Surviving Colon Cancer



History: My mother had been feeling sick for a couple of months. She went to the doctor more than a few times but nothing was ever found. At the age of 71, she has various health problems that cause her to take different medications that can cause symptoms of not feeling well. For instance, she has osteoporosis and COPD. She also has a degenerative disc in her spine that causes her pain and a benign tumor in her neck area that is small and is monitored for changes. She has taken medications for these conditions and uses an inhaler too; she was an avid smoker in her youth but quit several years ago. She is not overweight and lives a very healthy lifestyle, walking regularly and eating healthy.

Events Leading to Diagnosis: Two days before she was diagnosed with colon cancer, my mother went to the doctor stating that she felt poorly. The doctor asked her to get a stool sample and bring it in to her next appointment 5 days later. Two days before her appointment, she woke up feeling disoriented and terrible. She told my stepfather that something was very wrong and that she needed to go to the hospital.

There she would learn that her bloodcount was an 8 and that she had blood in her stool. She was admitted immediately. She was given a blood transfusion and scheduled for a colonscopy and endoscomy. The colonoscopy revealed that she had two polyps and a 2-inch tumor that was bleeding. A couple of days later, tests confirmed what the doctor had suggested; her tumor was cancerous. She was scheduled for surgery two days later to have the polyps and tumor removed after one more blood transfusion. Surgery would tell what stage she was experiencing and what treatment would follow.

Surgery: The surgery took 5 hours, 2 hours longer than expected. The surgeon said that up to 3 feet of her colon was removed along with the polyps and lymph nodes. He said the length of the colon removed was less than half of her entire colon. The extra time was due to her colon being tangled in scar tissue from a previous gall bladder surgery. He said that the cancer had not spread to surrounding organs or tissue outside of the colon. They would not know if the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes until further tests were performed. Only then would they be able to tell us what stage she was in and if chemotherapy would be prescribed.

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