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I have rectal cancer

Christy76's picture
Christy76
Posts: 27
Joined: Feb 2019

Hello my name is Christy. Because it may effect how my treatment goes forth and what advice people can give me I would like to disclose that I am male to female transgender. I'm also forty-two years old.

I felt sick in early January as well as tired and having some rather gross bathroom problems. I went to my family doctor and he set me up for a colonoscopy because cancer runs so high in my family. Two weeks later I had the colonoscopy and when I woke up from the sedation the doctor was standing over me telling me that they found a tumor. Today I saw him again and was told that they can not stage it yet but his best guess would be early stage 3 and that the CT scan found a spot in my lung that they do not think is cancer but that they want to be sure about.

I am facing up to six weeks of chemo and radiation followed by surgery to have the tumor removed. I asked what my survival chances were and he seemed optamistic but I think they're supposed to act like that so he may have really been optamisitic or he may have been putting on a show.

Can anyone tell me what I am in for? Will I become very tired from the chemo? I'm already very tired now. How long will I be out of work? How will I pay these medical bills?

Christy

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 878
Joined: Apr 2017

Christy:  Welcome and sorry you are here.  For many on the board, proper staging was difficult before surgery, so I am not sure how much confidence you can put in the read of the CT scan.  I do not think doctors are supposed to act optimistic and I do not think your doctor is being too optimistic.  If you are a 3a, your chances are very good, depending on so many vairables.  As many will point out, you are not a statistic.  As to the effects of chemo and radiation, I will allow others to comment as my experience was limited to chemo alone.  You might want to meet with the social worker or financial aid person at your hospital for information about payment.  Depending on your circumstances, Medicaid may be available.  Best of luck to you.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 4827
Joined: Jan 2013

So sorry you find yourself here, on the forum nobody cares to join. 

There are so many emotions connected to diagnoisis, but the biggest one is probably fear. Once you get past that stage, then it should be plane sailing - not meaning without fear, or without trials.  Once you get started on your treatment plan, you will feel as though you are activly doing something to beat this thing - and beat it you will. 

While the Doctor's can't stage you at this point, I say go with the 3A, which is totlaly beatable. What you tell yourself in your head plays a huge part in how you handle the journey. Be positive. Dont' think 'what if' think 'when I'. 

Everybody handles treatment so differently. For some, they just breeze through, with limited side effects, while on the other end of the scale, others suffer every side effect possible and then of course there are those who fall somewhere in-between. 

Depending on what chemo cocktail you are on, side effects differ. One of the common ones with most chemo treatments is fatigue. 

I faced it with a 'Be prepared for the worse while hoping for the best' attitude. 

I can't help you with medical bills, because at the time of my treatment, my husband had good insurance - not the case now.  Sandia has good advice in his post. 

And you may never be out of work. 

Others will be along soon to share their wealth of knowledge and advice. 

Stick with us, and we will help you through. 

Tru

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6181
Joined: Feb 2009

Welcome to the board.  Mine was also rectal cancer and went through chemo/radiation, surgery, more chemo.  Everyone handles treatment differently.  You will get fatigued during radiation which is normal and you will experience burning in the anal area which will in turn hurt like heck when you have a bowel movement.

Usually staging is done after CT scans and surgery.  It's hard to tell right now as they have to remove the diseased part and test lymph nodes.

We are a wonderful group here that can help you get through this.  Please come back to let us know how you are doing and if you have any more questions.

Kim

Kazenmax's picture
Kazenmax
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2016

Christy, so sorry you have to face this demon. I know it's overwhelming. Take it one step at a time. 

When I was first diagnosed, I was very tired as well. I didn't realize that it was a symptom of the cancer. I, too, was diagnosed as stage 3. I asked my oncologist what the goal was is radiation and chemo. He used the word, "cure", and I believe that's what's going to happen.

It's not been easy. One year after treatment the cancer came back in my left lung but again we went for cure. I had surgery and more chemo and as of the last CT scan I am cancer free.

I tell you this to help you understand that the road will be rough but you can do this. And most importantly we are here for you.

Good luck

K

Sestra17's picture
Sestra17
Posts: 42
Joined: Jan 2018

Hi Christy! Sorry you are in this situation, but you will find ,we are all here to help and support each other. In 2017 I was diagnosed with stage 3b CRC. My oncologist has always used the words "possibility of a cure", so I go with that. I had six weeks of oral chemo and radiation 5X a week. The chemo didn't bother much, but the radiation was a beast. Mostly because I'm a very private person and having to be exposed like that, Ugh. Thankfully my rad techs were awesome, and we actually got to the point where we could joke a bit. The treatment is hard on your skin, so keep an eye on it (and your rad onco will too), and ask for Silvadene cream, it is a miracle! The point of this combo treatment is to decrease the size of the tumor and increase the chance of a successful surgery. My CA was shrunk, but not enough to spare my bottom. So I have a colostomy. And i am thankfull for it. Takes a bit of getting used to, but I have so much more freedom now. Even back to riding horses again(my passion). After the recovery from surgery I had 5 months of "Mop up" chemo to get any stray zombie cells. Every 2 weeks, 4 hours in clinic for infusion, then sent home connected to pump for 48 hours, back to clinic for disconnect and home again. I was lucky to have minimal nausea. Did have heavy fatigue and cold sensitivity. Keep an eye on that, because it can progress to neuropathy, which I have now. And can take years or never get better. Anywho, sending you a hug and positive thoughts. Happy to answer any questions!

SoCal42's picture
SoCal42
Posts: 41
Joined: Jul 2017

Remember that everyone reacts to treatment differently. I’m a health care worker and there was no way I could continue working during treatment, so I immediately filed for state disability insurance and was off work for an entire year - that was for chemo/radiation, surgery, and then 6 months of chemo plus recovery from chemo. I know others have been able to work intermittently during treatment. Also remember that statistics apply to populations, but not to individuals. I frankly avoid researching things like survival statistics because they may not really apply to my specific case anyway. Watch out for increased side effects near the end of radiation treatment, and be sure to let your nurse/doctors know right away if you’re having any issues, because they have all kinds of things that can help you get through the end of treatment.

ellend
Posts: 83
Joined: Apr 2016

Hello Christy,

Sorry to hear you are now in the club no one wants to join. I also went through the same regimen as Kim (oral chemo/radiation, surgery, mop up chemo, ileo reversal) and will ditto that everyone reacts differently to treatment. The chemo/radiation was fine for the first couple of weeks. It gets tiring going 5 days a week for 5 weeks, but then it did its job and my tumor shrunk significantly to the point where I did not need a permanent ostomy. Toward the end of the treatment, I had the same issue Kim was alluding to, really painful bowel movements. The radiation onc can prescribe creams and suppositories that help, so be sure and let the nurses or your oncolologist know of any issues.

Good luck,

Ellen

danker's picture
danker
Posts: 1182
Joined: Apr 2012

For a sore bottom, Try radia gel available at wallmart.  Your young age is in your favor!  I was 77 when diagnosed, currently 86 and been NED (no evedence of disease) for these 9 years.  Best of luck to you!!

Lisa Rose's picture
Lisa Rose
Posts: 594
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Christy,

 

Take a deep breath.

 

My name is Lisa and I am a 17 year rectal cancer survivor.  Diagnosed at age 40 – had my surgery on March 20, 2002. Diagnosed Stage 3C with the cancer in 10  lymph nodes. Did chemo and radiation however I can’t comment on current treatments. No recurrences and living my life to the fullest.

 

Just wanted to share and give hope!

 

Lisa Rose

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