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Nathan's Cancer Blog

Rectal Surgery Questions

We are about three weeks post radiation and chemo.  We are preparing for the surgery and as most of you know we have been surgeon shopping so to speak.  I just want to give you guys an update about what we are thinking and ask you rectal and anal cancer friends about the surgery. 

Our local surgeon is a good man.  My understanding is that he is the most senior/years experience in my state.  He has done this for a long time and has seen a lot.  The hesitation is that he saw my wife two years ago and 18 months ago and missed diagnosing her with cancer.  I feel that you don;t become a advanced stage three maybe stage four over night.  Dang hemmeroids and her outstanding health and youth, but that is water under the bridge.  It is now what it is and we are where we are at and can't go back and change the past.  The good is that he has seen a lot and believes that we he can save her from not having a colosomy bag.  The other advantage is that he is local, we'll regarded and will operate with the gyn. oncologist that my wife likes who is one of the best if not the best in my state as said by three separate doctors.  The current issues are that he really took a lot of biopsy of the tumor and my wife almost died one night in the ER in my arms from bleeding and all we got was a sorry I should have not taken so much or so many biopsy and stood my ground better with the the oncologist.  So my wife is worried that he will be sloppy.

The new surgeon that we meet with today is the head of colon and rectal surgery for the major hospitals in my state is in the prime of his career and has been trained in the most recent techniques of this surgery.  He did an exam on my wife and it looks like the tumor has shrunk over 50% in size.  He did mention that it should continue to shrink but he doesn't expect it to be gone by the surgery.  The down side is we must travel and he is really worried about my wife having to have a colosomy and is recommending that she gets one now inplace of a year later.  The advantage now is that he can save several inches of colon and at her age this will give her a good colosmy.  He has said that if the cancer allows me I will save your anus, but understand with just a few centimeters of rectum left she may not have the best control.  The other down side is that I am worried is that he is so much by the book that he is going to remove more rectum on the high end than what the other surgeon will.  He also does not operate with the gyn. oncologist that is the best and liked by my wife.  The advantage is that he is probably the technical best surgeon in my state.

We are taking this week and going to figure this out.  It's a lot on our plates right now.  The second doctor is worried about the iliac node and is not certain if all of the cancer can be removed.  It's adjacent to the third largest artery in your body so their is not much room to make error and it's not like he can scrape the cancer out if it has attached to the artery. 

My question and I apologize as I am assuming anal cancer patients are similar to my wife as her tumor is only 5-6 cm up past the anal (diverge)??  Give me some thoughts on the colosmy.  I know no one would like one but talk to me.  My wife as I have said is young healthy and fingers crossed has a long active life ahead of her, how bad are the bags?

I will say I hate this disease, their is not a day that goes by that I dont' loathe it.  Watching it eat the life out of my wife is hard, I pray we cought it in time. 

I will also say if their is a silver linning to this, just like the cancer that has attacked my wife and has grown at an extreme rate so has my respect, admiration and love for my wife grown.  She is a fighter and stronger than I ever thought or stronger than me.  We are closer than ever.


As always I humbly thank you for your responses and openess. 

God Bless

Thomas, Susan J threw a punch at your cancer.
3 people sent you a prayer.
Thomas sent you a hug.
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Dear Nathan,
We are so honored to have you as a member. Thank you!
Most anal cancer patients, no longer have colostomies. The bad thing; unknown cancer remaining. They use to take the entire anal sphincter years ago, for anal cancer.
A few did get the bag and will hopefully, write a post.
It does seem, most of us also, had the wrong "hemorrhoid" or other misdiagnosis, including me.
From what I have read on colostomies, after the healing, it become pretty normal life (other than added responsibilities of bags, but that can be dealt with). I think you can google; people that have the bag, and see some good stories. There are reasons people have them other than cancer, of course.
Is there a way you guys can consult with your primary care doc, or gynecologist to help you sort out the dilemma with the doctors?
I am so sorry you are going through all this.
We love you guys!!
Love and hugs, Jean
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Yes we go back to the medical oncologist on Monday. I guess I'm not sure why I thought the anal cancer folks ended up with bags. I guess I figured cancers that low required removal of the anus and lower rectum. I learn something everyday. I will say if I had my choice I'd choose another subject to be educated on.
Thanks easterly.
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This is a good story; video at bottom (but skip the ad for the colon meds)
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You do have a lot on your plates, you both are in my thoughts and prayers. Since you are undecided about surgeons (I would be) can you get to MD Anderson in Houston for another opinion? If not, you may be able to get your Oncologist to forward your records and get an opinion. They do have state of the art equipment and are a world renowned Cancer Center.

