I am a 47 yr old male who had rectal cancer 2 inches inside from the anus. I had my entire rectum and anal sphincter removed in May 2001 and now have a permanent colostomy.
It was tough but not unbearable. 10 days in hospital and lost 20 lbs(2 days nothing by mouth then 3 days of liquid diet then the rest I could eat a little)
The pain was not bad, the epidural worked good, hardly needed the T3's after the epidural was out. Mostly it was weakness and getting very tired easily. I also had a slight problem with low blood pressure that persisted throughout my recovery even after discharge from the hospital. The thing I disliked, bothered me the most was the urinary catheter.
Chemo started a few weeks after discharge. It was not too bad either. only had a few days when I was reaaallllyyy brung down, hung down. The chemo unit here(now this could be different for you , I am in a small town in Canada) told me to come in anytime I had a problem. I went in(got a ride there) when I was feeling that low and they gave me IV saline as I was dehydrated and also a drug called Maxeran (spelling might not be 100%) that is a steroid that brought my energy level right up(actually over the top first time,which is a funny story, I wrote two poems and prepared supper for the wife that day. My wife went to work with me all but unable to leave the bed and came home to a clean house and supper ready and me talking a mile a minute, after that they gave me a lower dose if I needed it) Chemo lasted 6 months. In the middle of the chemo I was also getting radiation for 6 weeks. The radiation was nothing at the first but near the end the skin between my legs was getting badly sunburned. Lubriderm helps as does a topical steroid like polysporin(use lightly).
Chemo was given on weekdays for one week then two weeks off then another week of chemo. The first 4 days after a week of treatments are the hardest then you start to come back. My chemo was two drugs one called 5-FU(yes that is FU) and leukavorin (again my spelling might be off). Of those the leukavorin is injected first and causes cancer cells to become more sensitive to the actual anticancer drug, 5-FU.
The colostomy is a learning experience. It takes a baby a few years to get the hang of pooping in a toilet, it will take time to get the hang of having a colostomy. Accidents happen but less and less often as you get to know what going on down there. You can swim, exercise, do physical work such as plumbing or gardening and eat whatever you want with a sigmoid colostomy such as mine. Only thing is gas. Beano works for beans and cauliflower/ cabbage family foods but watch out for onions. Also keep in mind you do NOT have to stay with the exact type of wafer and pouch they give you in hospital. Do the research and find what's best for you.
This is long a post, but I hope it helps.