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Posts Tagged ‘colon cancer’


This might be an unpopular topic for some of us but it is always good to take necessary precautions when it comes to our body and our health. Just because one feels healthy doesn’t mean you  have to ignore something which has bothered you for quite a while.

I don’t mean to scare you but have you ever observed how hard it is sometimes to poop? Yes, we have those times in our lives. Pooping blood?  They could be hemorrhoids  right?  Another common cause of bright red  blood in your  stool could be an anal fissure, a tear that can be caused by anything from constipation to childbirth. They disappear after a while though. And you think that’s normal.

Before I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer almost ten years ago, having  fresh red blood in my stool was nothing to be concerned about.  I thought at first it was because of hemorrhoids.  I didn’t feel anything – no cramps, no pain, no stomach ache so to speak. I remember now what my other  oncologist told me before, that cancer in any part of your body would take ten years before you feel uncomfortable.  It was such that I was alarmed when bright red blood appeared  almost every day so I had a check-up with a gastroenterologist and he scheduled me for colonoscopy. It was not a painful procedure and I was able to see the lining of my stomach/colon while they were at it. But the preparation was just too much. Aside from the endoscopy which I went thru before during a hospitalization, it was so uncomfortable. You have to have your colon and stomach clean before you have to undergo colonoscopy. My OB-Gyn suggested a surgical oncologist, the best in the field to evaluate my case. True enough, I need to have a sigmoid surgery based on the results of my colonoscopy.

After the operation, I waited two months for my wound to heal before they started me on chemotherapy, both oral and thru IV.  Aside from being so expensive, it saps you of your strength.  You are bedridden for almost three days after each procedure then another round in three weeks. That was my life for almost a year.

Going back to the topic at hand, if you ever notice fresh blood in your stool, don’t ignore it. I’d like to say prevention is better than cure.

 

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I received this wonderful message from a close friend who is also a cancer survivor like I am. It’s a one-line prayer that says:

Dear God,  I pray for a cure for cancer.  Amen 


Don’t we all wish  and pray that they would finally find a cure for cancer? And yes, I guess it’s a prayer that would change the world
.  If cancer is like your common cough and colds, you wouldn’t  really mind so much  because you are assured that in a few days, a week at most, you would be back to your normal self.  And your family would not be burdened with worry whether you will get well or not and they would not need to scratch their heads every time you are scheduled for that much-needed chemotherapy  because shelling out a hundred thousand pesos for every session of chemo is not a walk in the park.  And your hubby, whom you thought would best understand would not say, “naubos ang ipon natin dahil sa pagpapagamot mo.”  And those words hurt more than having that life-changing disease  because in his eyes the money you’ve saved is more important than you getting well.   And I have always said that you can’t really emphatize with a person all that much unless you have experienced the same thing yourself.  The anguish of knowing that you are not hundred percent fit and you know that you are living on borrowed time,  the feeling is all the more acute because at some point, you would ask,  am I on the complete road to recovery?  Pardon the sentimentality attached to this blog because right this moment, everything is so vivid in my memory – the surgery, the long stay at the hospital, the endless visits to the doctors, the heart palpitations every time you get the lab results, the feeling of being so helpless while  on chemotherapy, the endless prayers and knocks on every friend close to you to include you in their prayers as well, the times that you really tried to show you were brave and strong  in front of your kids, and  the uncertainty of knowing when you’ll get well.

And here’s another picture attached to the message:

All  you are asked to do is keep this circulating,  even if it’s
Only to one more person.  In memory of anyone you know
Who has been  struck down by cancer or is still living with  it.

A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting  Another Candle..

So instead of forwarding it to my list of contacts, I chose to share this in a blog,there is a wider reach that way. In the past, I often wondered why breast cancer awareness campaigns always use  pink ribbon as a symbol. Why not other colors like yellow or blue or any other color for that matter?

Imagine, it took me three long years to learn this, that the symbol for colon cancer is blue.  If I were to choose, the last ribbon (All Cancers) would be appropriate.

Would it be okay if you say a prayer for us, cancer survivors, cancer patients and those who are presently undergoing treatments right now? Thank you so much.

Dear God,  I pray for a cure for cancer.  Amen 


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Not long ago, I received this message from some Facebook friends and it says:

Put a heart (♥) on your wall without comment, only a heart. Then send this message to all your friends – only the women. Next, place a heart on the wall of the person who sent this message to you. And if someone asks you why you have so many hearts on your wall, do not reply. This is only for women to remember that this is the week to remember and care about breast cancer. And that we should always think about it.
To make a heart, type < with no space and then a 3 or just highlight the heart, copy and then paste to your wall post.

