It’s been an interesting one! As I wrote about in Experiences: Cancer, my summer started with a rude awakening. On June 19, after a colonoscopy and a CT scan, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Likely due to my inherited Lynch Syndrome, this cancer was aggressive, and, although I was walking up and down steep hills fewer than two weeks before, by my surgery on June 30 the tumour had made making even one step extremely painful.
The surgery was a success and the tumour, as well as almost my entire large intestine was removed – that doesn’t mean this was the end of it – chemotherapy awaits. The first nine days of July were hot, sunny, and dry, with hardly any rain. Not that it made much difference for me though! I didn’t get a chance to enjoy that spate of weather, but I was hopeful that maybe, however unlikely, that weather would return, and I’d get a chance to enjoy it since the doctors and I didn’t think I’d be in hospital for much more than a week.
I was out of hospital on July 9 and staying with my mother who has been incredible the whole way through. She’s also unfortunately familiar with my situation – A New Situation. I was happy to see the sun still out and the temperature still up. That was short lived. By the night of July 10 I was having some pain and discomfort in my abdomen, not to mention shortness of breath. I slept maybe an hour or two that night, maybe more but who knows, and spent most of the time trying to figure out a way to lie in bed that would allow my breathing to return to normal. Apparently a fool’s errand. Although tired, still with abdominal pain and short of breath, morning came as a huge relief. When the home-care nurse came to remove the staples in my abdomen from my surgery, she also assessed how I was doing and told me that due to the pain and shortness of breath, I should go to emergency – something I was certainly not keen on. After questions, tests, and scans, I was told that I had a perforated bowel (my small intestine, since that was basically all that remained of my bowel) and I would need emergency surgery.
Another successful surgery. However, it still meant three nights in ICU as part of my two week stay in hospital. There goes July – up to the 25th at least. I was in a rough way following my second major invasive surgery in under two weeks. In between, and including, visits from my sister, mother, friends, doctors, and nurses, I was in bed, getting up for walks, albeit short walks, down the hall, leaning heavily on my walker. These walks, however short, were awkward, exhausting, and necessary. It was, and still is, tough to know if walking is so tiring due to the wounds from surgery, and/or due to my brain injury. The simple answer, both, is probably the correct one.
I have been out of hospital for six weeks. Thanks to my mother, sister (who was home for almost all of July, and some of August, being there for my mother and me!), and friends, I have kept up the walking. I haven’t used the walker for about four weeks, and I’m now doing 30 minute walks everyday with friends, my mother, and sister when she’s home, who join me and help me stay eager to go out, even when I’m feeling lethargic. Thanks also to my oncologist who told me that he wanted me to walk 20 minutes a day once I start chemo.
I want to start chemo, so I was disappointed to learn that the wound from my surgery is not yet healed enough to start on September 6 as originally planned, but has been pushed back two weeks. Whatever disappointment I felt has been easily overwhelmed by the happiness and anticipation of very close friends visiting (and one who has already visited).
Next week I will write about how my attitude toward my cancer has likely been shaped by my experience with brain injury, rehabilitation, and adjustment to life after a trauma. This is another topic I want to talk about – Speaking.