I was told by 2 very prominent Oncologists that there was no standard chemotherapy treatment for my metastized anal cancer, sorry there is nothing we can do. All my hope of survival was stripped away by their words. But only for a moment, they told me they would contact Hospice, even though I was not "bed ready" I would qualify for palliative care, the only catch was they had to write a letter stating I had... I stopped them, I did not want a timeline, I know Hospices guidelines, that I will leave it to God as he is the only one who knows. Both seemed very caring and compassionate, and I trust them both. I just found the "there's nothing more we can do" unacceptable, although it is the standard protocol for stage IV anal cancer that has mets.

I went home and sat with my son n husband, had that talk about my wishes, so that's out of the way. I told them I am the helper/caregiver in the family and I owe it to myself and in their memory of our loved ones to explore all resources available as I would do for anyone, why not me.

The main resource, the only reliable resources are found here in BFAC, I shared my lack of options, so many suggested that I contact MD Anderson, Dr. Cathy Eng is the gold standard when it comes to anal cancer, she is in GI Oncology. I found her email address on a clinical trial she headed up. It was like 2 am and I sent her an email with a brief history and asked if she could help me. I told my husband when I was finished, that may have been a waste of time, I will not hear from her, she probably doesn't even read her emails. Was I wrong, the next day at noon, my phone rang, it was HER, she personally called me, she said she felt she had something I would benefit from, I asked about the trial which she could not disclose as it's an active trial, but reiterated she had something I could benefit from. She asked if I was up for travel, I said physically yes, financially no, but God had led me to her and he would see I get there, so YES. I saw her the next week.

My husband and I drove 1200 miles one way, we left North Augusta, SC with no HOPE, I was grasping to find answers. During the trip I would get discouraged, we could not afford the trip, yet friends and family made it happen, our son even paid for our 9 day hotel stay. I kept thinking was I chasing a lost cause? Then something would snap,me out of it, a text saying we are with you, God has this or is there anything you guys need? Just out of the blue signs would appear and I finally opened my mind and decided to focus on the positive.

After all, we will be married 40 years this October. When we met 40 years ago, we did the east coast/west coast trip, married on the way back. We had always said we wanted to do that again, so we made it out west, just not as far and it was great, it brought back so many memories of our days on the road, that drive was truly a God send, we have always loved each other, this trip just allowed us to see how far we had come in 39 years and our love for each other is stronger than ever.

When we met with Dr. Eng, she read all the labs/scans that she ordered and they were compared to all my records and my scans. She said there were other treatment plans for me, they may not be for anal cancer, yet are approved for other cancers. Being a research institute, she can recommend the treatment plan. My husband was so excited, he asked, does this mean she is a candidate for the trial? She said oh no, the clinical trials are for patients who have no options, your wife has a lot of options. HOPE was restored. She gave me a written treatment plan recommendation, that I was able to bring back to my local Oncologist. That was in December '16, in March '17, I returned for restaging and I am responding and my tumors had significant shrinkage. I return next week for restaging.

I'm so sorry for such a lengthy reply, I just wanted to let you see, a different opinion from a facility that does nothing but cancer research gave me options, restored my hope. If I would have accepted what I was told by my Drs here in November, that hospice letter would have stated that I had 6 months to live, well I am 1 month beyond that timeline and my cancer is shrinking. I'm sure there are many patients who trust their Drs and accept what they are told, and give up. I'm just a person who does not believe that no is a final answer.

You dilemma with the surgeons, in my humble opinion, you have to have a open and trusting relationship with all your doctors. If it was me, the first surgeon would be my last resort, that's just me. The 2nd surgeon has up to date training and seems to have a good approach, I personally would need a little more convincing.

