I am about halfway through treatment for rectal cancer. I went in today to have an IV port inserted to help with chemotherapy injections. If you’d like to know more about how these ports work, there is a nice blog, written by a cancer patient, here. The insertion was painless and only took a couple hours 🙂 I can’t say that I am looking forward to chemo, but my oncologist tells me that most people tolerate my regimen fairly well. I will have 8 rounds of treatment with two weeks between rounds, so I will finish chemo sometime in April if all goes as planned. The infusions will be done in Grinnell and will take about two hours per treatment. I talked to the surgeon that did my colonoscopy and the port insertion. He says that the bowel resection I had done in November is the worst part of the treatment for this cancer. woo-hoo! After chemotherapy is completed, we will allow some time for my body to heal, then put my intestines back together and remove the port. The pain from the resection is starting to improve, and I have a prescription for Vicodin for the pain from the port insertion, which I barely feel anyway.
I am sick of the rectal cancer. I know that this will be a life changing event for me and I am curious about the person I will become. I have a feeling that chasing my dreams in life will mean more and financial security will mean much less than it does now. After all, what good is financial security if you are not living a life that reflects who you are and who you want to be?
The way I see people is also changing. I am an introvert and a “transplant” to this small town in the Midwest. Before I was diagnosed, I struggled with depression and fatigue. Although this frequently kept me in bed resting instead of church on Sunday mornings, my church family has faithfully supported me and prayed for me throughout this ordeal. Although I rarely see the best of people in my job as a claims adjuster (because I talk to them when they are stressed and out of sorts) my coworkers have humbled me with all the help that they have offered. Of course, my friends and family have also been great–but I always knew they were wonderful.
I view medical care differently too. I plan to take more responsibility for my own health and rely less on medical care providers for referrals to screenings I may need. Nobody has more at stake in maintaining my health than I do, and I plan to step up and take care of it! I encourage you to do the same. Find out what screenings are appropriate for your age, gender and health status and get them. While a colonoscopy is not anyone’s idea of a fun time, an early diagnosis with effective treatment of pre-cancerous polyps is a much better alternative than waiting and going through treatment for advanced rectal cancer.
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