and then… everything suddenly got horrifically shit

Photo on 6-06-14 at 2.53 PM #2

this is what someone with stage three cancer looks like

i have tried to avoid cuss words here, even though i am a potty mouth at the best of times.

warning: post will contain bowel related grossness. and from here forward, bowel related grossness is going to become a Thing. soz.

but fuck it. fuck pretty much everything.

i got the diagnosis last night. despite what everyone has said, over and over again, it’s cancer. it’s a secondary cancer, with a suspected primary bowel cancer. it’s all wheels in motion: a colonoscopy on tuesday (monday is when the bowel specialist comes back), and once they’ve found the little shithead, they’ll know what treatment path to go down. it’s a magical mystery tour through my guts, to find where the cancer is hiding. HURAH. i’m also having a pelvic ultrasound (gross, i hate them so much) to make extra sure it’s not ovarian cancer – a very tiny risk, because i’ve been checked in both the CT and abdominal ultrasound and both came back clear. i am referring to this search as the magical mystery tour.

i actually have no idea how to feel about this. i have no idea how to process this, or what to do, or how to do it, or how to move forward, or how to think about anything other than the fact my body has cancer in it and i had no idea.

for context: i have suffered IBS my whole life. all of the symptoms of bowel cancer are covered under that gross heading – the seriously sad poos of deep abiding sorrow, the crippling pain that starts in your stomach and runs down your inner thighs, and causes you to vomit and pass out … these have always been my experiences of the grand beast that is my lousy rotten digestive system, since i can remember.

so, you know, it’s almost not a surprise it is bowel cancer, you know? it’s always been a rotten piece of shit (LOLOL) and it looks like that’s manifested in a particularly violent manner.

it makes little sense, though – there’s no sign of it spreading anywhere else, i Still have no symptoms of a cancer that’s at that point, because i feel completely fine – no weight loss (apart from anxiety over all this), no pain (other than usual IBS stuff), no real firm indications of anything that would have suggested this has happened. the doctors are all shocked, and confused. my stomach has been poked and prodded repeatedly for years. how can it have cancer in it? the CT scan showed nothing (though it doesn’t scan the bowel). doctors know this stuff. but doctors also told me it wasn’t cancer. repeatedly. with confidence.

today, i’m feeling less terrified than last night. i’ve had a chat to the nurse at the clinic who reassured me, that as gross as what i’m about to start is going to be, there are a lot of options. Bowel cancer is not the end of the world, and there are heaps of treatment plans. it’s not going to be a fun six-twelve months, but there’s a lot they can, and will do, to get me to the other side of it all. it is, strangely enough, better than a primary liver cancer. how about that, then.

i am getting a lot of STAY POSITIVE. i feel gobsmacked though. not positive. in shock. not positive. completely unable to know how to deal. not positive. i guess positive comes later. i think i might have a nap, because i feel overwhelmed.

i get anxious now that every tiny thing is a SIGN. sleepy? SIGN OF CANCER. no, it’s a sign that i am emotionally exhausted and fighting off a depressive episode. headache? i always get tension headaches. i probs don’t have a brain tumours. spasms? no, you idiot, it’s not muscle cancer. what the ? really?

and so on. i don’t want to go here. i don’t want to go into this place that scares me, and i am not feeling ready to start walking here. but it is where i am, and i start here. which is where i am. and i will accept it, i will keep going, and what will happen will happen.

but if i can just emphasise one thing: people, for the love of all things holy, PLEASE get regular, detailed check ups. find a GP who will listen to you. be overcautious.  i have stage three cancer and my doctors all had no idea.  i look healthy. my liver functions fine. my IBS covered any bowel symptoms. a bowel screen came back negative. i haven’t lost heaps of weight, and had been training with a personal trainer. apart from the nausea, i was feeling completely fine.  keep a close relationship with your GP, and work with them. notice small changes in your body. listen to it. listen to your instincts. if they refuse you tests, find a GP who will write the referrals.  you can start in the public system – it has its limitations, but it is where this started for me – and they were the first people to identify it as a secondary.

doctors are not gods. they don’t know all the answers.  but they know more about it than i do, and i have to trust that, even after the numerous nasty errors.

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About elizabeth

various things.
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15 Responses to and then… everything suddenly got horrifically shit

  1. Nikhilā says:

    I always think that the whole ‘stay positive’ attitude is misinterpreted. Everyone reads it as ‘keep smiling even if you don’t feel like it, at least it’s not worse’ which are all things that really don’t help at all when something like this happens. And in a way, it’s encouraging you to loss over everything and not confront any of your negative emotions.
    I think ‘stay positive’ means find things that bring you joy and remember them, even when everything else seems awful.
    It’s perfectly natural to feel numb, to cry and scream and swear, to be despairing, but after having a cry go look at your plants, cuddle a bunny or your partner, listen to some good music (even if the lyrics are depressing).
    I love you cuz. You are so strong and so smart and you were my best friend when I was on treatment for cancer and then recovering, so I’ll always be here for you.

    • veritas says:

      we’ll get through it, yep. you went through treatment like a champion and you came out the other side to be an amazing, strong woman. this inspires me to do the same. and to keep going.
      i really like the way you put that – i find strength in my friends, in the many people i know who have come out the other side of cancer – in the fact i am lucky they found it now, before it got into the lymphatic system – that my doctors are excellent – that i can afford it – and that i am supported, so so well.
      lots of night crying. and some day crying. and then, star trek, knitting, and thinking about the other side. xxxthank you, thank you. thank you. love.

  2. Alacaeriel says:

    Plenty of agreement here! For the last part, at least. If anything is unusual, or you notice people in general don’t have the same issues, ask your doctor. If they don’t care, just shrug it off, or tell you to stop reading the internet, find someone who will listen, will check, will write referrals. If it’s something, you’ll find it. If it really is nothing, you’ll find that out, too.

    • veritas says:

      exactly. though, for me, i have a flat out ban on doctor google. NO DOCTOR GOOGLE! he’s not my friend. he’s a terrible doctor.

      Fight for it! every step.

  3. Jeff Magnus says:

    Remember Fear is nothing more than a fuzzy baby panda

  4. You are just amazing to me. Facing this horrific thing, so young (you are super young to me! Are you even thirty?) but with such intelligence, openness and honesty. I know you don’t feel brave, but from where I’m standing, looking this in the face (and blogging about it!) is an act of extreme courage. You are a beautiful person, you will get through this, and you will be all the more awesome for it. I love you.

    • veritas says:

      thanks so much, wonderful woman. yeah, i turned 30 in April. blogging is the best thing i can do, strangely enough. i feel a lot better for it. xxx

  5. PS I have known at least 3 people to survive bowel cancer. Also, I had to go through this whole shit thing to log into wordpress, which I only did because you’re awesome, and I wanted to make a shit joke.

    • veritas says:

      SHIT JOKES ARE THE BEST JOKES. i am going to be making so many of them. liver cancer had a lot more limitations on the number of puns. they are now limitless. Crap, poo, shit. variations. i can go on for hours.

      Bowel cancer, i’m told, makes me very lucky. when they thought it was primary liver cancer, it would have been far less likely i would be ok. as it is, the secondaries are easy to treat, it’s still pretty localised, and as long as they find the bastard in my bowel, i’ll probably get through it.

  6. greenspace01 says:

    fark! stage three? you look fab (trying to avoid the “but you don’t *look* sick” line). actually, you look tired, pale and stressed. but otherwise fab.
    many successful treatments for bowel cancer. (not activated almonds)
    gentle hugs

    • veritas says:

      weirdly enough, i’m pretty much always that pale. amusingly, because i’m terrified of skin cancer (and all other cancer) so i avoided the sun. tired, yes. and definitely stressed.

      yeah, from what little i know, metastasic cancer makes it stage three, as it’s spread from the original source. could be stage 2, it’s not stage 4. it’s very, very weird – because it’s not in the lymph system (POSITIVE MANTRA) which means it went straight from the bowel (food in into blood) into the liver (blood, into liver) set up shop, has no desire to keep on going. GOOD tumours. stay. STAY!

  7. greenspace01 says:

    unambitious tumours are the best kind 🙂

  8. batgirl says:

    Bitch, moan and complain when you need to. Be strong and let your friends be strong with you when you need to.

    For what it’s worth a cancer surgeon told my dad that if dad really wanted to have a cancer then bowel cancer was a good one to have. Dad had the ‘unambitious’ kind (he would loved that description) – 12 months of not niceness but a full and complete recovery.

    Good luck, stay feisty.

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