I do not have a colostomy, although I had 15 months of explosive, uncontrollable, no warning 15-20 bouts of diarehhea daily. I only had 2 options left, 1- they insert an electrical probe in the nerve on my tailbone, which I would have a remote and could control my bowels, only a 50% success rate and frequent breaks in the lead which would require another surgery. 2- colostomy, I was so miserable, spent so much time in the bathroom only to return as soon I thought I was done, that I had decided I would do the colostomy, I have heard great things about them.

Before I told my surgery my decision, I started the chemo treatment plan from MDA and it caused constipation, I have not had any diarrehea since January. God is in control.

I hope my rambling has shed enough light on why I feel a 2nd opinion from a facility that that's all they do, is worth the time to make sure your wife is getting the very best care. As long as you both are convinced of that, then you will have no regrets and further treatment will be acceptable. At least the 2nd opinion can verify and confirm if a colostomy is necessary.

Please take care of yourself, as a caregiver it's so easy to get burned out quickly, make sure you eat, drink plea to of fluids and get as much rest as possible. I know firsthand how easy it is to become spent, and continue on until you hurt yourself and are no good to yourself .or your wife. Please is you haven't already, speak to your doctor and get something to calm your nerves and help you sleep, as well as a mild antidepressant - in a persons lifetime we go through 3 or more bouts of depression/anxiety in our lifetime, it's called situational depression, there is nothing wrong about taking something, which will help keep you focused. Please keep us updated. You, your wife and your children are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you. {{hugs}} Ann

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Ann ... I was getting ready to write a reply, then read your post .... couldn't have said it better.

Nathan ... most anal cancer fighters have the chemo/radiation protocol for their first round. Unfortunately, for local recurrence, a colostomy is the treatment protocol. I know it is irrational, but that is one of my biggest fears. There are people on this blog who have gone down that path and from what I have seen, they continue to live a fun, full life.

As far as Ann's suggestion for another opinion, I would agree. It is so important for you to fully, completely trust your docs. I don't think I would want to go back to the first surgeon. Sometimes younger guys are better (my rad onc, who was my absolute fav doc was right out of residency), as they are up on the lastest techniques. The reality here is there just isn't a huge population of us so it is hard to find an expert with a lot of experience. I have a special prayer for times like these that I will say for you. It goes something like this ..

God, I cannot make this decision on my own. Please close the doors that need to be close, open the doors that need to be opened. And for the doors that are closed, please nail them shut. And for the ones that are opened, please also open the windows and throw in a few singing birds and a neon sign that says enter here, that would be helpful. Amen

Take care of yourself.

