CANCER: YEAR ONE
Updated: Mar 27, 2022
Did I mention I hate needles?
The week of February 18th, 2018 was kind of a rough one for me. It actually started a few weeks earlier when I found that I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sit down. It had been building for a while, but this was something new. I went to a walk-in clinic and the Doctor there took one look and told me I needed to go to the hospital - NOW. I had an abscess in my butt cheek that needed to be drained.
Well, that’s embarrassing, but ok, I went off to the emergency room and they drained it, stuffed my cheek full of gauze and sent me home with a bottle full of antibiotics. Just over two weeks later I was back at my Doctor because as soon as I finished the antibiotics I felt it coming back. He wrote me a prescription for a different antibiotic and sent me home. That was a Thursday and now it was Sunday, February 18th, and I was back in the Emergency room.
I am so thankful that I had a woman Doctor treating me that day. She was able to see that something wasn’t right, but she couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then my husband told her that I had lost fifteen pounds since Christmas, without trying. (I was thrilled, by the way, despite being in a lot of pain. The baby weight is finally gone! She’s about to turn 20, so yay me!). So the Doctor arranged for me to come back for an ultrasound the next morning.
Have you ever heard people talk about angels walking amongst us? I don’t believe that angels have wings and sit around playing a harp all day. I believe in angels here on earth, and I was about to meet one.
Stuart was my ultrasound technician and he reassured me that he’s been doing ultrasounds for 30 years and immediately put me at ease. Until he told me he had to do a rectal ultrasound. WTF!!! Immediate panic. A rectal ultrasound? What the hell is that? The only thing that I could compare it to was a vaginal ultrasound, so you can imagine I was not all that jazzed to have that big long pointer stuck up my rectum. I can still barely sit, and now you want to stick something up there?
But instead of asking, I just panicked. I didn’t know if I wanted to know, and definitely was too scared to ask. I started to cry, and Stuart reassured me that we didn’t have to continue if I didn’t want to, so we started with the ultrasound on my belly, and when he was done I rolled overland took a deep breath and braced myself. I needed to find out what was going on because I had been in a lot of pain for a long time. I didn’t care what he had to do, I needed to have this pain taken care of. Here’s my first lesson: it’s never as bad as what you think, so just ask. Turns out, a rectal ultrasound is just the same as an abdominal one - just a wand going back and forth over my lower back. Phew! That would have been good information to be given up front!
Stuart realized right away that he was looking at something serious and called the Radiologist in. They told me there was something concerning and sent me back to the emergency room. Suddenly the nurses were being way more attentive and I was being offered pain killers like they were tic tacs. I sat and waited for a CT scan, which happened Monday night, then was told to come back the next morning, Tuesday, to talk to a surgeon.
After all of that I still wasn’t thinking cancer. I honestly thought I had a really bad case of haemorrhoids. And I was afraid of what the treatment might be, so I put off going to the Doctor. Laughable now.
Tuesday morning, February 20th, 2018 was the day I found out I had colon cancer.
We went into the emergency room and waited to talk to the Doctor, who turned out to be a Surgeon. Still not thinking cancer. He did a rectal exam, which was the most unpleasant ten to twenty seconds of my life thus far, and it was confirmed. You have colon cancer. I’m 99.9% sure of it. I can feel a mass right there. You mean to tell me that no one has done a rectal exam? He was angry.
If you’re wondering what it feels like to find out you have cancer I hope you know how lucky you are. It means you’ve never heard those words spoken to you.
The room started to spin when I heard them, and had a swishing sound in my ears. The Doctor left us alone and we just held onto each other and cried. That’s the problem with cancer - it’s hidden away and no one ever talks about it, except in whispers, so it’s really scary and you assume your number is up.
Thursday the 22nd I had to go for a colonoscopy and it was confirmed. I had an aggressive form of colon cancer.
Finally, it’s Friday and thank God this week is almost over. Just one appointment today to follow up with the surgeon.
That’s when I was told that I would have to have colostomy surgery and I would have to live with that for the rest of my life.
More tears and days of trying to make sense of what’s happening.
I was admitted as a patient to the cancer side of the hospital and then everything stopped for a while. At least it felt like it, but things were happening behind the scenes. They were preparing everything for my treatment... ©