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Just diagnosed

Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

I have just been diagnosed with anal cancer and will be starting treatment of chemo and radiation in a couple of weeks. I have no idea what to expect as don't know of anyone whose been through this. Any advice or info. would be appreciated. I lost my husband to stomach cancer 14 months ago so a cancer diagnosis is particularily scary for me right now.

RoseC's picture
Posts: 558
Joined: Jun 2011

I'm so sorry about your husband. And now you're facing this. Life sure does have a way of testing us.

One thing you should keep in mind is that anal cancer is very curable. There's a standard treatment protocol - six weeks of radiation with two rounds of chemo-therapy. The treatment can be harsh but it's a relatively short-term treatment compared to some others.

There are many of us survivors here on the board who will be very glad to help you along the way and answer any questions you may have. You might try reading some of the recent posts - there are a few people who are either just now at the end of their treatment or are nearing it.

I'm so sorry you have to face this now, what with all you've been through already. We're here to help though, and will stick by you throughout your treatment and beyond.


ps. There's a great book that is available on Amazon dot com (among other places). It's called 'Kicking Cancer in the Butt' by Theresa Mayhew and contains lots of information and helpful hints on dealing with anal cancer.

pps. Here's a great quote from Azannie 'For those of you starting your journey and in treatment now, you can do it.' You can do it too.

Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

Thank you for replying I have started to read some of the posts and can see they will be helpful. I will also check out the book. I'm really worried about the chemo as my husband only had 1 week of chemo and it destroyed all the good bacteria in his colon and he ended up having emergency surgery to remove his large colon.


sandysp's picture
Posts: 862
Joined: May 2011

I am not as knowledgeable as the others here and am so sorry to hear about your husband. You must feel shell shocked. I hope you can find some comfort in hearing from no one on this board having any type of reaction like this to our chemo. I for one certainly didn't it and didn't even have to take nausea meds most of the time. God for you for finding us and reaching out.
All the best,

AZANNIE's picture
Posts: 443
Joined: Mar 2011

So sorry you've been dealt this double whammy. I tolerated chemo better than the radiation. I had two rounds of mitomycin and 5FU. I had a little nausea, but not much.
Wishing you the best as you begin treatment...


Macmadgram's picture
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2012

RoseC, thanks for mentioning "Kicking Cancer in the Butt". I just ordered it.

I spent 3 months being told I had a internal thrombosed hemorrhoid before eventually being diagnosed with anal canal cancer--squamous cell carcinoma. At first I was told that the 3 cm tumor was localized but a recent MRI has shown lymph node involvement. I'm very glad I had the MRI because a PET Scan and CT Scan showed that the lymph nodes were clear. Now there is a question as to whether it is really squamous cell carcinoma or some other kind of cancer. Oncologists are asking the lab to review the biopsy.

I am starting chemo (5-FU & mitomycin) and radiation (IMRT) on April 16 and I'm pretty nervous but trying to stay optimistic and hopeful.

Wishing everyone who is going through this lots of strength and courage.

Carol (from Ontario, Canada)

Posts: 1250
Joined: Oct 2011

As Rose said this is a great site with truely helpul advice. I am a little over 1yr. out of treatment and in Feb. was told I was NED (no evidence of disease). I wish I had found this earlier in my treatment but didn't stumble here until almost through it. Questions will arise as you get going and remember no question at all is too strange, someone here will surely have insite. Doctors have been trained to do what they do and I have been lucky to feel satisfied with mine, but nothing beats talking to people who have been there going through just what you are. The combination of chemo and radiation did get tough for me and I had a hard time maintaining a healthy weight. Get used to drinking plenty of extra fluid and plan to learn to like the taste of products like "Boost". It is full of nutrition and I used to mix it with a scoop of ice cream in the blender. I will pray you have smooth sailing, and keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel because it is surely there. Easter is a time for blessings of Gods goodness, new health and better days. I will add you to my prayer list right away. Take care and come back often, we are all here to offer support for each other. As always, all in my prayers.

mp327's picture
Posts: 4104
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry you have been diagnosed with this disease, but thank goodness you were finally properly diagnosed and are beginning treatment. Misdiagnosis is often the case with anal cancer and many people go years thinking they have a bleeding hemorrhoid. "Kicking Cancer in the Butt" was written by a blogger friend of mine, Theresa Mayhew. She compiled a wonderful collection of information and tips which will help you get through this treatment. With the information in her book, along with all of us here, you will get through this. Please come here and speak up for whatever you need--someone will have an answer. I wish you all the best as you begin this journey and I hope you'll keep us posted on how things are going.

Posts: 475
Joined: Mar 2011

My chemo doctor at first said my MRI showd an enlarged lymph node after my MRI. I asked him what this meant. He said it could be enlarged due to all the tests I had (Pet scan CT scan, etc). I asked the radiation docor if this would be treated with radiation and he said yes. He said he would treat it as if it was cancerous. As it turned out I was diagnosed as Stage 2 cancer meaning the cancer had not spread to any lymph nodes or organs.