Many many hugs!!
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Thank you so much for sharing your story. Its neat that I get to meet people like you, too bad its cancer that brings us all together. I might try contacting MD Anderson. She went to the medical oncologist today and had a good visit. He has seen good by both surgeons. He is more concerned with the gyn. oncologist that will remove the uterus, overies and lymph nodes. He told my wife that he is very aggressive with his cutting. She said well what organs do I have left and he said you would be surprised. So back to the drawing board. I do know we will figure it out. We do have our first CT scan scheduled post radiation. Talk about a sick feeling. THe oncologist feels that if we can get these two cancer areas cleaned up and have successful surgery than we have a very good prognosis. Fingers crossed and lots of prayers being said. She still will have a 10-30% of reoccurance. Lots of fear with this disease. I'll keep you informed.
Could you send me that docs. email privately I might give it a try.
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As you can read from my post I am a God fearing man. Hours have been spent on bent knees. I do like your prayer it makes sense close those doors and don;t look back. Your words have always helped me thanks.
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I will privately email to you.
Dear Nathan,
I am reply after reading Ann's reply to you, and will be unable to write with such inspiring words as she does (Ann writes so well!). But here's the thing, if you can a colostomy (at any stage they) are not like we used to know them. Some people are able to manage it with a plug that they take off for emptying. You will have heard that they can reconnect the bowel later, but that depends on how much of the bowel is removed. I'm no surgeon so I can't be more precise. I
People will always adapt, and if needs be so can your lovely beautiful wife.
Kim, Ann like this comment
She does have a talent in writing, heck I can't even spell let alone write.
The issue I think is that by the time they have positive margins she will only have 3 or so centimeters of rectum left. Not sure if she will be able to control her BM's with that little of bowel.
She's naturally worried I won't find her attractive and not want to be with her. I understand her worries but one thing about this disease is that I have grown to lover her more as a person and what she is than ever before. She's a heck of a woman.
Nathan, you and your wife certainly have a lot of your plate right now and making such crucial decisions has to be agonizing. I remember the fear that consumed me when I first found out I had anal cancer and how doomed I felt if I had to have a colostomy. I felt like if the cancer didn't take my life that having to have a colostomy would certainly "ruin" my life, at the very least. Luckily for me, chemo/radiation alone has seemed to knock out my cancer, at least so far--and that was almost 9 years ago. All that said, I can certainly understand the fear of having to have that type of surgery. I've been communicating with cancer survivors for nearly 9 years now and I can assure you that none of them who have had to have a colostomy were happy about it. BUT, after an adjustment period, most, if not all, of them have adapted and do just fine. I am on another site and there is one member there whose anal cancer came back after chemo/radiation, so she ended up having APR surgery with colostomy. In between those two events, she was diagnosed with breast cancer! She has gone on to complete her college education, goes to the fitness center to swim several days a week, and cares for her young grandchildren when a sitter is needed. My point in telling you this is that people do go on to live normal, productive and fulfilling lives post-surgery with a colostomy. One of my recommendations, if, after meeting with the new doctor, he feels that a colostomy may be necessary, is to contact a local support group for people who have ostomies or ask the surgeon if he knows of anyone who could speak with you and your wife who has one or is an ostomy nurse. Sometimes having more information and facts can help to allay our fears.

All that said, perhaps that won't even have to happen if the surgeon feels it won't be necessary. As for which doctor to choose, that's a tough decision. However, my gut would have to go with the younger one, who is likely to be more informed about the latest techniques and procedures. I worked for an internist many years ago who was an older doctor and I have to say, he was pretty old school in most cases. I would feel more comfortable with someone who was younger. The problem with "old school" in cases of anal cancer and rectal cancer, is that, as easterly stated, the old way of treating certain cancers was just to go straight for the colostomy. Thank goodness Dr. Nigro (google him!) discovered that patients diagnosed with anal cancer who received chemo/radiation prior to planned surgery for colostomy were often cancer-free after chemo/rad, which meant no need for surgery! Many of us owe our colostomy-free lives to him!

If it were me, I would see the second guy, keep an open mind, ask lots of questions, and go from there. I wish you both all the very best and hope you'll let us know how this all unfolds. Sending lots of prayers your way!
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Thank You.
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Hi Nathan,
I would def see the second surgeon who is the top in your state. Imho, the guy who is best at it is who you want cutting and making decisions. There are a couple of articles written about anal cancer recurring and that standard protocols are colostomy but now there are other thoughts about that. Other options. I think one of the articles was written by doctors from Sloan Kettering Memorial which is an excellent cancer care hospital. I have had 2 friends that had colostomy bags and both were able to get off of them. One was a colon cancer patient and they took so much of their intestines out that they told her she would always have a bag but she found a dr. That was game to try and stretch her remaining intestines out so they could connect to her rectum again. I know you are facing a different situation but the point is don't give up. The second surgeon is most likely giving you the straight analysis of your situation . If it were me and he offered me the choice of getting it now or in a year, I would take the year and keep looking for more answers. But that is just me. God bless you and keep you❤️
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The only message I can offer is that - if at all possible - you need to visit a major cancer center. As far as colostomies go, there are several people here at BFAC who seem to find them a bit of a nuisance - nothing more - amd live full and zesty lives. There is one woman (I wish I could remember her name) who found her colostomy something of a relief after a long period of messy, uncontrollable bowel movements.
You are both in my thoughts and prayers. 💪🏽
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Nathan, yes and no..anal cancer is very close to rectal cancer...but the treatments are not the same...most of us have not had any surgery (recurrence happens but mets go to the lungs and liver) in the immediate aftermath of chemo and radiation.

