Symptoms and diagnosis
On April 22nd of 2020, I was diagnosed with stage three C colorectal cancer which was very high up at the rectum with a colon junction. It had perforated the wall of the rectum and was in five to six lymph nodes in my pelvic area. According to the American Cancer Body, the type of cancer that I had, has only a 16% to 20% survival rate.
I had a root canal on 12th March, and the antibiotics prescribed to me irritated the tumour mass in my rectum. I started to bleed out. My brother, who’s a radiologist, initially thought I had colitis. More than a month later, I had stopped taking my dose of antibiotics hoping that it would go away. But the Cat scan found a 9.5-centimeter mass or tumour. It was incredibly slow-growing, according to my oncologist surgeon and I might have had it in 2014 or 2015. Back in 2014, I thought maybe I had hemorrhoid because I didn’t have any massive bleeding.
Reactions after knowing about cancer
When I was first diagnosed, I was 51. Before diagnosis, I figured that I was suffering from depression. So after the initial shock of finding out that I had cancer, I was actually relieved because I realised my feelings were genuine. I had to figure out a way to tell my parents, my wife, and my kids. They were all devastated.
Treatments underwent and side effects
I began the first of 27 radiation treatments in May, 2020. I started taking a 3000 mg daily dose of Zolota or the generic version is capecitabine. Chemotherapy tablets didn’t cause any nausea or other side effects. I didn’t even lose my hair.
For the first two weeks, I was very worried so I asked my wife to drive. This was followed by radiotherapy. About two weeks later, the blood supply to the tumour was cut off and it started shrinking. I felt amazing to the extent that I was able to do yoga, ride my bike, work out, meditate, and do all of the things that I needed to do to get myself. I was mentally ready for the radiation and chemo.
On September 30, 2020, I had my first surgery. When they took out a portion of my rectum, it showed a zero five millimetre little dot that was leftover which was 9.5 earlier. I no longer had cancer. I stayed almost a month after the surgery. I even got an infection after the surgery.
I manage my emotional well-being by putting on strong will, a hard head, and sure determination. I knew the odds. But I chose to ignore them and felt good about it from the start. I’m a plan of an action guy. Once, I came to know about the treatment plan and schedule, it helped me to get mentally ready. I was ready to whip my cancer.
My support system
My support system was my family. I would use social media a lot. But the problem was that when they tried to give me support, they started crying. So I would post updates on social media like Facebook and the outpouring of encouraging words that I received. I didn’t know I had that many friends and the outpouring of support was almost overwhelming. It made me feel really good inside. I also had some counselling to rule out any chance of having PTSD.
Experience with doctors and medical staff
My radiation oncologist and the techs who administered the radiation were amazing. They didn’t say anything negative like chances of survival or side effects like loss of hair.
Positive changes and life lessons
I never felt like it was too much to handle because, in my mind, failure was not an option. I made some lifestyle changes. I had to change my diet and started taking more protein. I still ate only a fraction of what I used to eat, and don’t weigh as much as I did.
Cancer positively changed me without a doubt. It was one of my life’s great resets. I know what it’s important now- it’s God, family, and friends. I’m trying to be the best person that I can be. I was not a materialistic guy.
Message to cancer patients and caregivers
I ask cancer patients and caregivers to stay strong, never lose hope, and keep fighting like a warrior. Do whatever to stay as strong as possible. Meditate, do yoga and work out if you’re able. Learning how to meditate helped me to get my mind in the right spot. Your family is undergoing as much stress as you are, so look to others for support as I did.
Social media can be really good and it can be a great way to garner a lot of encouragement and support. Be patient with your caregivers and or family because they might not have a clue what you’re going through. You need to be open and honest with them. Ask questions and don’t ever be afraid to get a second opinion. If you’re uneasy about what’s being recommended, you can seek another opinion
I think most people don’t realise that the main causes of death are due to either heart or brain-related diseases. I think most people believe that cancer is an automatic death sentence. But most types of cancer, if detected early enough, are very treatable and curable. Medical science in the past ten to 15 years has come so far. If I’d been diagnosed a year and a half later, the tumour could be taken out with a gamma knife, with no incisions. Awareness in the US has increased a lot over the years, especially about the early detection of cancer.