successful surgery

BerniceOB
BerniceOB Member Posts: 25 **

My husband has asked that I post an update for him.  He is usually a private individual but he has learned so much from so many of you who have shared your journey that he feels it is important to share his story for anyone who it might help.

Troy was diagnosed with rectal cancer on November 17th, 2020 following a colonoscopy.  He was 50 years old at diagnosis.  Upon further testing, his cancer was staged as stage 4 due to a met in the liver.  He started chemotherapy in January and he had 3 cycles of Folfox which caused him some complications with his liver enzymes. His oncologist then decided to switch him to Folfori and he was able to complete 6 treatments of Folfori before being switched to targeted oral chemotherapy coupled with 25 radiation treatments.

In mid September he had ostomy surgery and the surgery was successful in removing the cancer  (He did make the decision to have a permanent stoma at the surgeon's recommendation).  Weeks later, we received the pathology report and the news was very positive.  We were told that the chemo had worked very well on him and that there was no cancer in any of the removed lymph nodes or any other tissue taken from the surgery.  The original tumor was approx. 5 cm prior to treatments and had shrunk to approx. 3 mm.  He is considered cured and of course he will be monitored closely.

He does have some complications from his surgery.  He has not been able to urinate by himself since the surgery and he has had a catheter since his release from the hospital in late September.  They have advised us that this can be a common complication from surgeries and they anticipate the he will be able to regain his full bladder function with more healing time.  He is currently under the care of a urologist.  I will update you on this once he regains this function.  

We are now about 9 weeks after his surgery and I can see that he is getting stronger and stronger.  The surgery was very painful for him at first.  He was not able to get out of bed for several weeks but the pain is becoming less and he is now able to sit for longer periods and has started exercising again.

With a stoma, he was very concerned about the foods that he could or could not eat.  We waited past the 6 weeks to start trying nuts and salad.  He ate mild foods while testing each new food a little at a time.  With our research what we found was that every person is so different that what one person can eat does not mean that another person will be able to eat it.  However, I will say that we waited past the 6 weeks to test some of the known foods that he may not be able to tolerate and I think this helped him heal better.  He is now eating nuts and salad with no issues.  This was exciting for him.  I will also say that at week 3 he made the mistake of trying a Big Mac because he was really craving it.  That left him in a lot of pain and I can guarantee you that he will never crave another Big Mac again.  Not worth it!  :)

Prior to Troy's fight with cancer, he used to have a busy work life.  So he would eat on the go.  Since his cancer diagnosis, we have put a focus on nutritious food (minus the Big Mac mistake).  We'll never know if this helped him with his outcome but our focus on nutrition gave us something that was more under our control since it felt like cancer was taking the control of our daily lives away from us.  Things he stays away from are preservatives in food and he tries to eat some antioxidant foods every day.  

Lastly, I want to mention that Troy was scared and nervous about having a permanent stoma but he will be able to do his favourite things such as golfing and maybe even mountain biking again.  He's already in a new routine and life is becoming as it used to be again.

Our hearts are with all of you fighting this fight!  

Comments

  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,562 **
    What a wonderful update

    Even though it has been a hard journey, and a long recovery, it is good to hear of all the positive outcomes from treatment and surgery, especially that they have found no evidence of disease - being NED is the best. 

    I wish him and also you, all the best as you move forward. Getting used to the stoma, and getting back to normal, at least the new normal of life after Cancer. 

    Thank you for such a detailed update. 

    Tru

  • DanNH
    DanNH Member Posts: 167 **
    edited November 2021 #3
    I am so happy for you both

    I am so happy for you both with Troy being clear of cancer. That is my dream for my wife. Let me suggest that you consider dietary changes and supplementations to make Troy's body an inhospitable host for cancer to regrow. May God bless him and keep him cancer free!

    Dan

  • SandiaBuddy
    SandiaBuddy Member Posts: 1,222 **
    Congratulations

    Congratulations.  The results sound great and it sounds like you and your husband are adjusting well to the "new normal."  The catheter issue is one that is rarely discussed on this forum or by the physicians, but that has obvious impact on a person's quality of life.  People first facing surgery should be sure to discuss the issue with their physicians and to have a plan for returning to a catheter-free lifestyle after surgery.

  • BerniceOB
    BerniceOB Member Posts: 25 **
    edited November 2021 #5
    I am so happy for you both

    Hi Dan,

    Thank you!  

    Troy and I have been following yours and Pam's story.  If I recall correctly she was diagnosed shortly after Troy started chemotherapy.  I remember being at the start of his treatment and seeing your first post.  I told Troy about you and Pam and we have both been thinking of you and sending you best wishes.  The thing with cancer is that even though individuals do not know each other there is a huge compassion for others fighting the same fight.  We will keep looking for updates on your wife.  We are thinking of her and we wish the same for her. 

    We agree with you regarding the dietary changes.  I mentioned it briefly in my post but we have made huge dietary changes.  We did work with an hollistic nutritionist and we have made big changes in order to hopefully make Troy's body an inhospitable host for cancer to regrow which includes the dietary changes and supplementations.  We have also removed any toxins from our home such as toxic free laundry detergents, cleaning products, etc.  Before his diagnosis, we did not realize how much toxins were around us in our daily lives.  We're very focused on anything within our control.

    Thanks again for the nice response!  We are praying for your wife. 

    Bernice 

  • BerniceOB
    BerniceOB Member Posts: 25 **
    edited November 2021 #6
    Congratulations

    Thank you!