The recommendations here for serious reflection on the doctors in question and which you really feel comfortable with are on point. My oncologist here in west Texas was not at a top-level research institute but he took the trouble to read up on the latest on anal cancer and discuss it with me as an adult...and he was/is a compassionate and loving person. Compared to the doctor I might have chosen in a major research facility, who was known to me as "The Ice Princess," he was the right choice, and here I am seven years later!!

There are actually colostomy blogs and the posters indeed seem to have a happy life. Even tell jokes!

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Nathan: There is a cancer research place called Huntsman research in Utah,(you can google it) Mr. Huntsman evidently had cancer as a young lad, from what I understand, grew up, became a doctor and went into cancer research.
I do not know what kind of research they do or if they could help you. Might be a worth a phone call for some possible support or information.
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I am very familiar with this place. I have asked several people about this hospital. My current hospital (IHC) actually see more rectal and colon patients than Huntsman and actually has a better track record, I did find this odd but it is what it is.
Mr. Huntsman is one good man. His story is very interesting. As a boy he lost his mother to breast cancer. I read that he held her while she past. It affected him. Later in life he has fought off two types of cancer. He has made billions in the chemically industry. He developed some type of plastic many years ago. He has donated most of his fortune to cancer research.
I have a co-worker who 25 years ago lost his young sister to cancer. She was at a christmas fund raises and was chosen to turn on the lights. With all of the TV cameras there the reporter asked her if she could have a wish what would it be. She said not to have cancer, but after that to go to Disney Land. Mr. Huntsman heard this and after everything was over he walked up to my co-workers family and introduced himself and said I will make your wish come true. He took the entire family on his private jet and paid their way to the park for one week. It has meant a lot to that family. She later died but Mr. Huntsman has said to the family that he is working on her first wish and one day will find a cure.
He's a good man.
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She's unplugged and done with radiation!

This is going to be a mixed post I apologize up front.  My beautiful wife is finally done with round one.  Today was her last radiation visit and they unplugged her from the chemo pump today.  She took treats to her radiation techs and chemo nurses to thank them.  She's looking forward to a shower for the first time in six weeks.  I'm happy that we are making progress and even though my wife is in full blown side effects of the radiation, burns, pooping razor blades, bleeding, fatigue, her free Brazilian etc. she has honestly taking it like a champ and has surprised her doctors at how well she is doing.  I hope that her little 6 cm unwelcomed guess in her rectum is under a lot of pain and suffering right now along with that stupid lymph node that has cancer in it.  They can both go to hell and I'd love to be the one who sends them there.  If makes me feel good to know that they have to be dying with everything that the doctor's have thrown at it. 

I hope not to get to personnel but since my last post we have had mothers days and as I have helped my wife with bathing and dressing the burns and applying cream in not pleasant areas I have to think about you women.  Man you gals go through a lot giving us guys children and being wives and mothers.  To watch her go through this and see her body bear the pain and suffering both with giving birth and fighting cancer I don't think I could do it.  Many of my supporters are women on this blog that have or have had anal cancer.  I take my hat off to you and say thanks for sharing and thanks for fighting for those around you.  You are strong and honestly don't deserve any of this but keep the fight and no doubt you fight stronger and harder than any of us guys could.  I hope that you all found some joy this mothers day.

We met with a new rectal surgeon.  We were not impressed at all.  She only has a few years experience and was a DO not a MD which means she was trained in a more holistic type medicine.  Not for me, as she painted a grime picture.  I know that my wife's cancer is advanced.  I know that technically the node that is infected can be classified as non-regional which should bump her to a stage IVA but come on give a guy some hope.  Yes we have regional involvement, yes we have to wait till after the surgery to really know the stage, yes we have always had a high chance of reoccurrence but its applying those stupid numbers behind the stage that get you down because you associate survival percentages to them.  My poor wife broke down and promised me that she would fight this first go around but if it reoccurs she won;t promise me anything.  Gulp I hate this disease.  I hate almost everything about it.  It has aged me and I am allowing it to get me down.  It's just that the girl that the cancer has decided to invade means everything to me.  She is a fantastic mother to my four children and its a bit of a joke in our house, I'm not known as Mr. Peterson in my community I'm just the guy who is married to Sherry.  I'm fine with this as it shows to me the type of women that she is. 

