Blind Sided

I had always been a pretty healthy caucasian male for 58 years.  I've had some broken bones, some elective surgeries for tonsils, appendix, sinus problems and a few other illnesses but never anything that I would consider life threatening.  Until 7 months ago.  I went to a GI specialist because of what I thought was an extra stubborn hemorroidal flare up.  He performed a colonoscopy and informed me that in his opinion I had rectal cancer.  From that point on my life became a whirlwind.  I went through chemotherapy and radiation at the same time for 5 weeks.  That treatment regimen was rugged and filled with every side affect I was told I might experience and then some.  After several weeks of recuperation I had the first surgery to remove the cancerous section of my rectum and a portion of the colon above it.  I was given an ileostomy for 3 months.  I learned to live with it by pretty much hated it all the way through.  On New Year's Eve of 2009 I had the ostomy removed and the reconnection was made.  I am considered to be cancer free now and did not undergo post operative additional chemotherapy based on consultations with the oncologist who reviewed my case.  I have been trying to deal with the after affects of the last seven months and may have something to share with others who have had a similar situation.  All in all I think I was pretty lucky to have gone to a doctor when I did.  What kind of lulled me into a sense of false security is the fact that I had a flexible sigmoidoscopy six years prior and it turned up clear according to the doctor who performed it at that time.  With no history of colorectal cancer in my family I should have been good to go for ten years; or so I thought.  However, during the full fledged colonoscopy a couple polyps were found well beyond the rectal area and removed.  One of which was considered precancerous.  Had I not taken my symptoms of blood tinged stool seriously and had the colonosocopy the cancer could have spread beyond the confines of the rectum.  It is likely I was only months from having that happen.  My family and my employer were very helpful, patient and understanding during this whole ordeal.  All in all in only missed about three weeks of work;  both related to the surgeries.  But this was no doubt enabled by the fact that I have primarily a supervisory type of job and am paid a salary.   

6031purple 6031purple
56-60, M
2 Responses Feb 22, 2010

As someone told following a recent colonoscopy that the adenoma found in my rectum may be cancerous, I appreciated your informative post. This week I will have an MRI and ultrasound to determine the existence and extent of the cancer. I appeciated the information you provided about time fr<x>ames and I was particularly glad to read that you were able to work through much of the ordeal, as I will need to continue part-time tutoring in order to support myself on my current SSI income. <br />
To me, the ironic aspect of this is that a few months ago I felt I was especially healthy--not catching viruses often as I once did. I can only hope that bodes well for me. Even now my symptoms are mild; a lot of gas and a feeling sometimes of not having thoroughly relived myself. <br />
I've been putting some projects off and think that one good thing that may come out of this is that I will get a stronger sense of my own mortality and will get to work while I still have time. <br />
Thanks again, and best wishes for your ongoing good health.

continued good luck and good health to you.