Pattie13's picture
Posts: 47
Joined: Mar 2012

Sorry to hear your joining the group. I just joined myself a week or so ago. I too was at first told I had a Thrombosed internal hemorrhoid. When the doctor went in to remove it (I was under general anesthisia) he saw that that was not what it was and took a couple of biopsies. I am going in for a barium mapping tomorrow... oh joy. But it will show how extensive it is. My is resting right on my sphincter muscle so it hurts all the time. Have not been told exactly when I start the chemo and radiation, but should know by the end of the week I hope. Just want to get this show on the road, so to speak. Because I tend to burn easy (and also have lupus) my doctor told me to start drinking 6 carnation instant breakfasts a day along with 15g L-Glutamine and yogurt. It is supposed to make the radiation burns not be so bad and also keep up my vitamins and protein. You may want to ask your doctor about it.
Sending prayers and hugs your way and hoping everything goes well for you.

danker's picture
Posts: 1100
Joined: Apr 2012

read my story and you will find i went through it all and now,two years later,am again living a normal life. Above all don't be afraid. You too can do it!!!

Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

Will be thinking of you today Carol as you start your treatment just keep thinking positive thoughts and you'll get through this. I am just a couple weeks behind you starting treatment soon. Today I'm having a colonoscopy ugh!
Keep strong

mp327's picture
Posts: 4104
Joined: Jan 2010

A diagnosis of anal cancer is scary, but you have come to a great place for support and information. All of us have had our experience with this treatment and we will share with you any helpful tips about what to expect and how to deal with any side effects. Take heart in knowing that many of us are quite a ways out of treatment--I'm 3 1/2 years--and are living our lives normally again, but for a few minor issues that are tolerable. This is not an easy 6 weeks, but you will get through it. Please lean on us, pick our brains, or come here to vent--we are listening. I wish you all the best.

Posts: 113
Joined: Dec 2011

I am so sorry for the loss of your husband wivesliscombe.

I am glad you both found this site, I think you will find it very informative as well as a major source of support. It has been a major lifeline for me.

I was diagnosed 12/2011 and started treatments 2/2012, just having finished them Wednesday.
I am sure you are feeling overwhelmed and fearful, I felt the same. I am glad you found this site. It was a major source of information as well as a very strong source of support.
We have all been through this and are here to assist you. As has been said this cancer is a "good" cancer to have as it has a high cure rate. One of the people here wrote a line that helped me get through the treatments, "weeks for years!". It can be very overwhelming and confusing. I recommened writing down all your questions and taking it with you to MD appts and writing down their answers. It is also helpful to have someone go with you as I found that once I left and was in my car I remembered half of what was said, so having someone with me who could fill in the blanks was major.

Remember everyone reacts differently to the chemo and radiation. You may not get all of the side effects or get them to a lessor degree. I had no nausea or vomiting and actually no change of appetite, others did. The radiation for me was the hardest at about week 4. You begin to feel the effects. Listen to your body and rest when needed. It is very important to keep your MD's abreast of your symptoms so they can help treat them. Take it all 1 day at a time, try to remain as positive as possible and find humor along the way, for me I would rather laugh than cry and I think that helped me.

Stay hydrated, this is very very important. Carry water with you and sip throughout the day. Protien is also important and I found instant breakfast to fit the bill.

I will add you both to my prayers. I got through this and so can you, just one foot in front of the other, "Weeks for years!"


Posts: 88
Joined: Apr 2011

Sorry both you and macmadgram had to find us here... but this is a very good, loving, caring group of people... we have been through this... some more than others... for me, after my round of radiation and chemo, my PET Scans showed that the cancer had spread into the lymph nodes, etc... the small tumors were there all along, just too small to be detected with the anal tumor... I had another 6 months of a more agressive chemo...

Wiveliscombe, I am truly sorry for the loss of your husband... my hubby was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June 2008, and I was diagnosed with anal cancer in June 2009... After 3 years clear, he has cancer again, although not esophageal cancer, but probably lung or bone cancer.. we are still waiting for the test results... I hope you have other close family and friends to help you through this...

Have someone go with you to your appts... and write down your questions, and your fears... get answers from the doc and write those down in a journal or some type of book to keep for reference.

Keep us posted... come in here to ask questions, share your experiences, share your fears, and to vent when things are too much for you... We have all been there... Amongst us all, we have experienced just about every side effect that there is... (no one that I know of has had everything)... you may have no side effects... we are all different. I am now 2 years clear... NED (no evidence of disease). It is ok to be scared.. I am still, and I still cannot believe that this has happened... But, keep a good attitude... and laugh, laugh, laugh... The most important thing is to keep up with your nutrition.. I cannot stress how important that is.

I wish the best for you. We are all here for you. Again, this is a great group of people... also, we have shared experiences that the docs may not think to tell you about, so please come in here to ask and share.

God bless.

Posts: 300
Joined: May 2010

I am so sorry for the loss of your husband and for your own cancer diagnosis. I cannot add much more than the ones above did - just know that this site and the individuals within it all know what you are going through and are here to help you get through this emotionally, physically, spiritually, whatever you need as you go through the tests, chemo and radiation. While we all experienced somewhat different reactions and side effects, cumulatively we know what to expect and how to help take care of it. My thoughts and prayers will be with you as you go through this and after. Marilyne

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