I wonder who started this but you know how it is on the net, every message you post seems to spread like wildfire without the senders even thinking if it would be appreciated by the recipient.  It’s their way of  making the guys curious about what the heart represents just like the one I received a year ago to just post any color on your wall when the original message was, what’s the color of the bra you’re wearing or something to that effect. Anyway, it’s good that they even think  of and care about breast cancer but it is quite insensitive when they send  the same message to a cancer patient or a cancer survivor  who had struggled with a different kind of cancer. Why do they have to isolate it to breast cancer alone? Why do they need to put the nail on the head and emphasize that it is only breast cancer that matters? You might think,  am I just so sensitive because I was also a cancer victim? Why can’t they just generalize their message and make it a sort of prayer brigade for all people afflicted with the disease, breast cancer or not? There are as many types of cancer that you could not even count on your fingers and if I may say, every cancer type is lethal when you discover it too late and when it is on its progressive stage.

A few weeks after I’ve finished my chemotherapy  almost two years ago (December 08, 2009 was my last session by the way), I searched the net for foundations which support cancer survivors and all I found were the pink ribbon organizations that again, are concentrated on breast cancer awareness and cure. I felt frustrated that they zeroed in on just one type when there are also millions of people out there suffering from other types of cancer.  I understand that breast cancer is one of the most common type of cancers in women, but when you are afflicted with the disease, breast cancer or not, you suffer the same degree of pain and anguish. You suffer the same insecurities whether you will get well or not. And it is even funny that when you meet people from all walks of life and let them know that you are a survivor, they always assume that it is breast cancer. Nope, I said, I had stage 3 colon cancer  and they usually ask if  the treatment is the same – I dont’ know about the other types but I underwent six cycles of chemotherapy and took oral chemotherapy tablets for more than five months. It’s the effect of the chemo drugs on your body that you have to be aware of because one of my friends who is also a cancer survivor  told me that long after you are done with the drastic treatment, the toxins injected in your body are still there.  Trite as it may sound, it’s not a walk in the park and you need lots of resources to continue with the treatment.

In the long run, if you ask me what I value most in my life now, it’s my health. What they say is true, health is wealth. And yes, prayers, lots and lots of prayers and the will and strength to move on – the will to live a normal life again as much as possible.  And the fervent wish that they will finally find a cure instead of subjecting a patient to slash, poison and burn. A friend whom I met on the net and has written several books on alternative cure  said that Slash means the surgery itself, Poison refers of course to chemotherapy and Burn is his term for Radiation Therapy.  And let me end this blog by quoting some favorite lines from one of my favorite writers of all time, Henri Nouwen, a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer:

Why is it important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you “my beloved daughter,” “my beloved son,” my beloved child.” To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.

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One gets bored sometime with all the negative news all around. So now you know, the two teenagers  I blogged about yesterday are both brain-dead. What a senseless way to bring two lives at an end just because of jealousy or would you call that temporary insanity?

It’s part of life to undergo mood swings, ups and downs brought about by sadness and sometimes when it becomes a little uncontrollable, we call it depression. Struggles, disappointments and setbacks are part of the daily grind of living. When we allow ourselves to believe that  we are living in a black hole, and we feel that we are alone in this world, that’s where depression sets in and when you are weak, it would eat you alive.

I remember  a few readings I made when I was undergoing chemotherapy treatment two years ago. The study said that the number one cause of cancer is low immune system, added to that is stress.  When you have a low immune system, you are prone to illness and when you are ill, you easily get depressed too. Being stressed in any kind of work also helps in contributing to those unwanted cancer cells attacking the body. And my doctor says that it usually takes ten years before you can feel the malignant cells slowly prevailing over  the good ones.  You feel the symptoms when those cancel cells are deeply ingrained in your system.  Even if you are so careful with your health and cautious with the food you eat, you can never tell when the time will come that it would be you undergoing the knife and being put to the test and drastic measures of  chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  You could only hope for the best and pray that you’ll be given a second chance at life.

A while ago, a close friend posted this message on his wall at Facebook:  Stupid cancer….Some of us want a new house….A new car….A new mobile phone….To lose weight….But someone battling cancer wants just one thing, to win the battle. Please repost this in honor of someone who lost their battle, or for someone fighting it now. This matters so much to me, I am not just posting it as a status, it’s from the heart.

And here’s my reply to his post: Thanks for this post Paul. I am touched. I always pray for good health for everyone who has in one way or another, experienced battling with it. GO, FIGHT, WIN.

Latest news says that the 13-year old is now dead. His parents decided to have his respirator removed but they will be donating his kidneys and eyes to the Organ Bank.

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“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” – Henry Van Dyke

It’s  so flattering and touching when some of our group members send private messages and share their thoughts and problems. The level  of sharing has evolved into something that I didn’t really expect. They are so open about their  concerns especially in matters of the heart.  Everyone calls me “Mommy” and I have adopted them as my kids.  It’s nice to be needed, it’s nice to feel that you touch people in your own little way.

