I thought I’d write my experience of anal cancer in hope that it’s helpful to someone, to you, in that you might feel less alone. Also, my story has a happy ending.
There were signs. Pain and bleeding. My doctor didn’t think there was cause for concern but when it didn’t heal and kept getting worse (a good year and a half in) she eventually sent me to see a specialist surgeon. I waited four months for that appointment to come around. But when it did, everything suddenly moved real fast. I had a biopsy the very next day and two weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer. I was 38 and I remember standing in the hospital parking lot with my husband, smoking one of my last ever cigarettes, determined not to cry because I had an epic ten-hour work day ahead of me.
Even though I’d tried to mentally prepare for the worst, it was still such a blow. I was so disappointed in myself. For being so stupid, smoking in particular is monumentally idiotic. I knew that and yet. Well.
While I waited for my pending MRI and CT scans to come around I thought a lot about what needed to change. Obviously, the smoking had to go. The diet had to change. I don’t drink that much anymore, but still. Meditation. Exercise. Adding good stuff, subtracting the bad. I thought a lot about what’s important and what’s not. The small, petty, everyday stuff suddenly was just that. Not worth the energy. Creativity stood out as a beacon. Purpose. Beauty.
From being diagnosed until finding out how big the cancer was, if it was stage 1, 2, 3 or 4, was one of the strangest periods of my life. Not knowing how much time, if any, I had left put things into sharp relief.
Thankfully it turned out to be a small tumour with 85% chance of cure. Grateful for those odds. The treatment plan was explained to me by my radiology oncologist and I was given a little pamphlet for prostate cancer, seeing as anal cancer is in that general area, only not as common as prostate so no brochure. Similar side effects, I guess, apart from the inevitable dive into menopause.
I found out that I was in for 30 blasts of radiation and two rounds of chemo. Six weeks of treatment in total, weekends off.
Fun fact: Did you know there are more than 100 types of chemo drugs? At least I got to keep my hair with the Mytomycin and 5-FU. Small wins.
If you would like to read more about Kalou’s Story go to: MY BLOG – ROLLING AS KALOU