I went to the hospital with what my doctor thought was a bad kidney infection. I was told at Colchester hospital that I had appendicitis. I had my appendix removed the next morning, I recovered well and was sent home after being told everything was fine.
Two weeks after having my appendix removed, I was called back to the hospital for a post-operative check and was told I had a rare bowel cancer and was being referred to a specialist hospital in Basingstoke.
I had my operation in March 2014. It took 14 hours and I had HIPEC after surgery and intraperitoneal chemo (EPIC) for three days after. I had a hysterectomy, gall bladder, spleen, omentum and liver capsule removed as well as lining of my bowel and diaphragm and a few other bits I’d never heard of!
The team at Basingstoke are confident that they have removed all of the cancer. I started walking and sitting out of bed just three days after my surgery. My mum stayed with me and looked after me through my recovery. It made a big difference to me, I felt safe having her there. It was a tough recovery but it’s amazing how quickly you can start to feel better. After the first few weeks I started to feel much better very quickly.
I returned home after 14 days and I walked my little boy 20 minutes to school the day after I got home. With the help of my husband and neighbour I did the school run from that day, it was a struggle but I managed it. That was all I did for a week but it meant a lot to my son. Two weeks after returning home I was cooking dinner and doing light housework. My appetite took six weeks to return and I had a few issues with eating and I went to my local accident and emergency department with stomach pain but Basingstoke explained that although they hadn’t removed the bowel, one can have problems with adhesions as they removed the lining. I now know what I can and can’t eat and have no more pain. I felt very tired for a few months but now, five months later, I feel very nearly back to normal.
Apart from having my appendix out, I had never had an operation and had no idea what to expect. The hardest thing for me was leaving my four year old son behind the morning I went to Basingstoke, telling him I had a belly ache the doctors were going to fix it and I would see him soon. I don’t remember feeling scared. My family and husband were all devastated. I felt if I got upset and scared they would feel even worse so I told them if I could get through it without crying then so could they and I didn’t want my little boy to be worried. He was too young and had just started school.
I think because I had no symptoms, it was easy to pretend nothing was wrong. I was told in November my appointment with Mr Cecil at Basingstoke was in February so I just got on with enjoying Christmas. I had a few tests in the New Year before my appointment at Basingstoke – a CT scan, ultra sound, colonoscopy and capsule endoscopy.
My appointment at Basingstoke seemed to come round quite quickly for me; my family felt it had been too long. My local hospital had told me I was lucky and they had caught the cancer very early so it was a bit of a shock when I was told I had probably had it for 10 years if not longer and Mr Cecil and the specialist nurse, Sue, talked through the operation and options I had about freezing eggs if I wanted to have more children. My husband and I were trying for a baby but I decided then and there that I just wanted the best chance to be around for the child I had and we were lucky to have him. I got the date for my surgery the following day. It still all felt like it was happening to someone else not me as I felt great; I never even catch a cold.
My local hospital where great. I had a specialist nurse for colon cancer. She didn’t know much about PMP but she phoned me a few times a week to ask how I was doing from when I was diagnosed to my appointment at Basingstoke and she personally chased all my test results. I was also offered aftercare with a Macmillan councillor and physiotherapy in their hospital gym. My mum was wonderful and really looked after me she didn’t leave my side through everything. My husband struggled with it all but we have come through it closer than ever.
Five months after surgery, I’m well on my way to feeling great again except I now have a lot more confidence than I did before my operation. If I can get through that I can do anything. I feel I will have a better life than I did before as I worry less and enjoy everything more. I am very lucky to have had treatment and a chance to live cancer free and see my little boy grow up. I am much more laid back and we have a lot of fun. I went on holiday three months after my surgery and for the first time in my life I felt confident on the beach in my bikini which is crazy as for the first time in my life I had a big scar and no belly button something I should have felt self-conscious about but I didn’t I felt proud of my body for getting me through such a huge operation!
I feel great. I was worried about catching colds and things without my spleen but I’m as healthy as I was before. My son and husband have caught colds but I have not which is normal for us. I have caught a sickness bug from my son since surgery but I recovered quickly with no problems and again compared to what I’ve been through, it felt like nothing. I got over it much quicker than I would have before. I feel stronger than I was. I know everyone is different but sometimes things can work out great.
In case you missed it...
My local hospital happens to be the centre in Israel for treating this disease and two of the surgeons working there have extensive experience in performing cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC. To those of you have undergone this procedure, I don’t need to say more. If you are still recovering or about to undergo it, I wish you excellent care, strength, patience, and a complete recovery.
When I was diagnosed in with PMP in 1999, there was no information, no glossy pamphlets, no specialist nurses, no web site, NOTHING.
The last year and a half has been a profound and unmooring experience, and one I turn over in my mind with gratitude, disbelief, and amazement.