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Meet Russell

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Spring has sprung and it's time to introduce everyone to another member of the community. Meet Russell, better known on the community as Fergies and learn more about his journey with colorectal cancer.
 
 
In October 2015, I was at a routine doctor’s appointment to discuss the results of some routine blood work. The results of the blood test threw up red flags for my family doctor, due to readings of low hemoglobin and low iron. I didn’t feel any symptoms to suggest that there was anything wrong, but we both felt further investigation was warranted. 


In late December, 2015, I saw a Gastroenterologist. We decided to start investigations with a gastroscopy since I was experiencing heartburn for a while, and decades before, had suffered a bacterial infection that mimicked a stomach ulcer. In January of 2016, the gastroscopy procedure was performed but this test did not reveal anything that would shed light on why I was losing blood from my system. The next step was to have a colonoscopy. Within 8 days, this test was completed and it revealed a growth in my ascending colon that was suspicious. A biopsy was taken and sent to the lab for analysis and my Gastroenterologist informed me during the exam that she was fairly certain that the tumor was cancer.


 
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In late January, 2016, results from the biopsy confirmed that I actually did have Colorectal Cancer. The tumor would have to be removed and I would be referred to a surgeon. My initial thoughts were “how could this be”? I have always tried to live a healthy lifestyle, and have also taken steps to prevent the potential for colon cancer!” Not even three years previous, I had decided to have a colonoscopy at the request of my family doctor. They found only one small benign polyp and told me that I would be good for 10 years before needing another similar procedure. Now, 3 years later, I have a full blown cancerous tumor.


I met with the surgeon and the operation was scheduled for mid-March, 2016. They performed a right hemi-colectomy and removed approximately 30% of my Colon and 19 Lymph Nodes. I spent 8 days in hospital and had only one inconvenient set back, otherwise I would have been home, recovering, sooner. The hospital care was phenomenal, and I cannot stress enough now impressed and awed I am with the compassionate care of our medical community. The inconvenient setback during my hospital recovery was when the urinary catheter was removed and some swelling around my bladder prevented me from passing urine. Inserting a new urinary catheter did not go well for the nursing staff therefore an expert from the surgery department had to be called in to get that done. A few days later, the catheter was removed again and all was well. Due to the lack of appetite, I lost 20 lbs. after surgery.


The 19 lymph nodes that were sent to the lab for analysis revealed that 9 lymph nodes were affected by the cancer. I was told that there was a 55% chance that I am cancer free if I do nothing else, which means there was a 45% chance that the cancer could re-occur. If I agreed to chemotherapy treatments, it could cut that number in half, to 22.5% chance of cancer re-occurrence.


I agreed to decrease the chance of cancer re-occurrence by taking the chemotherapy. My chemotherapy regime was to be 12 treatments over 6 months, which would be one treatment, every other week. From May 2016 through October 2016, I received FolFox chemotherapy treatments. The side effects that I experienced included; cold sensitivity of the hands and mouth, jaw pain with the first bite of each meal, constipation, neuropathy of the fingers and feet and joint weakness and pain.


 
 
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My recovery at home was uneventful. The Love and support from my family, friends and community was unimaginable. I received financial assistance by way of a “GoMeFund” event, a gospel concert and dance fundraiser and the Charlotte County Cancer Society, as well as from my immediate family.


After the chemotherapy treatments were finished, I had to wait 3 months to know the status of my cancer situation. With all of the trips to Oncology done, I felt like I was no longer doing anything to prevent the cancer from returning. I began to worry and the wait for my 3 month check-up seemed so long. Finally, in January of 2017, I had blood-work, a CT-scan and a colonoscopy, with the results of “all clear”!


Also in January 2017, I decided to start the New Year off right by returning to my work. Even with my return to normal life, I still had a fear of cancer re-occurrence and that I should be doing something to better my chances of preventing any return of cancer. My oncology  doctor informed me of a clinical trial that I could be considered for. The clinical trial was including survivors of Stage II and Stage III Colorectal Cancer. The rational of this study is: Participating in a physical activity program designed to increase free time physical activity and receiving written health education materials may influence the chance of cancer recurring as well as impact on physical fitness, psychological well-being and the quality of life of patients who have undergone surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer. It is not yet known whether giving a physical activity program together with health education materials is more effective than giving health education materials alone for patients who have undergone colon cancer treatments.


I am currently waiting for my 6 month check up at the end of May.
 

 
Thank you Russell for sharing your journey with us. Best of luck to you at the end of the month with your follow up. If other members are interested in being featured in our 'Meet your Neighbour' piece please contact Lacey_adminCCS.

 




Comments

Hi Russell my husband had colon cancer he died 10 year's ago I sure miss him alot
  • Posted Sat 07 Oct 2017 04:12 PM EDT
Thanks for the story of your journey Russell. I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in late 2012. Radiation, Chemo. and Surgery. One year later they found Metastesis in liver and resected that with Laparascopic Surgery. Later that year cancer Metastesized to my lungs. Several doses of chemo., off and on, for three years. My body could not take chemo anymore and I opted for Thoroscopic Lung Surgery. In March, 2016 lower lobe of my right lung was resected. Three months later they found few more nodules in the left lung and I had 12 rounds of Targetted Radiation (LINAC) in August, 2016. Encouraging follow up in March, 2017. Next CT is in a week followed by visit with Surgical Radiologist. Hoping to hear the outcome! Thank you all for reading the story of my journey. WISH YOU ALL THE BEST.
  • Posted Sat 10 Jun 2017 08:19 PM EDT
Thank you for sharing the story of your journey.  Your family doctor was very astute in getting the ball rolling, and you for following through.  Congrats, Russell!  You're an inspiration! :)  

Btw, I have siblings in New Brunswick (Hampton).  It certainly is a beautiful province!  Hope to get back to visit when my rads are done and I am finally returning to work.  Can't leave home (Ontario) on STD or LTD (per contract).
  • Posted Sun 04 Jun 2017 04:59 PM EDT
Thanks you so much for sharing.  My husband has just gotten the diagnosis of colorectal cancer and is going for further testing this week.  It is reassuring to see that you can get to the other side of this.  The anxiety is difficult.  Thank you again.  
  • Posted Sun 04 Jun 2017 03:10 PM EDT
Thanks for sharing your story Russell..there are many aspects of your story that I can certainly relate to.  I've been off of chemo for a year and three months now, and I can tell you that coping with the time in between the updates does get easier.  The clinical trial sounds really interesting.  Wishing you all the best at your next update at the end of the month.
  • Posted Wed 10 May 2017 11:14 AM EDT

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