In January 2005, I started nursing school, a lifelong ambition that had waited on the back burner for twenty years. March 2005 found me happily studying and participating in clinicals at the hospital, when we began to examine the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer.

The list was short, but frighteningly familiar. Ten years before, I had been diagnosed with internal hemorrhoids, and I had chalked up the recurring bright red bleeding as nothing to be concerned about - I was stressed from exams, not eating correctly, and a dozen other excuses. But the more recent developments, such as changes in my normal bowel habits, were more disturbing, and as I read the list, undeniable. I made an appointment to see my nurse practitioner, who did a digital exam and immediately recommended a colonoscopy. Over spring break, I had the procedure, and received the diagnosis with numb disbelief. I was only 39, with no family history, no risk factors.

I did six weeks of continuous 5FU in a fanny pack, with simultaneous radiation treatments 5 days a week. Then, with high hopes that the tumor had shrunk enough to remove without destroying the muscles and tissue needed to preserve continent bowel function, I had surgery on July 1, 2005.

Unfortunately, my surgeon was not able to leave enough tissue to reconnect, and I now have a permanent colostomy. However, that hasn't changed my life at all, as I still do everything I did before. I went back to school six months after my surgery, a month after my last post-surgery bolus chemo treatment, and I received my nursing degree in May 2007.


The best news is that my pathology was clear, and has remained clear in blood tests and CT scans so far for five years...six this March. I was given the boot by my oncologist last June and only have to have colonoscopies every five to ten years !

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Comment by Jeannie Moore on January 5, 2012 at 6:28pm

HOORAY Lisa!  6 years!  Thank you for being a buddy!

If you can, can you think about some ostomy tips/hints that have helped you?  We're making a guide and first-hand information from patients is priceless!

We're shooting for mid-to end January - no pressure!

thanks,

jeannie

Comment by Lisa Millham on April 26, 2008 at 11:09am
Bill, our stories ARE very similar! Good luck in nursing school. I took six months off during treatment but was able to jump back into it very quickly (despite the fact that every time I leaned over a patient in clinicals, my hair would fall out. I took to wearing a hair net, like a lunch lady).
Comment by Lisa Millham on April 26, 2008 at 11:01am
I have already informed my doctor that I will be handling my own bowel prep :-)! Bill, I'd planned on doing exactly as you say - start a liquid diet early, but using magnesium citrate instead of golytely. We'll see how it works!
Comment by Bill on April 26, 2008 at 1:28am
Hi Risu,
Our stories are actually similar. I am currently a nursing student and am 39 years old. I will graduate this August. Last October, I started noticing a lot of warning signs that something was wrong with my digestive tract. My doctor agreed to schedule me for a colonoscopy. In January, I was informed that the 2.5cm polyp that they had removed was 3/4th cancerous. I was also told that my colon had thousands of polyps so I was scheduled for a second colonoscopy where they sampled polyps from different areas of my colon. Today I was told that three of those of polyps are pre-cancerous and I probably have a condition known as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). Because of the very large number of polyps present the only way to make sure that none are cancerous is to remove my large colon.
My own experience with golytely while not pleasant went smoother than others that I have talked to. My dad recommended that 24 hours prior to beginning the treatment to start a liquid diet so that I did not have as much stuff in my system to clear. While the fast was not the funnest experience my digestive tract flushed out fairly quickly. It is a trade off. You will be hungry longer but the nasty golytely part will be over quicker.
Comment by Jennifer Weir on April 21, 2008 at 11:59am
Hi Risu,

Golylely is my nemesis too. Did you know you can take pills instead and drink water and it works just as well. So glad you found it early!

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