Ready to Commence Battle

BowelCancerUK

I have purposely tried not to let my cancer updates take over my blog which is mainly about gardening, gardens and my love of photography.  However, I am also using my blog as an outlet for my thoughts on the battle I have ahead of me.  Yes, to an extent this is self-indulgent but that is what a personal blog is all about really, isn’t it?  There may be those who don’t want to read about my battle against cancer but I hope there are readers who will find this of some help in one way or another, even it is just to bring awareness of bowel cancer.

In a post on 13 April, I added at the bottom an update about the CT guided biopsy on 3 April.   I was so hoping that the Multi Disciplinary Team (MDT) were going to meet on the 11th with an appointment to see the colorectal surgeon on the 18th.  By the beginning of last week I had not heard anything so I called the colorectal nurse who said that the MDT meeting had not discussed my case because the histology report was not through in time.   Rather than bore you with the many phone calls between her, me and the consultants secretary, I was called on the 17th to say that the report was through and I had an appointment at 11:15 on the 18th.

Any one who knows me will know that I never do things by half or that life is ever simple for me – I am just one of those people!  I was told that the report had taken such a long time because there were a lot of various tests to be done on the biopsy.  They found that I have what is a called a GIST – a gastro intestinal stromal tumour, which is not connected to the bowel cancer, which is an adenocarcinoma (a glandular tissue cancer).  The cells are very slow growing and not ringing any alarm bells at the moment but it does need to be removed.  GISTs are quite rare and when malignant are sarcomas (soft tissue cancers).  I am just really, really unlucky to have two types of tumours.

They need to know what it is attached to, as it moves slightly it is probably on a stem, but surrounding good tissue has to be removed at the same time so it is important to locate what organ it is attached to.  Whilst initially it was thought that both operations could be done together, the Gastro Intestinal Surgeon has said to go ahead with the bowel resection and he will come into the operating theatre and take a look.  There is no plan at the moment to remove it at the same time now.  This will have to be done under a separate operation which, if chemo follows (and I don’t believe this is an option), it will have to be done within 6 weeks of the first operation.

I have an operation date of 7 May and am now signed off work.  My GP feels I need to rest and get some sleep, which is evading me at the moment, so that I am fit to face what is ahead of me.   Knowing that I won’t be back at work for many months is strange and it was a sad day to say good bye to my colleagues.   I intend to enjoy the good weather, get the garden straight and catch up with friends.  At least we are going into the Summer months which should help, it could be worse and have the dark, cold Winter months looming.

So there we are, the battle date is in sight and it will only be when I come around I will know what was taken out, and if I have an ileostomy or colonostomy, whether it’s temporary or permanent, or have been lucky enough to have neither.  I will then have to wait another 7 to 10 days to find out what stage my cancer is at and any chemo treatment they have planned for me.  If all goes well, and they managed it as a laparoscopy (keyhole surgery), I should be out within 3/4 days and I will be going to stay with my youngest daughter in Southsea for a week to recuperate and then back home.

Meanwhile, I have two weeks ahead to publish cheerful garden posts.

Oh, one more thing – I found this little ditty which whilst it will make you smile has a very serious message behind it.  Bowel cancer doesn’t just affect those over 60, as I have discovered there are many younger people who are affected.  So, as the song says “Test your Poo”.

Coming Face to Face with Eric

I have suffered from IBS for many years so there was no real noticeable change in my bowel habits.  For the last few years my GP has been telling me that the bright red blood when I go to the loo was due to piles.  It was only when I started passing blood clots and blood stained mucus that I went back to him on 31 January 2013.  He fast tracked me to the Colorectal clinic at the local hospital.

logobowel cancer

14 February 2013:  I had a rigid sigmoidoscopy which only goes up the first part of the bowel.  Not the most comfortable thing to have done on Valentine Day.   I was told I had a couple of grade III hemorrhoids but for belt and braces it was arranged for me to have a flexible sigmoidoscopy – this goes further around the sigmoid section of the large intestine.

27 February 2013:  with the help of gas and air to take the edge of the camera passing through the bowel some polyps were found.  I could see from the monitor in front of me that they didn’t look right and sensed from the tone of voice of the consultant, who had been called in, that he was not happy and he ordered 3 biopsies to be taken and a CT scan and full colonoscopy was arranged.

6 March 2013:  I had the CT scan.

10 March 2013:  Two days before the colonoscopy I had to have a bland diet, and ate poached chicken breast and mash potato for Mother’s Day lunch, loving prepared by my eldest daughter.

11 March 2013:, A fluids only day and at 7:00p.m. I drank the first litre of a revolting concoction called Moviprep.   7:00 am on the morning of the colonoscopy, I had to endure the second litre of Moviprep which made me sick so I lost some of it, however it didn’t prevent it working!

12 March 2013: Prior to the full colonoscopy I was told that I had bowel cancer in the sigmoid section and they also needed to do a gastroscopy (a camera into the stomach) as the CT scan had shown up something.  So I had an endoscopy from both ends! I don’t remember much as I was given a sedative which knocked me out for a short while.

14 March 2013:   I saw the consultant, with my youngest daughter, and he told us the CT scan had shown up enlarged lymph nodes in my pelvis, abdomen and lungs but strangely it has not affected my liver, which has confused them somewhat as this is not the normal progression.   I am due to have biopsies on the abdomen and lungs next week to determine what the next step will be.   I had sarcoidosis many years ago which affects the lymph glands and there is a possibility that this is the problem, but until they know they can’t decide whether to do chemo first or surgery.

The Macmillan nurse was lovely and gave me lots of information from Beating Bowel Cancer and told me she would be my support.

So, at the time of writing this I still do not know what stage my cancer is at, the treatment required or what the prognosis is.  I have read many case histories in which many people have lived for beyond 5 years even when diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer so I am holding on to that thought.   At the moment it is still difficult to understand why this is happening, I don’t feel ill, I am in no pain and there is nothing tangible to hang the cancer label on.  It is there though and my fight starts now.

Why “Coming Face to Face with Eric”?  I have named my cancer Eric and am going to fight him tooth and nail, it’s tough being positive but I am not going to let it get me down although I know there will be some very hard days ahead.  I am going to use my blog to write about my days and bring Bowel Cancer to the attention of others.  It is a silent cancer with symptoms that are all too easy to ignore.  DON’T IGNORE THEM!!

With the support from my lovely family and close friends I know I will make it.