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nicki535

88 year old Mother diagnosed with bowel cancer 4 months ago

Hello everyone
I am looking for some advice please. My 88 year old pretty fit mum was diagnosed with colon cancer about 4 months ago. This is the second time she has had it. Previous time 14 years ago.
She went through all the pre op tests and was told she was very high risk of not either surviving the op after 30days or worse still being not able to look after herself and maybe in a care home.
She wasn’t sure about taking the risk but obviously it’s likely to spread and not have a good outcome. So after a few months of thinking about it has decided to have the operation and take her chances. My question is is she is having very bad spells of diarrhoea and looseness. Occasionally she will go two days without going to the toilet but then all of a sudden she doesn’t realise she is going and it’s really bad or she is on the toilet several times a day. Her consultant seemed surprised at this and said well eat a little more fibre as she is on a low fibre diet. She can’t seem to find a happy medium. Last night she was up most of the night on the toilet after eating a bar of chocolate !
Does anyone have any ideas on how to stop this toilet problem she is having. It’s very draining for her. She is also under a lot of stress at the moment a she was looking after Dad at home with dementia and carers coming in but needed a break so we sent Dad to a respite home and that’s not helped him or anyone as he has got depressed and gone downhill and we have been told he is near end of life so mum is upset and stressed with this as well. But my main question is what should she be eating or can help her to stop this constant looseness. She doesn’t want to take Imodium as the transverse tumour is covering 75% of the width of the tube and doesn’t want to get too constipated either !

stoy

Thank you so much. Your situation is almost identical. Thank you for filling me in. :x:

Claire68

Hi Nicki535, how is your Mum now please? My 80 year old Father is due to have a very similar operation (Extended Right Hemicolectomy) and we are concerned that the frequesncy of bowel movements after the operation is not short lived and will remain for ever, as they are going to attach his small bowel to the other end of his colon (removing most of his colon/bowel) and this will affect his quality of life. How much of the bowel did your Mum have removed and has her bowel movements returned to some kind of normal please?

nicki535

Hi Claire, Mum had the exact same operation. She is 4.5 weeks post op now, same amount of bowel removed. Mum remained in hospital for exactly two weeks. She had very little bowel control whilst in hospital plus she was connected to a catheter for about 8 days. Started off about 5 times a day. It was worse as she was on a los fibre diet. She came to stay with me and apart from a couple of nights at home whilst my sister looked after her she had been with me. We were told it was important to stick to a low fibre diet to aid the healing process so we pretty much did that. Though it makes them looser and more frequent bowel movements. After 2-3 weeks my Mum is going to the toilet about 1-2 times a day which is not too bad. Seems to be 1.30am she has to get up and go then occasionally mid morning. Some days if she has eaten something that hasn’t suited her she has back to 3-4 times daily and it’s very loose. It has not hardened up at all. However I phoned the colorectal nurses yesterday to get some advice and they said that was perfectly normal at this stage and still early days and it should settle down.
So they have suggested now that she increases her fibre to add more root veg and Wholemeal bread and see if it thickens up. We were told by the consultant she would never been constipated and would be more on the loose side of things. The thing is that isn’t too bad if you can control it and get to the toilet in time with plenty of warning. My a mum is 88 and she can walk well but a couple of times there have been accidents as you can imagine a watery stool will be less controllable.
She is still glad she had it done as the cancer has gone which is the main thing and she didn’t end up with a stoma bag which was her fear. I’m hoping over time it’s easier for her. Trial and error with food etc some foods whip through the body quicker. She is mainly eating yoghurts, plain biscuits, chicken , fish lightly battered or grilled, chips seem okay and mashed potato and carrots. Hope this helps. :x:

