The Cancer Chronicles

Many of you already know a lot of this, but for those that don’t, here’s what’s been a major factor in my life for the past year.

I’ll be referring back to this post in future posts when updating my journey of rehab and recovery, which I am just beginning.

A year ago this month, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. The doctor, at one point, called the tumor a “man killer”.

Last summer my treatment started with radiation and oral chemotherapy. I handled both of them fairly well, although the radiation also fried my bladder which is still an issue to this day.
Even though I handled these treatments fairly well, because of all of the appointments for the radiation (Mon. thru Fri. for 5 weeks) and other doctor visits, there was a toll on my activity level and on the amount of business I was able to conduct.

In September, about a month after finishing chemo and radiation, I spent 8 days in the hospital to have the tumor removed. The surgeon actually had a hard time finding it since the chemo and radiation did such a good job of shrinking and destroying it.
Unfortunately, part of the surgery also involved getting an ileostomy to let what was left of the lower bowels heal. On the positive side, the ileostomy was temporary and would be reversed after I completed the next round of treatment.
I also had a port (Smart Port) implanted in my chest to accommodate the upcoming IV chemotherapy.

Due to recovery from the surgery, problems and complications with the ileostomy, and side effects of the next round of treatment, I was unable to work or be active at all, which continues to this day. I am just now starting to experiment with super low volume and intensity activity….baby steps. I have no idea when I’ll be back to work.

The next round of treatment was IV chemotherapy. In addition to going to the Oncology office for blood work and a consult with the doctor on the day before treatment, this involved going to the Oncology infusion center for a few hours to get the drugs started and then I came home with a portable pump that I wore for the next 48 hours….that was a real pain in the ass to sleep with, or really to do anything at all, but it was doable.
This happened every other week for 4 months.
My body didn’t handle this chemo quite as well as the oral chemo I had during the summer, but part of that was probably just being worn down from so many months of treatments/surgery.
Fortunately, I only experienced mild nausea, but I started getting neuropathy in my hands, mouth and throat…a serious, painful sensitivity to cold in those areas. This neuropathy went away a couple of weeks after the last chemo treatment.

A little over a month after the last chemo treatment, I was admitted into the hospital to have my ostomy reversed. It was supposed to be a 3-4 day stay, but I ended up being there for 3 full weeks. That was totally surreal, and I still can’t wrap my head around just how long I was in there.
The reason for the long stay was that my bowels just didn’t want to wake up and start working again. After 6 months of not having to do anything, they had a steep learning curve ahead of them. They’re still learning too.
I also had the port in my chest removed, which it turned out might have been a mistake that no one could have seen coming.  After 10 days in the hosp. I had a PICC line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) inserted for TPN infusions (Total Parenteral Nutrition) which I was told could have been done through the Smart Port in my chest if it hadn’t been removed.  I’m still glad I had the port removed though, so I don’t have to deal with it down the road.

I maintained my usual weight of ~185 lbs up until the first surgery. I lost 20 lbs in the hosp. and then another 10 lbs at home (actually a little more than that at one point).
I regained 10 lbs before the last surgery, but lost it again while in the hosp. I’ve managed to not lose any more weight since being home (I’ve been home for a little under 2 weeks now), but I haven’t gained any either.  So, I’m starting my rehab and recovery phase at ~155 lbs.
I also developed more neuropathy in my hands and feet while in the hosp….a moderate numbness and cold feeling. Still waiting to see if that’s going to disappear.

So, there ya have it…a year in the life of your trainer.
I’ve left out some of the more gruesome and painful details, but this is pretty much what my life has been for the past year.

I haven’t always handled the changes and stress very well through this, and the journey isn’t over yet, but it’s been a learning experience. I must say, though, that there are some lessons I would gladly have gone a lifetime without learning.

I’ve got quite a road to recovery ahead of me, and I’m not sure when I’ll be back on the trails or can return to training clients, but I’m headed in the right direction.

Meanwhile, I am still available to answer fitness, health and wellness questions you might have, even if I can’t actually train you.

I’ll be getting back to regular blog posts soon, usually posting informative articles followed by my “TOPFIT Daily Activities” part of the post. When posting about my rehab and recovery, I’ll refer back to this post for those that need some background.

~Feelin’ Alive!~