Category: Surgery

Different Direction – Colon Cancer

Different Direction – Colon Cancer

I’d originally intended this blog to be about learning data science and database systems. But things have changed since I started that path.

In August 2015, I started a new job with a federal agency as an IT specialist on the local help desk. After years of unemployment and underemployment, financial and emotional struggles, I finally had a job that was letting me live comfortably, pay my bills and start adding in some little luxuries.

But I was having some problems. I’m going to have to get a bit explicit here, to describe my symptoms. I was having intestinal pain. I’d experienced pain like this before, but only occasionally, and usually if I wasn’t consuming enough fiber. There was also blood in my stool.

And the symptoms didn’t go away.

I tried to be better about taking both a fiber supplement and Greek yogurt (for the probiotics). There was no change in the symptoms.

So, in November, I sent an email to my primary care doctor (the VA has secure messaging available so you can do that! It makes communicating so much easier than calling, leaving messages and hoping they contact you back). She asked a few questions and gave me a referral to a GI doc. Both she and the GI doc were thinking IBD – Inflammatory Bowel Disease. When I saw the GI doc in December, she suggested that I get a colonoscopy to rule out other things, just in case.

The colonoscopy was in January. By now, the pain was getting a bit worse. I was in the bathroom a dozen times a day, but I may only go a little bit or even not at all.

When they woke me up from the procedure, they pulled me into an office to tell me that they found something they didn’t expect. A 4 cm lesion that was highly suspicious for cancer in the sigmoid section of my large intestine. Biopsy confirmed an adenocarcinoma.

On February 11th, I had surgery to remove most of the sigmoid area (sigmoid colectomy or sigmoidectomy).

Recovery has been a little slower than I thought it would be. I’ve had a couple of abdominal surgeries before and bounced back faster. I’m 4 1/2 weeks post surgery and still very tender and moving a bit more slowly than I’d like.

This is a cancer that is much more common in people older than I am. I’ve seen age 69 as median age of diagnosis and 72 as a mean. I’m 46. Both the GI doc and the surgeon were convinced the surgery would be all that was needed. But they tested 15 lymph nodes and found cancer in 2.

So I need chemo.

Freaking out about that a little bit.