Claire68

Thank you for taking the time to answer, this information is invaluable to us. We thought that going 5-7 times a day was forever, so wondered if a bag would give him a better quality of life, being able to go out and about without being caught short. But as we now know it is only temp, we are more comfortable with him being joined back up.
His operation is 4th April so if you have any other advice we would be grateful. All the best for your Mum's ongoing recovery. :x::x:

nicki535

Hi Stoy how are things ? Has your Mum made her decision. My Mum is doing well now. It’s 6 weeks this Wednesday. She has gone home now but either myself or my sister visiting her most days to do things like hoovering, putting out the rubbish etc. she is eating fairly normally now but with some precaution. Mushrooms we have discovered are a definite no. Still gets a few niggles from the operation site. We have even managed a couple of lunches out in the last two weeks and Mum is regaining a lot of strength now :x:

Lirio345

Hi @nicki535, good to hear how well your mum is doing 🙂.

Just to give you the heads up it is good to tag people to catch their attention by typing an @ in-front of of their username (which is case sensitive), like I have yours. That way @stoy will know you made contact above. I hope that helps. Take very good care, Kim :x::x:

stoy
Quote from @nicki535:
Hi Stoy how are things ? Has your Mum made her decision. My Mum is doing well now. It’s 6 weeks this Wednesday. She has gone home now but either myself or my sister visiting her most days to do things like hoovering, putting out the rubbish etc. she is eating fairly normally now but with some precaution. Mushrooms we have discovered are a definite no. Still gets a few niggles from the operation site. We have even managed a couple of lunches out in the last two weeks and Mum is regaining a lot of strength now

@nicki535
I hope I've replied properly....its taken me a while to work this out! Thank you for enquiring after my mum and filling me in on yours. She has agreed to op which is in mid March , but very jittery and nervous. So am I. I'm currently working to get respite for dad for 2 weeks. Please keep me updated. Sounds like you're still pleased that she had op. I'm worried that I'm up to the aftercare.

nicki535

Well I’m really pleased Stoy she has decided to have the operation. My Mum was extremely nervous and looked like a frightened rabbit in headlights when I left her on the day of her surgery. Because of the covid situation I wasn’t able to go beyond the check in part so just had to leave her looking very confused. She was first on the list which was great and she spent 36 hours in recovery after the operation which was a great help as they were constantly checking her. My mum was in hospital 13 days and seriously although your Mum may want to go home earlier if fit think 2 weeks was good for mum, any earlier and would have been harder looking after her. The last few days before she left she was walking herself to the bathroom and walking around the corridor and wards. She did a stair test which she passed as she has stairs at home and so do I. Anyway today is exactly 6 weeks and although she isn’t quite as strong as before the op she can do most things. She is up and down stairs easily, she has been out with me for lunch and coffee and doing light duties at home such as dusting, filling and emptying dishwasher and cooking a little. Legally she can drive from today but she is waiting another couple of weeks. No pain from the wound area now and she can bend which she does occasionally. Bowels are so much better she is down to once a day now and it’s coming out normally not like it was for the first 4-5 weeks. Good luck with your Mum. Fingers crossed she is as good as my mum after :x:

stoy

@nicki535 Thank you for update.That is reassuring. I will bear in mind that a longer stay will be beneficial. Can you give me advice please re food to get in for the early days. Im so glad things are working well for you and your mum. This forum has been wonderful.

nicki535

@stoy
Well I literally made sure mum had a fairly bland diet for at least two weeks after she came out. So she ate things like cornflakes with milk for breakfast. Lunch would have been egg on toast, scrambled or poached. Omelettes were fine but I made them with herbs and a little mild cheese. Sometimes a potato waffle with a poached egg on top was good. In between she would eat rich tea biscuits. Dinner was generally chicken or fish. Kept her off beef and lamb in case it was indigestible.
She had fish with parsley sauce and mash. Sometimes oven chips they were fine and those Gastro fish fillets. She was fine with scampi. Chicken I used for a roast dinner she managed a Yorkshire pudding and again mashed potato and carrots. But avoided peas. Sometimes I did chicken in breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. She was fine with white rice too. But kept her off acidy tomato sauces. I made root veg soup that was good and creme caramel and yogurts were fine.
She had a bad reaction to mushrooms which she loved before her operation So essentially I avoided red meats, tomato based things, veg such as cauliflower, sprouts and peas and baked beans for obvious reasons. Also didn’t really fry any foods. Oh she did nibble on cheese quavers. They were really good. After two weeks I slowly introduced other things. Sausages without skins and this week she had a small fillet steak with chips and salad. Hope this helps. She did drink quite a bit of water and we changed her to decaf tea and coffee. She is now back on normal coffee and tea and has had the odd G&T !!

