Under normal circumstances, the message that “the doctor will call you“, would bring a sense of relief. This time was anything but normal and I felt anxious. The pathology report had come back two weeks after my colon cancer surgery and my surgeon promised she would call with the findings.
Six weeks ago, a colonoscopy detected that I had colon cancer. Within two days, my doctor at Cleveland Clinic, who specializes in complex laparoscopic and robotic colorectal surgery, scheduled three CT scans to see if there were any signs of the cancer spreading to other parts of my body. I was lucky that the scans showed that the tumor was limited to the colon. However, it would not be known if the tumor had grown through the wall of the colon until it was removed and could be examined by pathologists. My doctor scheduled surgery a month from when I had my colonoscopy.
Cleveland Clinic, as well as hospitals around the world, have a program called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery or ERAS. The thinking behind this program is the healthier you are going into surgery, the quicker and easier your recovery will be. It consists of a few easy steps to follow in the weeks before elective surgery that can reduce the risk of complications and may even speed recovery. It includes doing what you can to improve you activity levels, maintain health and a healthy body weight before surgery that may help you recover and return to daily activities quicker after the surgery. I was told to walk, do easy exercises and eat healthy until surgery,
Two weeks ago, I had a right hemicolectomy, where a portion of my colon was removed laparoscopically. I went into surgery at noon and was in my room at 5 p.m. Later in the evening, I was sitting in a chair having chicken broth and the next day was walking in the halls. I spent two nights in the hospital and on the third day, after a chicken salad sandwich and tomato soup, my surgeon told me that I was doing well enough to go home. I was never in enough pain to warrant opioids, which are discouraged, and once home, took Tylenol only when needed. Each day that passes, I’ve felt better and stronger.
My surgeon promised that she would call once the pathology report was completed and presented at Cleveland Clinic’s weekly tumor board meeting where colorectal cancer cases are reviewed. For the past two weeks, I’ve tried not to worry about the outcome of the report but felt anxious when the doctor’s office manager called to let me know that the report was in and the doctor would be calling.
When the phone call came, I took a deep breath, answered and put the phone on speaker so that my husband and I could learn the results from the pathology analysis. I could tell from my doctor’s voice that she had good news and it was. We were relieved to learn that the tumor was Stage 1 cancer and that I would not require any treatments and that Stage I cancers have the lowest risk of cancer recurrence. We will meet for a follow up visit on Monday so that she can answer any questions and set a date for another colonoscopy a year from now. She is also going to arrange for an oncologist who will become part of my health team going forward. During this whole process, it would have been easy to feel hopeless but I had a wonderful team of professionals that made sure I remained positive and received the best care possible.
I’m lucky to have my wonderful husband who has constantly been by my side, caring for me and has kept me focused on my ability to cope with the challenges that have come my way this year. I have family and friends who have been at the ready to help the two of us any way they can. Along with them, I am also lucky to have blogging friends and readers who have touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes with their comments, good wishes and prayers for my recovery.
I’m blessed and thank each and every person who has given me so much encouragement and support, thank you.