Google it if you want to. It's made up of three different chemo drugs. Fluorouracil (or 5-FU), luekavorin, and oxaliplatin.

I'm a nurse and work two to three (sometimes four) days a week. We do 12 hour shifts. I'm finished with my 4th treatment and for me, so far, so good. My doc told me last time I should be a poster-child for FOLFOX because I handle it so well. I still have the tingling in my hands, face, thighs and feet, but it's not bad. I can't drink anything cold for about 10 days after treatment because it feels like you're swallowing shards of glass. I've noticed that sometimes my balance is off, but nothing severe. The only days I don't feel well is usually the evening when I'm disconnected (I start every other Tuesday and wear a small pump until Thursdays) and for about 2 days after. I've not thrown up or even come close to feeling like it. My nasty side effects usually disappear as fast as they show up. They're usually all gone by Sunday and poof, I feel good as new.

I don't have small children so I can't tell you if you're going to be able to tolerate it and take care of your kids. That's pretty much up to your body and how well YOU tolerate it.

When I first went to my oncologist, I had over 50 questions for him. Mostly from reading here and searching on the internet.

Now, I remember my onc giving me better odds than Diane said. He told me that studies have shown that 80% of stage III's are cured by surgery alone. The only problem was he's not sure if I'm in the 80% or the 20%. Of that 20%, my chance of recurrence is about 7%. I decided to do chemo because all it takes is one nasty little cancer cell to stop and park and make more little cells. I want to be sure that all those little suckers are dead. If you go searching for statistics of stage III's on the internet, they will scare the liver out of you. They're old and erroneous.

Please, ask questions of you like.

zenmonk
Posts: 198
Joined: Nov 2009

Welcome to the board. I am relativly new to the board too but you will find that there are many caring, smart people here who share lots of good information. I am stage 4. I had a rectal tumor removed and at the time there was no further involvement. I think they called me stage 1b or something like that. Anyways it spread to my liver and I became stage 4. I have been stage 4 for over a year now and my last CT/pet scans came back all clear. I also had a liver resection in June of last year. So as you can see from my story and many others here that there is hope and reason to have a fighting spirit. Your first question. "where do I go from here". If I had it to do over again I would have educated myself more on the disease so that I could play a more active role in my survival decisions. I worked the entire time I was on chemo and I have a 3 year old daughter. Granted there were some sick days in there but luckily I have a very understanding employer. Everyone is different but I think its safe to say that you will be able to carry on during chemo. So for me my advice would be to find out as much about what is happening to you as possible. Also educate yourself as to all of the advocacy groups out there, clinical trial matching services and other resources you may need in the future. I was suprised at how many organizations there are to help with just about every aspect of this disease. I hope this helps.

karguy's picture
karguy
Posts: 1024
Joined: Apr 2009

Welcome to the board,I hope your chemo goes well.When you find out what chemo you will be doing,you can get better answers.I did chemo,and radiation at the same time.the only problem I had with chemo was numbing of my hands,radiation was the one I had trouble with.When you find out more information,you can get better answers.Before you see your doctor write down the questions you want to ask,because you will be overwhelmed with info.Write down the answers also,or you may forget.I did chemo,and radiation,then surgery,with a permanent colostomy bag,good luck and let us know how it goes.

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

Welcome to our little colon cancer community. Sorry that you have to be here!

I'm a stage 4 survivor and have had various procedures and rounds of chemo. As far as work goes... Do you have short or long term disability plan? If so, I would advise taking advantage of it. It will allow you to focus on getting well. If not, perhaps a modified work week would help you to manage during chemo days. There are many who do work through the standard colon cancer chemo regimes.

As far as taking care of children... sure, mostly. There may be days where you would prefer not to. Infusion days and the first few after can be a little rough.

Peace and blessings... Rob; in Vancouver

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

Hi, Rosalinda.

Love your name! So pretty!

I'm sorry about your cancer, but I'm so glad you found us. You will not be alone!

*hugs*
Gail

Doug_B's picture
Doug_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Feb 2010

Whew! I can sure relate to your situation. I went through a resection (actually two due to complications) and 8 months of chemo. I continued to work and ride my bicycle through out treatment with the exception of recovery from surgery. In June 2004 the diagnosis handed to me was Stage 3 Dukes level C 8 out of 25 nodes testing positive with a few questionable spots on my lungs. It has been 5 years since ending treatment and all is well. I've written a book "When We Dance with Cancer" finding "The Survivor State of Mind" which I'll be happy to email to you. I'm sure it will answer a lot of your questions. Contact me at douglassballentine@yahoo.com and it will be on the way.

Acceptance is the first step. Taking control is the second by having a sound plan. Recognizing cancer for what it is, a cureable disease, is when cancer takes it rightful place in your life. The advances in medicine in the last 5 years has been phenominal! I wish I could say it is good to meet you but under these circumstances, well, it is good to meet you. There are so many people here that are so intelligent it amazes me. The camaraderie, friendships and hope instilled within these walls can't be found anywhere else. Please continue to let us know how you are doing. Godspeed and good health, Doug

polarprincess
Posts: 210
Joined: Aug 2008

hi, sounds like your diagnosis happened similar to mine. i had a polyp too large to be removed via colonoscopy and my biopsies came back non cancerous, yet i had cancer as well. after my resection, i also had one node positive which started my journey. with just one node positive if your T stage was 1 or 2 then you would be stage IIIa same as me, and if it was t3 or T4 then you would be stage IIIb. if you go to the memorial sloan kettering website you can find a nanogram and you can calculate your odds of remaining cancer free if you wish. it is for stage III people only who have had a resection. it asks you a bunch of questions, and is supposed to be the most accurate tool out there and most people at least in stage IIIa will find out the odds are much better than what you see on the internet. i was T1 with 1 node, and it gives me 97%. I have not used it for stage IIIb or C.

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

Rosalinda (I'm thinking of G=Bruce Springsteen's song "Rosalita" one of my all-time favrotie tunes!)

Welcome to the Board, you've come to a good place. someone gave good advice- take shrot term disability leave if you are able, so you can adjust to this, adjust to chemo and see how you respond to chemo. Some people are wiped out for a day or 2 after chemo and then rebound and can get 8 hours of work/child care/home accomplished. Some people are majorly fatigued throughout. It really is different for all.

For specifics, do you know what chemo drugs you will be on to start? Then we can chime in with side-effect management etc....

Hugs to you we are here for you

Peggy

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