As my wife noted to me today, it's easy to get a bit blasé at the Cancer Agency—everyone there is dealing with cancer, and it almost seems normal. But today, after my final radiation treatment (yay!) and an excellent Mexican lunch with our friend Steven, I took a brief nap in his guest room and then walked to St. Paul's Hospital to meet with my surgeon, Dr. Brown. His news was not unexpected, but it wasn't the best case scenario either.
The upshot: when I have my tumour surgery in July, Dr. Brown recommends removing everything in my bowel from the bottom of my sigmoid colon on down, leaving with me no functioning rectum, and meaning that I will need a colostomy bag for the rest of my life. Yikes.
Now, I figured that might be the case, but it was still difficult to hear straight up. I can't argue with Dr. Brown's conclusion. He wants to eliminate every trace of cancer he can get at. All the tissue that was previously found to be cancerous, all the associated lymph nodes, and a buffer of extra tissue to ensure, as best as possible, that nothing malignant lingers.
I've read a little on the topic in case it came to this, and colostomies aren't nearly as nasty as you might think. Plenty of people have them, and those people swim, and do sports, and live their lives with hardly anyone knowing about it. And, to be frank, I'm not too fond of my rectum right now anyway. Ahem. I'll get used to my new body functions, as I have with my daily insulin needles over the past 16 years. But this reinforces that my cancer is a Big Deal. A Very Big Deal. This is what it takes to try to stop the cancer from killing me.
And it is a big step. The procedure will effectively move my anus up and onto the side of my abdomen, and the one I've been using since I was born almost 38 years ago will be sewn up, gone. That is just weird.