Sunday, January 6, 2013

Surviving Stage IV Colorectal Cancer the part you do not see

The Blue Star which represents Colon cancer 
In June of 2007 I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic colorectal cancer . It was not only in my colon and rectum but had spread to my liver.
Those of us who survive this long and stay in remission of the disease is only 5-6 %  and thou we may look normal on the outside we suffer daily with  lingering issues caused by the very toxic Chemotherapy  medicines used to treat the disease, Radiation to kill tumors and stop them from bleeding   and radical surgery you must undergo to try and beat it. 

I was diagnosed at age 47  young for colon cancer patients  but getting it younger also gave me a better chance of possibly fighting it off you see once you receive a stage IV diagnosis it is considered a terminal diagnosis as it can come back at any point and kill you or you may win the battle again and face it several more times till it or one of the side issues it causes like pneumonia or heart attack  finally puts you in the grave . Some are very fortunate survivors living 20 plus years with out a recurrence which I hope to be one of them, while others never live past the first  month to 2 years  once diagnosed.

There is no cure for cancer rather they manage the symptoms of the disease as they try to stop its spread. Chemo only works in a very limited fashion to shut down cancer cells as it kills good cells  and luckily in my case the use of Folfox known as FU4 and Avastin did the trick along with surgery to remove the cancer and radiation to stop the bleeding one tumor was doing which caused me to loose half my body's blood count . But much damage is done to your body.
radiation causes all kind of life long issues such as osteoporosis and dental problems , Chemo causes all kinds of skin problems , memory , vision problems ,neuropathy and  vertigo issues.  and can possibly bring on  dementia and other brain diseases. The surgery to remove part of your liver means no digestion of   alcohol , Tylenol or artificial sweeteners . The surgery that removes your rectum and replaces it with a J pouch formed from part of your good intestine means finding your new normal  with bowel habits which means always being on guard against accidents and being stuck in bathroom with terrible bowel spasms and uncontrollable bouts of diarrhea . Constant gas and the constant immediate urge to go after eating. all of which can be extremely embarrassing .But on you go looking
healthy on the outside some days but never revealing what is really going on inside.
People have no ideal what you have been thru or what you are going thru. But thats the way it is when you deal with a horrifying disease like cancer and many others. You can not see it but its there everyday to mess with you one way or the other.


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