    We had noticed that the catheter issue was rarely discussed and I had to do quite a bit of searching to find someone who had discussed a similar situation on this forum.  Once I located someone in a similar situation, it helped us understand that it can happen to others as well.  This individual posted that he regained function of his bladder 4 months after his surgery.  That information was very helpful to us since everyone that we knew who had a similar situation had it resolved within about a week.  Now, we know that we still have some time for more healing as we continue to work with the urologist.  I'll try to post again and update once we are through this unanticipated complication.  

     

     

  • BerniceOB
    BerniceOB Member Posts: 25 **
    edited November 2021 #7
    what a wonderful update

    Thank you Tru!  You've been an inspiration to us throughout this journey.   

  • SandiaBuddy
    SandiaBuddy Member Posts: 1,222 **
    edited November 2021 #8
    Helping others

    I think your mention of this topic also serves to help others who are heading into surgery.  No one ever mentioned a catheter to me--but there are some things you could do in advance of surgery, like take meds to shrink the prostate to make problems less likely.  I was on an experimental, quick turn-around surgery and could have left the hospital after one night if it had not been for catheter screw ups by the nursing staff.  They then tried to send me home with a catheter and I flatly refused, saying I came into the hospital without a catheter and I would leave without one.  There were some pretty tense meetings with the surgeon but I eventually prevailed, did fine, and have been catheter-free since then.  After the surgery I confronted the surgeon about even needing a catheter and she got very defensive.  I mean, the surgery is about 18" from the bladder, what is the deal?  I asked why they couldn't use a "trucker's catheter" or a diaper, and she had no intelligent response.  If I were to do surgery again, I would refuse to have a catheter.

  • Annabelle41415
    Annabelle41415 Member Posts: 6,715 **
    edited November 2021 #9
    What wonderful news

    Thank you so much for sharing your husband's story.  It is so good that he has adjusted so well to the stoma and getting on with life.  There are times when things just don't seem to go back to normal right away, but if the urologist isn't concerned with him not being able to urinate at this moment, don't let it bother you.  He should make sure that he chews his food very well now so that the stoma doesn't get clogged, but I'm glad you are introducing new foods.  The bland stuff gets old real fast.  Wishing the best for your hubby.

    Kim

  • BerniceOB
    BerniceOB Member Posts: 25 **
    edited November 2021 #10
    catheter removed

    In response to SandiaBuddy, you are absolutely correct.  My mention of the topic of the catheter was to help others who are heading into surgery.  If we had been aware, there are things we would have done differently prior to his surgery and immediately after his surgery.  

    I am also back today to report that my husband had the catheter removed on Tuesday and he is now able to urinate on his own.  He had the catheter for a little over 2 months.  Tuesday was a difficult day for him because they removed the catheter and then he could not urinate on his own when he tried.  He had to make several attempts and could only dribble a bit at a time but after several attempts he was able to start urinating on his own.  He basically would try then walk away and go right back to try again.  

    I apologize if I am sharing too much information but we had a hard time finding information on this topic while he was going through it and we feel that it may be helpful to others.  The inability to urniate after surgery is called postoperative urinary retention (POUR) for most people it gets better within a week or so but for my husband it took a little over 2 months.  

    I found the following article while I was tryting to find information on how to help my husband while he was going through this.  I am sharing this article with you in case it is helpful to anyone else.

    To Curb Urinary Complications After Outpatient Surgery, Bathroom Breaks Are Key (uofmhealth.org)

     

  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,562 **
    edited November 2021 #11
    Problems

    After one surgery - not Cancer related, and some mistreatment by the hospital staff, my bladder quit working and I ended up with a catheter for a month.  I had to tie the tube and release it when my bladder felt full, in order to train my bladder to learn how to work properly.  I had it changed several times, of coure, and that, I can tell you, was PAINFUL. 

    Did they have your husband tie his catheter tube?  

    I am happy to hear that all seems to be working now, and I hope that things go smoothly from now on. 

    Do not worry about the content of your posts. In this form, there is no shame or embarrasment about sharing personal medical information related to the Cancer journey. 

    Tru

  • SandiaBuddy
    SandiaBuddy Member Posts: 1,222 **
    Congratulations

    Congratulations.  It must feel great to get rid of that darned catheter.  TMI (too much information) is really not an issue on this forum, as many have forthright discussions of issues we face.  Hopefully people facing surgery will learn from the issues you have raised.

  • BerniceOB
    BerniceOB Member Posts: 25 **
    edited November 2021 #13
    Problems

    Hi Tru,

    No, my husband did not have to tie his catheter tube.  They kept removing the catheter and re-inserting a new catheter hours later when he was unable to use the washroom on his own.  Then they would give him another week or so to heal.  However, they had told him last Tuesday that if he was still unable to urinate on his own that they would teach him how to self catheter.  Since he was able to start using the washroom on his own that day, he did not have to learn how to self catheter. 

    The urologist had told him on his first appointment that he was probably still having issues due to the anesthesia therefore they were giving him more time to heal prior to trying the next steps.  

     

  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,562 **
    edited November 2021 #14
    Good news

    I am glad that it was an option down the road, and one that he ended up not needing. Not that it was a bad thing. The bad thing was the constant changing of the foley. That hurt so bad. While I am female, I don't doubt that it is the same for men - maybe even worse, as the urethra is longer. 

    So glad that he is progressing. 

    Tru