Back to the update.  In four weeks we go back to the oncologist and rectal surgeon.  In five weeks we get another colonoscopy and a CT some time in between.  Depending on that we schedule surgery 6-8 weeks from now where the tumor will be resected, the lymph node will be removed along with the standard 12 min. around the region, her uterus will be removed along with the ovaries. 

If you're not a spiritual person stop reading now.


I get on my knees nightly and pray for the faith to witness a modern day miracle in my life.  I pray that my wife will have her prayers answered.  I pray that she will be one and done and that five years from now she can become a survivor.  I pray that I will not be a shallow man and if she ends up to be physical shell of what she was from this cancer that I will still be there for her and love her the same if not more than I do now.  I pray that I can have the strength to get through the day.  And last I pray for all of my friends here that they too can witness miracles in their lives.

God Bless and Carry on a good fight.


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3 people threw a punch at your cancer.
3 people sent you a prayer.
5 people sent you a hug.
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Yay for round #1 being over! *punches the air* We send Sherry strength and healing vibes and also positive thoughts for the next round. And to you too, Nathan. We sometimes wonder who this is hardest on - the patient or the caregiver - and have decided both sides experience their own special hell, making them even in the stress game. And while we are not what you would call religious, we have learned over the years that there are definitely more things in heaven and earth than we can dream of, forces at work, miracles in the making. We send you hugs and great hope for the future xx :*)
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YESSS!!!! You two WILL get there!!! And remember there are many ways to love. You will find them all.

The Native AMericans and First Nations and Aboriginal peoples all knew there was a spiritual basis to the universe; what it is exactly, I think is unknown. But we must live in the certainty that we connect to it and are held up by it.

HUGS to her and to you.
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Hi Nathan. I know that it is a relief for both you and your wife to have finished this portion of the journey. I know that you guys have a long road ahead of you but it is okay to celebrate each accomplishment. I think a lot of people do not understand that cancer is something that affects the entire family. It hit me during treatment that the cancer was in my body, but my entire family had cancer. Your wife is very lucky to have you. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a loved one so involved. I will say a prayer for your family.
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What an amazing man you are. Your love for your wife shines through every word you write and if I can see it, there is no doubt that she feels it. When I went through treatment, my eyes were opened to how much my husband adores me. Normally, he is not a vocal man and to be candid, there were times that I didn't feel loved. After the cancer fight that we did together, I know to the depths of my being that I am loved. I am sure that your wife is feeling the same and believe me, it means a lot!!

Yay for the end of radiation, now that skin will have a chance to heal. Once she turns the corner, the healing will be fast. It may take her a few days to get there, but when she does, watch out.

If you aren't comfortable with your doc, get a new one. You need to have complete and utter faith that this is the absolute best care. Don't let the staging/statistics get your down. Sherry is more than a number and no one has an expiration date stamped on the bottom of their foot.

Lots and lots of hugs for you guys.
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This visit was a second opinion and we were not happy with that doctor. We might try one more. It think one idea that the industry needs is like a independent person that one could throw it all out on the table and talk about strategy and about doctors.
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Yeah the other thing is that by profession I'm a licensed structural engineer and currently work as a project manager. Numbers have been my life. I eat and drink numbers and percentages. Also as an engineer I solve problems and as many nights I've laid in bed this isn't a problem I can solve and it upsets me. I know I need to let the numbers go as even if this node is considered distant it's by fact it's only on the other side of the artery and is exterior and not interior. We're talking inches. The node is in the zone of radiation and has a clip in it so it can. E located and removed. I need to stop running the numbers and get back to trusting the professionals like the oncologist and not worry about what if's.
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I'm with you on the numbers thing ... I'm a CPA (no taxes, CFO functions) and trends and statistics are my livelihood. I also am responsible for making sure the company has plans if the worst happens .... YUK when it comes to my health. After treatment was over, I really struggled because none of my docs would use the "cure" word. A couple of times, I had to look in the mirror and admonish the reflection that it was time to trust my docs. Easy to say, hard to do.
Your right easier said than done. I do have to remind myself that she is healthy, she doesn't smoke, drink, over eat, and is young so if anyone can do it she should be the one with the highest odds to beat the odds.
I also have to remind myself that I often over react and until the next CT is done and the surgery is done we don't know anything different other than its contained in the pelvic region and radiation should have destroyed the cancer in the node and at a min shrunk if not killed the primary tumor. As much as I think of the what if's that are bad, but what if she walks way from this totally clean from the cancer. I need to hang my hat on the last one.

