Posted 6/28/2008 7:22 AM (GMT -7)
I was diagnosed with rectal cancer, April of 1999. My tumor was an inch in size, barely inside. I examined myself a few times. A rectal ultrasound revealed it was through 2 layers of the bowel tissue and possibly through the third. I had a 5 hour surgery, major incision, having my gallbladder out too (a CT revealed hundreds of gall stones too), 90% of my sigmoid removed (reservoir where stool is collected), 15 inches of my colon, a temporary colostomy (reserved 2 months later). After my colon resection, it was noted that my tumor was malignant and had to come out of course (early biopsies revealed it was cancer) but more importantly, it was resting on the third layer of bowel wall tissue. Not penetrating. My surgeon did admit I didn't need the major surgery after all, they could have "scooped" out the tumor, my stay would have been 1 day, not 7, I wouldn't have needed a temp ostomy. However, I would have need chemo or radiation and they wouldn't have had clean margins.
So long story short, he maintained it was a good thing I had major surgery.
Another but, my life has never been the same since.
I now have IBS like symptoms, multiple bm's a day (at least a dozen), have to follow a low residue diet, keep my stress level low, find the nearest bathroom when out in public (I've gone EVERYWHERE!).
But I have my life, my cancer never did come back. If I had the simple scoop-out type surgery, it may have. They could have left a few stray cancer cells I was told.
My surgeon also said 20 years ago, I would have had a perm. colostomy. But since then he seemed very proud they could return patients to normal. Meaning, no perm. colostomy, as in my case. I still laugh at his use of the word normal.
I am anything but normal.
I also eat very lightly now and sometimes fast for social events. Of all the things that I have tried to fit in with a normal colon world, it's that - less food, means less output. I fast for long car rides too. I end up feeling much better when I eat 6 very small meals a day, not 3 large ones, as I used to, before cancer. I can never eat a full meal when dining out. I have to take at least half home in a doggie bag. My latest trick is to bypass the entire entree section of a restaurant menu and order just from the sides section. A side salad and baked potato fill me up now and I'm not holed up in the bathroom afterwards.
Just keep in mind, if you experience lots of D after your reversal, you could go on the low residue diet (plain foods, low fiber, do a search and you'll find lots of links). A low residue diet saved my life back then. If not for the internet and message boards, I never would have learned what one is - most doctors suggest high fiber. Fresh summer fruits (berries and such) and whole wheat products just do me in! I can't have either. But I am happy with my diet now (which my hubby has dubbed the "white" diet, since most of the foods I eat are white: plain bread, bagels, english muffins, applesauce, bananas, white rice, plain yogurt, mashed potatoes, fish, chicken, turkey, etc.).
Wishing you my best.