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Meet TravelBugMick...

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Happy New Year to all of our members, To start off 2022, please meet TravelBugMick and learn how he made his way through a colorectal diagnosis during a pandemic

My journey started in late November of 2020. I can’t say it has been a pleasant journey at all times but the people around me on the journey have been very supportive.


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How the Journey Started

After a colonoscopy - in a groggy state - I was informed by the doctor that I had a cancerous mass in my sigmoid colon and that a biopsy had been performed. More than anything, I remember the doctor’s mannerisms at the time; he was gentle in his delivery and his face was soft. My partner was at my side so there were two of us to absorb the shock of the day....

Rewind a bit to early October 2020 to a virtual appointment with my new family doctor (who is awesome!). Met with her to review my family history and some concerning intermittant rectal bleeding. I specifically asked about a colonoscopy. She agreed and may have ordered an urgent test as it was scheduled a short 6 weeks later. Best. Timing. Ever. And a tale of caution in listening to your body and talking to your health care team…

After meeting with my surgical oncologist in late December and undergoing a number of tests, a plan was in place in mid-January 2021. Fast! Radiation was first up in early February and then chemo started in late February. Chemo finished in July and then I had surgery in August to remove the tumour. Not sad to see that nasty little passenger gone and now preserved in some pathology facility. See ya! 

The “End” of the Journey

Early fall 2021, after pathology was confirmed, I was declared as “cancer free”. However, good news with a caveat as the adenocarcinoma was discovered to have a mutation. So, 50/50 on return I am told. Great odds if I was playing a big lottery but not great odds for avoiding a return. So, day to day. Anxiety/CT/anxiety/results/forget….then repeat! I have had my initial post-operative scan and it was clear.

The Emotions

I would say the hardest time during the journey was the beginning when there was no confirmed diagnosis/prognosis, and I was flapping in the emotional winds of “you have cancer”. Really an awful time when you can’t dial in your own best before date. A combination of fear of the unknown, sadness, and regret swirl. I did not find I was angry and while I am not religious, I fully embrace science and all that we really don’t know and that which we do. Cancer is just another biochemical/biological phenomenon that we are still trying to figure out; so it is what it is…..


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I found that my emotions while going through treatment were fairly consistent. I always had a treatment goal ahead of me and the day to day was mechanistic. There was an established schedule of activities and appointments and I just needed to make it to the finish line of each step.

In the few weeks after surgery all the regular appointments stopped so I had a tougher time with emotions and the up and down of waiting for the pathology. In the recovery ward, the surgical oncologist had explained that the tumour was attached to the peritoneum so I spent far too much time reading about that complication and arriving at my own conclusions. These concerns proved not to be valid with clean margins in the tumour but my concern was then escalated by the mutation news (as it is a type of cancer cell that is resistant to chemotherapy if it were to spread). Oh, the rollercoaster!

The One Thing….and Words of Wisdom

The one thing about this journey that was helpful to me was the understanding that most of what was happening was not in my control. So many of the aspects of life are in our control and every day we can either control these or second guess the reason they came about. I do not feel cancer is one of those in my opinion. There are certainly contributing risk factors but once cancer happens, it happens. You can only go through the treatment journey and then control your future behaviours….end of story. Don’t waste the emotional energy about why it came to be.

I received words of wisdom and advice along the way from others:

 
  • Take it day to day…don’t be future obsessed and just live with the “mini goals” of the treatment journey.
  • Talk to others about what you are going through.
  • Let the professionals help you…anyone can Google diagnose but only the treatment team has the professional knowledge…read to gain knowledge and understand the questions to ask, but leave the prognosis to your health care team.
  • Be an advocate for yourself…ask the questions so you understand.
  • Be positive. Similar to bullet one above. Stress hormones swirling in your body will not be beneficial so be as positive as possible. Enjoy the day to day.

What helped?

Along this journey I had many great supports including my partner (and our dogs), my employer, family/friends and the really awesome CancerConnections.ca community. 