stoy

@nicki535, thank you. That is most helpful, and reassuring. Any more tips for comfort at home would be great. I'm having sleepless nights trying to arrange things for mum whilst organising respite for dad. I'm so grateful for your input. Thank you

stoy

@nicki535 hello, update that mum had her op on Monday. She's expecting to be discharged after the weekend. Glad it's over, still in pain, not moved bowels yet and eating very little, but feeling stronger each day. I'll be relieved when she moves her bowels and starts to eat more. Dad in respite for another week and I'll stay with her for a few nights when she gets home. How's your mum doing?

stoy

@nicki535 how is your mum doing?

nicki535

Hi @stoy
Sorry not been on here for a while. We managed a 2 week break to Spain as Mum was doing really well. So glad your mum had her operation and it was successful. How is she doing now ? Did they manage to do it without the Stoma bag ? My mum is doing really well. Pretty much eating normally now and putting on some weight which is great as she went down to 8.5 stone before her op and in the early days. She is up to 9 stone 2 pounds now.
Your Dad must be out of respite now. His long was your Mum in hospital for ?
Nicki

nicki535

Hi @stoy is your mum okay ? :x:

stoy

Hello, yes, thank you. My mum is doing well. My 91 year old dad has been needing more of my attention lately so sorry I've not been on here much. Trying to tackle one thing at a time!
Mum recovered quickly and seems back to her usual self. Bowels moving well and eating normally. How is your mum doing?

stoy

Mum was in hospital 1 week. Her op was on a Monday and they would have discharged her on the Friday but I asked for her to stay in over the weekend which we were both happier with. She didn't need a stoma and it was done robotically. 1 lymph node had cancer but advised no further treatment on account of her age..

nicki535

Hi @stoy I’m so glad your mum’s operation went well. Sounds like she is recovering really well and quickly. Did they remove the lymph nodes as well ? Sorry your Dad is needing more help but at 91 it’s difficult. Difficult for all of you and for your Mum as she recovers. My Mum is fine been eating normally. Had a check up last week and all was good. They did a blood test to check it’s all gone and everything came back clear. So she can put it all behind her now. Nice to hear from you. Take care Nicki :x:

stoy

@nicki535 That's great news re blood test. Mum just went for 2 with post op check and not to see again until October which seems a long time. I would've liked a check before that. I cant remember how many lymph nodes they took, maybe 15 I think and found cancer in 1 of them. I don't know if that means its likely there's cancer in more of them that are left but they decided not to offer chemo due to her age. Mum was relieved wirh that.
She's eating and pooing well but still only 8 stone ( averaged 10stone 5 or 6 years ago) and still gets tired but that may be due to caring role.

Overall she's doing well and considering I didn't think she would see her next birthday next week, I'm relieved.
You have been a great support as had everyone on this forum . :x::x:

nicki535

@stoy
Exactly the same scenario with My mum. My mum used to be about 10.5 stone and went down to 8 stone 8 before her op. It stayed pretty low but now she is up to 9 stone 3. She still gets tired but not as bad as before as she was very anaemic. But then she had my Dad to look after. Carers coming in at 7.30am and Mum having to get up at 7am to let them in etc. mum had two lymph glands removed as part of her operation as there was some activity in them so a precaution really. Again no Chemo due to age. Huge relief all round. Think they were one of the lucky ones that it was treatable and no further treatment required. Enjoy the summer and all take care :x::x: