Let me be up front…this is going to be pretty blunt & as descriptive as possible, so if you are squeemish, you might want to hit the back button on your browser at this point.
I was diagnosed with Rectal Cancer on February 10, 2012. It wasn’t a complete surprise. I had joked with my wife Dawnette a couple months earlier that I had a dream that the pain I was going through was actually cancer. Kinda interesting when you fast-forward to today.
For some background, since roughly May 2011 I started experiencing some pain…because of the location, symptoms, etc. I figured it was hemorrhoids. I don’t get them often, but you just do the usual Preparation-H & a week or so later you’re good to go. This was a bit different though, the pain seemed a bit more intense. And it only got exponentially worse.
After trying the Preparation-H for a couple weeks, I eventually went to the doctor in August (yes, it’s called procrastination). My GP (Dr. Jennifer Culver) gave me the latex glove treatment & told me I had hemorrhoids. After giving me a couple of prescriptions, she told me to check back with her in 30-60 days.
During this time, the pain kept getting worse…more intense and accompanied by bleeding. Not just the usual blood-tinged stool, but it started literally dripping blood. Bowel movements became increasingly painful as well. The stool wasn’t hard…it was fairly soft, but it was still painful nonetheless. It got to the point where I was sitting on ice packs to help alleviate (what I thought was the) inflammation from the hemorrhoids.
After 60+ days of no relief, I figured I would try some herbal remedies. I ordered some Mayinglong Musk Hemorrhoids Ointment Cream from Amazon.com & that seemed to alleviate the pain, at least temporarily…perhaps “sooth” the pain might be a better explanation. I also started using “wet-wipes” that I saturated with Witch Hazel. That had a slight soothing effect as well. Remember, we thought we were treating hemorrhoids. I also purchased some Horse Chestnuts (don’t ask, I have NO idea) & Butcher’s Broom (again, don’t ask…it said it would work, so I was up to trying just about anything).
By this point, I had also started doing HOT baths with epsom salt…this also seemed to provide temporary pain relief….and then there were the ice packs…sitting on an ice pack tended to sooth what we thought were swollen hemorrhoids.
In November 2011, Dawnette & I went to New York to visit with family, go to the City (we went & saw Wicked on Broadway), etc. On the way back (literally the day before we left), I came down with some sort of facial skin rash of some sort. I thought we could wait it out, but the cream we bought before heading to the airport to get back to Dallas did nothing. So on the way home, we stopped at the Frisco Urgent Care facility. They gave me some steroidal cream & then gave me an additional prescription for my hemorrhoids.
Two months went by & I had enough…I went back to my GP (Jennifer Culver) on January 17th & had a follow-up visit, explaining to her that the bleeding wasn’t the usual blood-tinged stool, but rather, dripping blood. She also was surprised that I was still in the severe pain I was in, so she set me up with a visit to an oncologist.
It took me nearly 2 weeks to get an appointment, but on February 30th, 2011, I met with Dr. Burlesson & got the rubber glove treatment. He too thought it was hemorrhoids, though was concerned with the bleeding & pain. He set me up with a colonoscopy for February 10th, 2012.
The night before was fun of course! I delayed starting the colonscopy preparation regimine as I had bowling with the guys on Thursdays. So instead of starting at 5 p.m. as I should have, I didn’t start until 9 p.m. Let’s just say it made for a L-O-N-G night! I took the stool softener pills at 7 p.m. while at bowling. When I got home shortly after 9 p.m., I mixed the Miralax into the 64oz of Gatorade. I started drinking 8 oz every 15 minutes. It took effect fairly quickly…the cleaning/purging began within about an hour. The first hour or two wasn’t so bad, but after that let’s just say I didn’t stray too far from the bathroom! I finally finished up around 2 or 3 a.m.
A couple of hours later, we were up & headed to the facility across from Medical City Dallas. I was a bit nervous/apprehensive, but we got there at 7:30 a.m. for the 8:30 a.m. appointment. They got me in pretty quick, prepped me for the procedure and took me into the room. The anesthesiologist started and I was out quickly.
The procedure itself seemed to be over in no time. As I was awakening from the anesthesia, I remember they brought Dawnette to me where I was sent to recover. Dr. Burleson told me that the result of the colonoscopy was that I didn’t have hemorrhoids, but it was rectal cancer.
To be honest, all this time I had been so frustrated with myself as I thought I was simply being a wuss for not being able to handle the pain from stupid hemorrhoids. At least I knew I wasn’t being a wuss…it was something a heck of a lot more severe than just hemorrhoids!
He then told me that the cancer itself was 3 1/2 – 4″ in size (6-8+ centimeters)…the problem is that the rectum is only roughly 6 inches in size itself, so my cancer is over half the size of my rectum! Well, that explains the ridiculous pain I am in!