Somehow, we tend to take things for granted.  We measure success by the number of friends we have, by the amount of money saved in the bank, by the size of our house and the number of cars in our garage. We measure time by the passing of days and months, the things we have accomplished in life. But do we even stop to think that every minute that passes should be treasured? And when you have a healthy life, you are ten times successful. Time does not stand still, no matter what we do, no matter where we are. Most people regard time as their enemy because they are hindered by  it. We keep running out of time and sometimes, twenty-four hours would not be enough for a day.

When you have experienced something as life-changing as cancer, all those precious minutes really count. You think of the days as too long for you to get well. You think of the minutes as too unnerving while your body is attached to those tubes that shout, chemotherapy.  It’s when you realize that life is precious and could be taken anytime from you that you would learn to value everything that comes into it.  Being a cancer survivor taught me so many, many things. Valuing one’s health is one, treasuring each moment that passes is another.  And I feel so blessed that God gave  me a second chance at life to appreciate everything now. Oh yes, there are moments when I get too emotional crying over a good book, a lovely song or even a simple greeting from a friend. I get too emotional reading some comments in my blogs.  A friend once asked me why I am so open about my illness. I have another friend who kept on denying when she was stricken with cancer and it was a long and lonely road for her without someone to talk to except her family and a handful  of friends.  Why would you deny something that would allow other people to  learn from you? Why would you keep something to yourself when you can share your journey with fellow travelers on the same road like you?

Until now, although  I haven’t attempted joining any support group for colon cancer,  I am blessed with a supportive family and caring friends who are always there when I need them.  And my illness lead me closer to Him, giving me a chance to do an online apostolate to help other people.

A smile would come a long way, but a simple hello would lighten the day.

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Just spent the past three days  going to the diagnostic center, undergoing a series of laboratory tests, KUB (Kidney Urinary Bladder ultrasound),  CEA (cancer marker testing) and visiting my two doctors, Dr. Samuel Ang, my surgical oncologist  at the Chinese General Hospital and Dr. Jeff  Peter Jubilado, my new  urologist at Mission Hospital.  Every three months, I have to report back to either one of my medical oncologist, Dr. Priscilla Caguioa at the UST Hospital or to Dr. Ang for consultation.

Of all the laboratory tests that I’ve been through, there are really one or two things I hate most – that of having a KUB and undergoing colonoscopy.  It’s almost a year now since I had major surgery at the Chinese General Hospital and it’s almost a year too since my life has turned upside down, not knowing what the future holds.  Being diagnosed with colon cancer or any cancer for that matter is really a nightmare.  A month ago, I was again hospitalized for a kidney bypass, they inserted a DJ stent  which will  stay inside  for three months, hence this KUB ultrasound which I really abhor.  Imagine yourself almost bursting at the seams,  but you are not allowed to use the ladies’ room because you have to be on a full bladder before they would start on the ultrasound.  It is so inconvenient, but again necessary for your well-being.   I am not against colonoscopy per se but what I hate is the preparation prior to the procedure.  I have resigned myself that this would be a yearly ritual from now on.

When you are sick, you always look at life with renewed faith, trusting  and leaving everything in God’s hands.  It  is quite scary though to anticipate the results of the laboratory tests.  And you can only utter, ‘thank God, thank you Lord” once you see that your CEA marker is still within the normal limits.  Yes, Lord, thank you!  My  cancer marker test was at 1.8 from the normal limit of  0 to 5.0, something I am grateful and thankful for.  My SGPT and SGOT results were so high.  My liver is probably tired of all those medications that I take everyday or  maybe, the high  values  are still the effect of my six cycles of chemotherapy.

I brought along my Thai Cuisine cookbook for something to read while waiting for Dr. Ang.  Some patients of his were discussing about their ailments and I was unashamedly eavesdropping,  hiding behind a face mask.  I still wear one for hospital visits, being afraid to go out in crowded places  until now.  One patient who has a  big lump in her breast said,  “I will never undergo chemotherapy, if this turn out to be malignant, mamatay na kung mamatay”. I was amused at the look on her face.  Then she said, “I don’t have that much money to spend on chemo anyway”. Then she turned to me, our eyes met and she asked, “Bakit po kayo naka face mask?”. They were in rapt attention when I told them what I went through. And their never-ending questions saved  an otherwise boring wait.  It is always easy to say that you don’t want to undergo such drastic measures like chemo or surgery but when you are in that crossroad, the choice is always hard to do.

And do you know  what happiness meant for me  now?  It’s being told by my doctor that I don’t have to undergo colonoscopy  at this time.  He said, “Enjoy the rest of the year Arlene, we will schedule it by January next year“.  Wow, those words were music to my ears.   And he kept saying “Very good, very good,  you are okay”. I told him about my new urologist and when he heard that it was Dr. Jubilado, he told me to stick to the latter because he is a very good doctor.  It turned out that Dr. Samuel Ang was Dr. Jubilado’s mentor.  What a small world!

“The time to be happy is now.

And the place to be happy is here.

And the way to be happy is to make others happy

and we’ll have a little Heaven right here.”- anonymous


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