Trigirl - some history on me:
My dad and his sister both died from colon cancer. Back in the 1980's.
I had 2 benign colon polyps removed in 1997 (a routine pap and anal smear revealed slight blood in my stool).
I began experiencing faint rectal bleeding Dec. 1998. My Internist said I "probably had hemorrhoids". I wanted to believe that, so I did for a few months. STUPID PLAN! By Feb. 1999, I knew I needed to see my Gastro doc. He did a Flex-sig on April 6, 1999. He found a "polyp" barely inside, bleeding, without touching it. The exam room went instantly silent, so I knew I had cancer. I knew in that split second. He said to call him the following day at noon. By 2 pm, April 7th, I knew it was malignant.
A 3 week period began of pre-op testing, seeing a colon surgeon, etc.
I was told all along that my cancer was caught extremely early, my tumor (the "polyp" changed to a tumor by now) was only 1 inch in size. Most patients come to surgeons with baseball sized tumors I was told.
2 days before my scheduled April 29th surgery, I had one final test - a rectal ultrasound. Up until now, the plan was to "scoop" out my tumor, and begin either chemo or radiation for 6 weeks. The ultrasound revealed the tumor was possibly penetrating the third bowel wall layer. My simple surgery turned into major surgery, in the blink of an eye. Instead of a 1 day stay, I was in for 7. I had a major incision, not a simple, lower colon dilation. A temp colostomy, reversed 2 months later. My gall bladder removed also (since a pre-op cat scan revealed hundreds of gall stones).
Long story short, because I had major surgery, my surgeon was able to obtain clean margins, so I didn't need chemo or radiation. I was diagnosed with Stage I rectal cancer (the official dx).
Because they had clean margins, they got all the cancer. It had never spread and wasn't penetrating the third bowel wall layer, only resting on it, about
to penetrate it.
I could have had the simple scoop out surgery, in hindsight. But my surgeon always said - "it's best to get clean margins whenever possible".
BUT, my life has been anything but normal ever since. I am grateful my cancer never returned. I haven't even had one stinking benign colon polyp since 1997!
That's my experience.......in case you are wondering, managing a temp colostomy was much easier than what I am going thru now. But now we have lousy medical insurance, two daughters in college that we are supporting (something I want to do). So now is not the time for more surgery. So I am putting up with my situation as best I can.
Hope that wasn't too wordy! I feel as though I am in a life boat all alone though, I don't quit fit in with cancer survivors who have had treatments, I don't fit in with Crohn's or Colitis patients, and while I was never officially diagnosed with IBS/D, my surgeons have said I fall in this IBS/D category the most now.
I often joke - if I could only give up food! (don't worry, I won't.....LOL). But food is sometimes my enemy. I sure know what "we are what we eat" means now!
Good luck to you. In hindsight, I wished I had asked a lot more questions than I did. But all of this was so new to me back in early April, 1999.
[*EDIT*] - I had one important year incorrect, LOL! My rectal bleeding began in 1998! Not 1988! I changed it......
- Diagnosed with rectal cancer, April 1999 - Stage I, no treatment necessary
(5 hour colon resection: 90% sigmoid removed, 15 inches of colon removed, gall bladder removed, given temporary colostomy)
- Colostomy reversal, June 1999
- Left with IBS/D symptoms, multiple bm's every day
- On a low residue diet at least 75% of the time
- Takes Colace 50 mg each evening
All in all I do okay, I just use the bathroom A LOT! But I survived and beat cancer!
Post Edited (Marsky) : 5/28/2009 11:23:17 AM (GMT-6)