Re: Just diagnosed with colon cancer
I check in to this board occasionally to see if I can help someone because I got help here when I was first diagonosed with colon cancer. It is a difficult time, and I can tell you that you should not cross bridges until you get to them. That is hard to do, but if you know that you can cross each bridge as you come to it, rather than look at the whole journey back to good health then it is easier. I found that the anticipation was always worse than actually dealing with the situations as they arose.
I am two years after colon resection surgery, and back in good health (Cancer free) and going to the gym and jogging regularly. The surgery was not nearly as difficult as I anticipated. The worst part was boredom for 5 days after the surgery and an itchy allergic reaction I had to the morphine pain killer. I had very little pain or discomfort after surgery . I was just very tired for a day or two. The sooner I started walking the faster I felt better and began to recover. The first time you walk is a bit difficult because you are weak from the surgery, but it was not as hard as some people said it would be.
My surgery was done laprascopically. I would reccommend that if it is possible. Sometimes it is not possible and not everyone thinks it is that big of an advantage other than it leaves a smaller scar. My surgeon said he would not know until he was inside if that would be the best way to go. The surgery is scary, but in fact you go to sleep and wake up with a stitched up stomach and feeling very weak for a day or two and knowing that the tumor is not inside you anymore. Two years after the surgery scar is a faint line that is a reminder to take care of yourself.
The results of the surgery will grade the state of your colon cancer. Stages 1 to 3 all have very high cure success rates. Stage 4 is when the cancer has spread to other organs and its prognosis is not as good. I had to take capecitebine pills for 6 months which is an oral chemo treatment. The side effects were minimal. The important concerns are how advanced the tumor is, has it gone into the lymph nodes, is it a high or low grade cellular tumor and did you get clear margins at the surgery site. This means if they take out 8 inches of colon that the margins or cut edges were cancer free. The more lymph nodes they can check the better. My surgery had 27 lymph nodes checked. I have heard that at least 12 at a minimum need to be biopsied. If the cancer has spread to any of the lymph nodes then you will be at stage 3 and need a follow up chemo treatment. Stage 2 may or may not require chemo based on other factors your doctor will consider.
I did not have any issues after the surgery with bowel movements and I have none today. If anything I am better than before because constipation was a symptom of my cancer.
A big concern of mine was if I would be on "the bag" after surgery, either temporarily or permanently. I do know some people who were on the bag and they were still going skiing with me on weekends and it did not really affect them as much as they had anticipated it would. I know that is also a concern that you have now.
If you have a stage one or two tumor you will most likely be fine. If you have a stage 3 then you still have a good chance of beating this. If you have a stage 4 then the prognosis is not good. It is hard waiting to know what you will have to face.
I feel like I was one of the lucky ones with a stage 2 and no bag needed, and I hope you are too. If I can tell you anything more specific based on my experience I will be happy to. You are 42, and I was 62. Being young and strong will make this much easier for you because your body will recover faster.