Biology and the workings of cells are so complex….

Posted on December 8, 2009. Filed under: The 'C' Word |

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a message to the blog.  There are a couple reasons for this:

  1. I’ve had surgery, and frankly didn’t much feel like posting
  2. My wife took over the day to day communications to most people, so there wasn’t as much of an immediate need for me to do it

 

So, that is it.  Not much desire to get on the computer.  I’ve got an incision from my belly button (Dr. fixed a herniated belly button while he was there – thanks, Dr. Shashi!) all the way down to my pubic bone.  About 10 inches of nicely healing scar. During the surgery (possible over-share violation upcoming), the Dr. removed some inches of my rectum and colon, containing the tumor.  Remember the tumor was only a 5 cm mass, but it was very important to take enough to ensure that the entire mass was removed.  In addition, they harvested a large number of lymph nodes in that area because of the high suspicion that they might be involved. Once the clean up was done, the ends of colon and the remainder f the rectum were reconnected in some specific manner.

To give the newly reattached plumbing time to heal, the Dr. installed an ileostomy. An ileostomy is done by separating the ileum or the end loop of the small intestine that attaches to the large colon on hte right side of the body, and presenting it to the surface of the abdomen through a hole in the surface skin and muscles.  The intestine in turned inside out where it exits the hole, and is sewn in place.  The exposed inner intestine in impervious to the output fluids, however, the skin is not.  The patient in fitted with a replaceable appliance that serves to protect the skin and act as a ‘port’ to a bag to retain the output from the ‘stoma’, or the external intestine.  The stoma and the appliance must be replaced, and contains a pectin that provides the skin barrier and the seal between the appliance and the stoma.  The bag needs to be emptied as it fills.

So, as you might imagine, there are two types of ileostomies – permanent and temporary.  Mine is temporary.  When my doctor determines that the rectum/colon is healed, I’ll go in for a much less radical surgery to reconnect the ileum to the colon, and to remove the ostomy in my abdomen.

Waiting is the hardest part…

When you have cancer, you are always waiting for news.  Is it back?  Is it gone? How bad is it? Will I die?

The news that I was waiting for was very simple – do I have cancer or not?

Once the colon tumor was out, the pathologist had full and complete access to every bit of the mass.  And, remember those lymph nodes that were harvested?  He had access to those two.  If there was cancer, it couldn’t hide any longer.

My Doctor did a great job in calling in some favors and the Thursday after the surgery was able to tell us that the tumor was fully contained in mass.  Nothing outside of the colon walls, period.  And, for good measure – none of the lymph nodes showed any signs of cancer.

For the record:

I did have cancer.  The mass was malignant. But, of the three walls of the colon, it had penetrated two of them.

And, for the record:

I’m a cancer survivor.   And, damn happy to be among that class of champions.

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One Response to “Biology and the workings of cells are so complex….”

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Great to hear the news Rick! I\’ve been following the Blog and I\’m so happy and relieved that yoiu are doing well. I\’ll keep in touch and remember, we have a golf date!


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