Thanks Kathee you always talk me down off of the ledge.
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You are correct. It does seem they do not want to use the "cure" word. Only the "remission" word.
Nathan, I thank you for the update and I am SO happy to hear that your wife has completed treatment. I also thank you for the kind words you expressed about others on this blog who have been through a similar ordeal. You have witnessed first-hand how extremely brutal it is. However, your wife is now on the other side of it and I wish her swift healing from all that this has done to her. And my prayer is that the tumor has cowardly shrunken away, every last cell of it.

To go through this is definitely a test--of will, determination, strength, and faith. I would say that you and your wife have passed the test. Keep the faith and know that I send good thoughts, many prayers and hugs for good news in the coming weeks.

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Nathan... I like the way you write... you capture my heart reading your posts... like two tissues worth on this one...yes...I do cry more easily these days, but your words struck home

some doctors are stupid in that they do not understand how important hope is to your quality of life...even false hope makes your life better.. so if you do not like a doctor, get another if it is possible...

and I agree...I think women are the stronger ones.. I don't think I could have gone through what my wife went through...

You and your wife are amazingly strong, with a well of strength you didn't know you had...even when you feel like the well is running dry, your faith helps to somehow keep you supplied with enough to keep going... and I am of course of the opinion that tears do not mean weakness, they add to your well of strength

