My husband was diagnosed with a stage 3 bowel tumour on 1st March 2016. Bolt out of the blue after being completely healthy all his life!
The past 6 weeks have been horrendous as we came to terms with the diagnosis and he underwent, seemingly endless, tests. Each new test seemed to throw up something new to worry about and the proposed treatment changed from appointment to appointment.
A very worrying and unsettling time, particularly as we live in Cyprus, away from our families. However, the health care team have been amazing.
He was given a temporary, loop colostomy from which he recovered extremely well and he is dealing with it amazingly. We now face chemotherapy to shrink his inoperable, 12cm tumour. This will be followed by bowel resection surgery. Possibly more chemotherapy to follow, we don't know yet.
Then finally, colostomy reversal, once everything has settled down.
Well, that's the plan at this moment in time ....
I can't tell you. Cancer. Colostomy. Chemotherapy. Three of Lord GT's greatest fears, all delivered in one blow.
However, there is no spread so we continue to believe that the eventual outcome will be positive, although we know we face a tough year.
Although I haven't posted much to date, I have browsed this forum regularly and find it a huge source of information and comfort.
August 2016 - 4 cycles of Xelox resulted in a 'mild reduction' in the diameter of His Lordship's tumour, proving that the chemo works. Now starting 28 sessions of chemo-radiotherapy with Capecitabine tablets.
October 2016 - chemo-radiotherapy finished without too many dramas. Very Groundhog Day! Now waiting for scan, which will be in late October.
November 2016 - chemo-radiotherapy has worked! His Lordship's tumour has now become operable. Surgery set for 22nd November.
Surgery took 8 hours instead of the expected 4 because there was massive spread throughout the whole pelvis, which wasn't quite expected. The surgeon performed a second, protective colostomy - don't get me started - but if our very capable, experienced doctor thinks it's necessary for now, we'll run with it.
Histology shows that there are clear margins (thank God), but only of 1mm.
Follow up chemotherapy is to be expected in the near future.
January 2017 - four cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy commenced. Xelox (Oxaliplatin and Capecitabine tablets). A 30% reduction in dose, compared to the original regime, has resulted in VERY few side effects. We are cautiously optimistic and trying to get on with things as normally as possible.
February 2017 - exactly half way the chemotherapy regime, Lord GT develops DVT in his left leg. Very scary and traumatic with an emergency dash to A&E. Now on Heparin injections, twice daily, which I have to administer. He is also sporting thigh-length support stockings which take two of us to wrestle him in and out of. Really could have done without this but onwards we go!
February 2017 - chemotherapy regime stopped due to DVT. Scan to follow, then a new plan will be formed. Really? I mean, REALLY?
March 2017 - DVT improving, treatment is ongoing. Scan shows that abdomen and pelvis look so good, it has been decided to ditch the rest of chemo. The risk of provoking another DVT outweighs any benefit.
HOWEVER, scan also shows 'new nodules' on the lung. Need to wait three months then do another scan, to see what's happening. Now you really ARE taking the p*ss!
June 2017 - following a completely clear scan, Lord GT has been signed off from oncology! Follow up in three months' time. And breathe ....
Now to get the colostomies reversed!
July 2017 - our surgeon is reluctant to reverse His Lordship's colostomies just yet because there is a 'high possibility' that the cancer might return soon and he wants the stomas in place in case he has to 'go in again'.
Now waiting until November. If there is another clear scan, colostomy reversals can begin to take place. Just in time to interrupt Christmas. Bah, humbug!
August 2017 - another DVT causes pulmonary thrombosis. Under control with extra Clexane injections.
November 2017 - almost exactly a year after surgery (and 20 months since diagnosis) recent scans show His Lordship to be cancer free. Hoo-bloody-ray!!!
Bring on the first of the colostomy reversals!
December 2017 - unfortunately, our surgeon was unable to reconnect Lord GT's bowel due to internal radiotherapy damage. So the problematic loop colostomy was reversed and His Lordship now has a permanent colostomy.
This isn't how we envisaged the end game but he's here and he's alive.
Now on to three-monthly checks with fingers crossed that there's no recurrence.
July 2018 - scans show that His Lordship is still NED.
January 2019 - another scan and still NED. So chuffed.
April 2019 - Two polyps removed during colonoscopy but otherwise all clear.
February 2020 - Moved back to the UK from Cyprus last year, to be nearer to family. Lord GT's latest scan shows still NED. Couldn't be more chuffed!