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Newbie, starting radiation/ chemo 9/04

Posts: 14
Joined: Aug 2012

I am so glad to have found this site, and overwhelmed with all the love and support I see here.

In late June of this year, I experienced significant rectal pain, accompanied by large amount of blood passing for an entire day. I anticipated this as hemmorhoids, but when the symptoms persisted over the weekend, I went to an urgent care center. From there it was a GI consult, colonoscpy with biopsy, diagnosis of anal squamous cell ca, tumor 7 cm in size, and CT scan with thankfully showed no mets, and enlargement to 2 local lymph nodes.

I saw the oncologocist and also had a surgical consult, with both docs agreeing that chemo with 5fu and mitomycin and radiation for 5-6 weeks as the best course of action ( I see radiation consult Tues next week, have mediport insertion on Fri 8/31 and start treatment Tues, 9/4.

I am a former nurse, and have done lots of research, and am admittedly VERY anxious.

I understand the best and the worse case scenarios, and am frustrated at the unknown.

I was very worried about my job, and trying to let them know if I could / would be working thru this all. I work in a 3 person office and the impact of being down 1 person is noticeable, plus I just started work there in April of this year. I was very relieved this past Friday however, when our General manager informed me that they just want me to get well, and that our corporate office in Europe is prepared to send help to tide my office over during this whole trial.

That said, I still worry. I am SO type A and like to plan out the future, and of course, cannot.

I had difficulty with diarrhea and burning with my colonoscopy prep and with the barium for my Ct. My rectal area burned so bad, from the acid in my stools and the area was very sensitive. I cannot begin to think what it is like to live 24/7 with a sever sunburn down there for weeks.

I am most afraid of the pain, and not getting pain relief.

I am afraid of losing control at work, either from N & V , diarrhea, or overwhelming pain.

i do not know if/ when/ how to go about looking at STD coverage, etc.

I could go on and on, but will end this for now, and again, appreciate your support.


Posts: 1122
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Joan,

I remember having all the feelings that you are experiencing. Because you are a nurse, you may be more worried because you know so much. I was diagnosed and started treatment a week later,so I knew very little and totally relied on the doctors. I went to a great hospital, so I had confidence.

The treatment, for me was not debillitating until towards the end, when my white blood counts got too low and I had to have nuprogen shots.
The chemotherapy did not make me nauseous and there was no vomitting. The radiation burns did not get really bad until about 3 weeks in. You can prepare by making sure that you have cotton loose pants or a long skirt. I wore pants from LL Bean that were pull ups and cotton. They came in several colors and I got them all. You want them as loose as possible.

You will want to make sure you have all the supplies you need before you need them. Your skin will get burned. I used a cream they recommended.
For showers, I used Dove for sensitive skin body wash and a handheld shower is a must. I found it very comforting to use the handheld several times a day. Also, when the burns get bad, I used a squirt bottle filled with room temperature water, which I used when I urinated. It helped to alleviate the burning. Also, sensitive skin wipes with no alcohol instead of toilet paper. Oh, and baby shampoo for your hair.

I did not work during any of the treatments and I don't think that I could have because of the fatigue and diarreah.

You can do this! I too am type A..........actually, I should say that I was. Cancer has cured me of my type A tendancies. I had to let go. I think I am a much better person since I was first diagnosed. Try to let go and put your recovery first!

Keep the faith!

mp327's picture
Posts: 4106
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm so sorry your circumstances have led you here, but I hope we can give you the support you are seeking. I understand what a scary time this is for you. I think your top priority must be yourself and getting through this treatment, especially since you have an understanding boss who is willing to arrange coverage for you while you are unable to work. It is difficult to turn put our lives in someone else's hands, but this is a time when you may have to. The good news is that treatment usually only lasts 6 weeks and the recovery time is pretty short for most people. You can do lots of things to help yourself. Drink LOTS of water and stay hydrated, eat protein with every meal or snack to aid healing, start the pain medication at the first sign of discomfort and do not d/c so you can stay ahead of the pain. Get yourself some wipes that do not contain alcohol and quit using toilet paper, as it's much too abrasive. For nausea (and since you're a nurse, you probably already know this), medication is very effective when taken at the first hint of queasiness. Other things that can help with nausea are ginger tea, gingerale, hard candy, 7-up, soda crackers. I carried candy and crackers with me everywhere I went.

The main thing to remember is that this cancer has very high cure rates. While the treatment is certainly not any fun, it is doable. Most people return to fairly normal lives soon after treatment ends. Just take it one day at a time. And don't be afraid to rely on us for advice or answers to questions you might have. We will help you in any way we can. You will get through this--you will!

Posts: 115
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Joan...I'm a newbie too and am starting treatment tomorrow on the 27th. I have the same fears as you. If you'd like, I'll try to update you on the first week of treatment since I start a week before you. Like we're learning though, everyone responds differently.

The folks on this site have been so helpful and encouraging to me. Now I want to beat this thing even more so I can "pay it forward." We'll both get through this and these wonderful people will cheer us on all the way.

Take care and stay strong...and I'm going to try to practice what I preach.

mp327's picture
Posts: 4106
Joined: Jan 2010

I just wanted to wish you all the very best tomorrow as you begin treatment. We will all be there with you in spirit. You can do this!

Posts: 115
Joined: Aug 2012

Thank you...you being with me in spirit is felt and very much appreciated. I know you mean it.

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