The First Shoots of Recovery

If I tell you that the highlight of my day on Thursday was seeing two of the Nolan sisters at The Christie, then you’ll probably agree that the day wasn’t that good. I thought I saw one of them in the waiting area whilst I went to give more of my blood for yet more testing. I did the double take thing, but decided no, it can’t be. She looked like the one on This Morning, so it couldn’t be her, because she’ll be on This Morning at this time of the day, surely. 10 minutes later there were two of them walking down the corridor towards me. Don’t ask me which two, but possibly the one who IS on This Morning, although obviously if it was that one she wasn’t, if you get my drift. If it was, then she certainly looks better in real life than she does on TV.

Thursday was supposed to be D-Day, or decision day. But it didn’t turn out that way as will become clear in a few minutes. It was the day I would see Mr. S, the consultant surgeon, to find out how effective my treatment had been, results of scans, blood tests etc. As I said to my kids, who were the first people I phoned after my appointment, it wasn’t about good news and bad news, more about positive and negatives. I think I prefer to look at it that way. The worst kept secret is, at last, out. I am now officially a stage IV cancer sufferer, or to put it another way, the cancer has spread to my liver. Previous diagnosis had staged my cancer as stage III or IV i.e. there was some doubt as to whether the cancer had spread. We can now confirm it has. Recent scans have confirmed the presence of a small tumour on my liver.  That’s the negative part. On the positive side, it’s a small single tumour and is not attached to any major blood vessels, and as a result it is operable. The liver specialist believes he can deal with it by liver resection, or to put it another way, he can cut it out. Mr. S is now waiting to hear from the liver surgeon to see if they can operate at the same time. Another positive, both operations can be done using laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. Between them they might decide it’s best for me to recover from one surgery before embarking on the other, although I have to admit, it would be nice to get them over at the same time. However, I’ll have to leave that decision to them.

So that’s the secondary tumour. The primary one, in my bowel, has been reduced in size by 50% thanks to the radiotherapy. I had hoped that it might have disappeared altogether, but I guess that was hoping for a little too much in the circumstances. Mr. S is happy with the reduction, and, another positive, he is confident that the planned ileostomy will be reversible at some point in the future. Effectively the two ends will be joined up again once the bowel has recovered from surgery. However ! The recent PET CT scan has highlighted another area in the bowel, this time higher up in the transverse colon, that is raising some concern. The scan is designed to show areas of abnormal blood supply or ’hot spots’ , and so I will be undergoing a further colonoscopy to investigate this further. It doesn’t mean there is another tumour, or even that the area is cancerous but it needs investigating before surgery can proceed. The original colonoscopy I had was unable to get past the primary tumour, and so I’ll be going through the procedure again so they can have a good look round. It may be that these ’hot spots’ are just polyps (pre-cancerous growths) in which case they can be removed during the procedure, or further biopsies taken. Either way, the colonoscopy should provide answers.

It’s more than likely, due to the spread of cancer to my liver, and the probability that this was through my lymphatic system, that I will require some kind of further treatment after surgery. Maybe more intensive chemotherapy, biological therapy or some other form of therapy. There are many new treatments available, particularly for treating metastatic bowel cancer (secondary bowel cancer that happens to be in the liver, i.e. this is NOT cancer of the liver), but the decision on this will not be taken until after surgery when a full histopathology examination of the tissue can be undertaken. All in all, a very informative morning. Certainly a lot of information to take in, but I think I’ve got my head round it. I was quite prepared for the news on my liver to be worse than it actually was. That may sound strange, but metastatic tumours on the liver are quite often in clusters, and can also be inoperable due to their attachment or closeness to major blood vessels. So I have good reason to be positive about the outcome. Still a lot of decisions to be made, but I’m looking at all the positives that came out of today’s meeting, rather than just concentrating on the negative aspect of the unwelcome spread of the cancer. I’m grateful to both Mr. S and colorectal nurse specialist Becky who took the time to explain everything to me in detail, and ensure that my many questions were answered before I left the hospital. I never expected this to be easy, and although the goal posts have moved slightly, I’m still in a kicking mood and have been practicing both long and close range shots.

I had expected that surgery would have been completed before I saw the first shoots from the bulbs I planted last year. I hadn’t taken into account the unreasonably mild final 3 months of last year, nor the delays in progress of my treatment. Regular readers will know that I was a little concerned that recent snow had thwarted my attempts to produce colour in my garden. I needn’t have worried. Most of my garden was covered with tarpaulin during the recent snow, but one section I was unable to protect, and so has been under 4-5 inches of snow/ice up until the thaw earlier this week. It’s reassuring to know that mother nature shines through even under the most adverse  conditions. I’ll be taking great inspiration from that tiny flower, together we’ll grown strong and be blooming again by the time summer comes. The first shoots of recovery.


If you have any concerns about bowel cancer, or just want more information or check cancer rates in your area you can find all the information advice and help you need here.


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5 Responses to The First Shoots of Recovery

  1. SWBVR says:

    my heart sank when i read this – although, as always, your positivity and way with words shines through. Well done you, and well done little bulb.

  2. Hi there, keep that same outlook, there is good news and hope out there, I had same as you and had primary tumour removed and 15 lymph nodes and then the secondary 1 only tumour from liver removed. All successful surgeries thru keyhole and positive histology results got everything they could see, just in middle of 6 months oxy and cape and then fingers crossed for clear scan in may. The ops were fine, watch out for day 3 when you get a bit down buth otherwise good and hopefull you will be out in 5 nights. Recovery usually 4-6 weeks but you will be fine. Chemo is worse I always think as goes on for so long and you can’t predict how you will feel from day to day can you? Sounds like they are doing everything for you. All the best luck and stength for next few months,

  3. Alec Norton says:

    As disheartening a situation as it is for extra problems to arise, I can see some good coming from having the complications turn up now when you’re already in the midst of treatment, rather than having them crop up further down the line when you think you’re clear of it all.

    Here’s to looking back on this in a couple of years as an annoying bump in the road.

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