you are certainly in my thoughts and prayers
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I don't know what kind of medical facility you are dealing with. If you are not comfortable with this surgeon please google other ones in your state and find one or two you may be comfortable with. Interview the Doctor, ask how many of these surgeries they do in a year, you might have to drive but if you find a medical center associated with a University and find a surgeon that is also a professor or something he/she will be definitely one that would know their stuff in order to teach it. Ask the Doctor all your questions. Write them down so you do not forget.
Thomas likes this comment
We have another one lined up and are looking for one more.
Nancy, Thomas like this comment
continue being proactive, glad you got some lined up and are looking some more. Keep on fighting and go with your gut feeling. Good Luck with your endeavors and journey.
Thomas likes this comment
I was never so relieved to get done with radiation. I cant think of the name of it but when I had radiation they told me to get some of this cream that is made from cow cuds that it is one of the best for radiation skin. I got it at CVS. Have seen it at other stores. it is a cream and comes in a red and white cylinder container about 4 to 6 inches tall. It was a very good cream and I did not get any burns although I am sure several other people do not and several do unfortunately. If I find the name of it will let you know.
I might know what you're talking about. Is it called udder butter cream.
I believe it is called something like that? is that what you use?
Thank you for your beautiful post Nathan and your descriptions of the turmoil you feel as well as the beauty of your love. I have a feeling you are more than the guy married to Sherry, you have a very special heart. I am a caretaker for my husband with pancreatic cancer. We just had the resect last week and Roger was released from the hospital yesterday. There are a few problems we will consult with the surgeon about, but we are going strong and are going with the assumption that we are going to beat this thing. We don't have the pathology report yet, we will get that next week. We are hoping for no lymph node involvement of course. I pray for the same things you pray for, and praying helps. Even if it doesn't help, it helps me. But I do believe it helps. Also, if you don't like the surgeon, you should ask for another one. You do want someone who has done a lot of these. How does your wife feel about her. Being the caretaker, I sometimes have to yield to my husbands wishes. I hope this makes sense, I can only see a little of it while I'm typing. I agree with you, this group has been a huge help for me, I have met some very special people here.
Nathan, Susan J like this comment
We both had the same feeling about the surgeon that we went to on Monday. We won't let her operate on my wife. We are searching for one and have some contacts so we'll get one. She's healing no my worry is that the rectal surgeon needs time to coordinate with gyno surgeon.
Nathan I am so relieved you and Sherry are past this big hurdle. That in itself is a big accomplishment. As you know, the treatment is so very hard and your wife has been a champion. Yet again, my husband I can relate to your post, to your feelings, to your prayers. We read it with tears streaming. I'm glad you are listening to your instincts about finding another surgeon. I hope you find a better fit with more experience. I have had mixed feelings about some of the providers we've seen along the way and I hate the uneasy feelings that you leave with. On the other hand my radiation doctor was encouraging and compassionate. It's sad to me that these types of doctors are harder to find (in my experience). They do have a very difficult job and I try to remember that. I know staying positive and not worrying about the numbers / statistics seems impossible ..I am one of the biggest worriers and I really dislike that about myself...but turning it over to God has been the only thing that is working for me. I hope you can find peace through your beautiful prayers. God Bless you and your family.
Nathan likes this comment
You are such a wonderful husband, and father. I pray for you guys to have a cure, and so you can continue to change this world for the good, with your lovely family!
Take some time and really enjoy. I wish I lived there to help out.
Love and hugs, Jean
Nathan likes this comment
Nathan, what a fantasic caregiver you are! I can't say if tht is the hardest part, but seeing my family suffer when I went through treatment was really awful and heartbreaking. You didn't say that Sherry would be having a colostomy, so I'm guessing she won't. I'm quite sure that she would get that here in the Netherlands. If it comes to that then so be it, you will cope and learn to live with it.
I had one lymph involvement too, and of course it pushed my tumor up to a higher stage. The radiation zapped it and will have zapped hers too. I hated that it was on the move so to speak, and about to spread and cause havoc. Mind you the havoc was caused anyway.
As you are now looking for another surgeon then at least you are doing something to try to fix it, which I think is the way you operate. Doctors are taught now to give all the facts, which means that the message can be very bleak. But the best doctors give the message clothed in kindness and empathy so that you leave the room with hope. Statistics are never about the individual, and you can see that in these posts that eveyone has a different path.
You must be a formidable pair!
Nathan, Kim like this comment
Thanks for sharing. I'm happy to know that the radiation can take a node out.
We have had one rectal surgeon and one gynecological oncologist say they think she has the margin to to have to have a colostomy but for sure a temp one till she heals. With that said we won't know for sure until they are in there.
I'm so sorry that the so-called doctor painted a grim picture. Nobody should deprive you of hope, and I dearly wish I can offer you a little hope with the fact that my husband - statistically - should have been a goner years ago. He had positive nodes and margins following surgery for pancreatic cancer in January, 2010. We were told that treatment would extend his life somewhat, but to get his affairs in order, take time to travel, and enjoy each other. That was seven and one half years ago! Fight, get second and third opinions, make sure she's treated at a major cancer center, and stay positive. You have alot of people here rooting and praying for you. XO 💪🏽
Nathan likes this comment
Thanks for sharing.
Hi Nathan... just didn't want to wait for another post to tell you that you are both in my thoughts and prayers as I read over all these comments. Hope your and your wife's spirits lift a bit as recovery progresses.
Thank you Neal I sure do appreciate the thoughts and prays Thoughts and prayers are the food for the soul to help get through this trial. She is doing better today.
the name of that cream is "Udderly Smooth" a very good cream for radiation after effects.
I was close. I'll see if I can find some. are a true hero for your wife, helping her in any unpleasant task that arises! Prayers to you & your wife!!!
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Vital Info


March 11, 2017

Utah, USA

September 28, 1971

Loved One is a Cancer Survivor/Fighter

Cancer Info

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Mildly Advasive Ademocarcinoma

March 3

Stage 3B

4.1 - 5.0 cm


Fluorouracil (5-FU)

That I'm so helpless.

Just be there and give a shoulder and a helping hand.

We looked at N1048. Its very hopeful for early stage three colorectal cancer as it is looking to fight the disease with just chemo. We did not qualify as a iliac lymph node has been tested and has cancer in it.

Help us out with the kids so they can have a break and be normal.

McKay Dee Hospital

Change is bowel habits, constipation, mucous and blood in stool, hair loss and anemia. Was told it was hemorrhoids for two years after complaining they found celiac disease and said that is your problem.



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