...but we're getting there. After discussions with my surgeon Dr. Brown at St. Paul's today, here is what it most likely to happen, unless he changes his mind in discussions with his colorectal surgery colleagues in the next few days:
- I will first have my small fibrous rectal nodule removed in a day surgery procedure, to ensure that (as all the doctors suspect so far) it is indeed a benign mass. It needs to come out no matter what, and Dr. Brown would prefer to do it first, in the unlikely event that examining it would change what happens with the next operation. That first day-surgery procedure may happen as early as next week, somewhere right around Valentine's Day, which is also my oldest daughter's ninth birthday.
- Fairly soon after that, maybe as early as a week later, or perhaps two, I will go in again for the full-on resection of my sigmoid colon to remove that cancerous lesion of mine that all the kids are talking about. That will be the week-in-hospital, two-months-off-work operation.
- Once an oncologist looks at what gets removed during those two surgeries, we'll be able to figure out whether I need chemotherapy. I will not likely receive any radiation treatment, since doctors prefer to use that on cancers that are near or at the outside of the body—the risk of damaging other non-cancerous tissues is too great, and the benefit questionable, in a case like mine.
- I will be walking around a bit a day or two after my big surgery, and will be reasonably mobile, if a tad doped-up and sleepy, once i get home.
- At some point I will see people at the B.C. Cancer Agency for counselling, if not additional direct medical treatment.
All these plans are, as I have learned, subject to change as new information comes in and my doctors revise their opinions. I have a good team working with me on this one. I also appreciate that they have all been very open to my questions, answering at the right level of detail.
Dr. Brown pointed out two other things:
- In young patients like me (I'm 37), there is usually some family history of bowel cancer, but my genetic family has none. Which is good, because in those cases (and where many polyps tend to appear in the colon) doctors might recommend removing pretty much the entire large intestine. I'd prefer not to do that if it's not necessary.
- Doctors tend to treat cancer rather aggressively in someone as young as I am, because, (a) our bodies can usually handle it better, and (b) we have many more years left to live in which cancer might recur. (Someone who's 80 years old doesn't usually worry about cancer recurring in 20 or 30 years. Someone in his mid-30s does.)
So I'm getting close to having a definitive date, but I'll still be at work tomorrow, before I see my family doctor again on Wednesday.
And that phrase many more years left to live was fucking good to hear.