Thursday, November 24, 2005

Next Step - Surgical Oncology

Today has been difficult. My gastroenterologist gave me the bad news that I have a cancerous tumour in the sigmoid colon that is about 8 cm in length. It has probably been growing there for six to eight years without me being aware there was a problem until recently. Next week, I am scheduled to meet with a surgical oncologist to discuss the CAT scan and MRI that will be conducted to help in the staging of the cancer, primarily to determine the full size of the tumour and whether or not it has metastasised into the liver or other organs. Then there will be a round of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink the tumour in preparation for surgery which may be performed sometime just before Christmas.

It will be during surgery that the appropriately named “surgical staging” will occur. That will determine the extent to which (if any) the lymph nodes have been infected. The hope is that the surgery will be able to remove the entire tumour as well as surrounding tissue that might be infected while leaving sufficient tissue behind to resection the bowel. If there isn’t enough tissue left, then I will likely have to undergo a colostomy.

The impact of the surgery, various therapies and recovery time will be substantial not only on me (7-10 days in hospital plus 6-8 weeks recovery), but on my family. This was difficult news to bear. It was very emotional for all of us, but we have a strong family and care deeply for one another. We will need to support one another and keep things as normal as possible.

If all goes well, I will recover and deal with an annual colonoscopy. If it doesn’t go well…we’ll deal with that when the time comes.  I remain hopeful, especially that the financial impact will not be crippling and that I will be able to remain productive at work.

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