My partner has also been through her own cancer journey and lost a parent to cancer when she was younger. Even with her own story, she was an amazing supporter and provided continual care and picked up all the slack when I was going through rougher patches. She was a real rock and didn’t let her own fears, as I am sure she had, override her goal of being my primary support. I am very lucky to have had this support. Our pups have been helpful in having some unconditional love upon return from the cancer centre. Our fur friends don’t care about our cancer journey, they just want to snuggle and play….just awesome.


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My direct boss and employer were very supportive along the journey and made it incredibly stress free to navigate all the treatment steps. Again, very lucky here as some may not have a similar tale. Friends and family were also incredibly supportive and helpful when the need arose. WIth the pandemic in full swing in 2021, this support was obviously limited in ways but I always had an ear when needed and on many occasions, food was delivered and in person help was provided.

The most surprising source of support for me was the CancerConnections.ca community! I came across this community while doing my own research for supports and I have been extremely happy that I joined the community. It has been a safe space to ask questions about specific issues (radiation side effects, chemo side effects and tips, and surgery preparation) and also talk about the emotional aspects of this journey. There are so many amazing people and it has been such a positive virtual space. It has really been my go to for my many “what to expect” questions. Most importantly, it has allowed connection with a large number of people going through a similar journey; this was even more important during the pandemic as the regular support programs were limited or shutdown in our community.

My Interests and Future Plans

The pandemic really impacted my love of travel. Have not been further than 300 kms from my house since the fall of 2019. As my name suggests, I am a lover of travel and have traveled extensively in North America, Europe and Asia. Still need to hit the southern hemisphere continents but I do miss seeing the travel sights and capturing moments and vistas on my camera. My bucket list includes Patagonia and western reaches of the Amazon River basin, northern Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.


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I am hoping things are stable in the “cancer free” zone to be able to travel and check off the items on the bucket list. However, is what it is, and I will take it day by day. Like all the folks on this forum….

Thank you to all the people in the CancerConnections.ca community who have been there to lend an ear, give advice and share experiences. My journey would not have been as positive without you all!

Thank you for sharing your story with us and being a valued member of the community TravelBugMick. Here's to more clear scans, paddling and traveling




Comments

Trillium
TravelBugMick‍ - Thanks so much for sharing your cancer diagnosis and all of the wonderful things you have learned through it with us. Just reading this makes me feel so not alone as I travel on with the “cancer free” diagnosis that my son was given.

He was going through all of his treatment at the same time as you at the beginning of covid. I was so caught up in testicular cancer that I did mot have the opportunity to read your posts except for recently.

I loved all of your words of wisdom you have shared with us here and want to say “thank you” for being here with us to share and support others.

May the pandemic end soon ( can you believe its still happening?) and all of your travel dreams come true.

Warm hugs for you and your partner❣️
  • Posted Sun 09 Jan 2022 09:33 PM EST
Hi Trillium‍, thank you kindly for the kind words and sharing your own journey as caregiver/support to your son. Tough thing to go through as a parent... :(

Hoping also for an end to the pandemic and an opportunity to see something other than a cancer centre...LOL Thanks also for the hugs! Right back at ya!

M.
  • Posted Mon 17 Jan 2022 09:49 PM EST
TravelBugMick
hi there,
Great share, thank you.
Thanks for tag elle29‍ I sometimes forget to check this area of the site.
I do not share your diagnosis Mick, but I did wind up with a colostomy after my tumor (primary uterus) travelled little further than it should have.
Your bucket list sounds great! I hope you tick them all off.
Sending you best wishes.
  • Posted Sun 09 Jan 2022 09:10 PM EST
Thanks Boby1511‍! Thanks on the bucket list and general wishes! I hope you are doing well on your journey...
M.
  • Posted Mon 17 Jan 2022 09:46 PM EST
What great good news 🥳 Bonjour @Travel Bud Mick ! I am going to invite 2 members Saharabee‍ and Boby1511‍ .What a god sent to connect to understand what we may go through here on CC . Such a good LD dog by my side and my daughters in helpful ways as my friends .Although I do miss my peers , a partner /mate to navigate life with and in re-creation wiser ! A kiss and a hug that’s life lighthearted like my mum being blind had , in my dad the chief cook , house manger and escort to award events while she ran a business in help to others : from the homeless to a diplomat and others widowed . Confer with professionals as equals .
‘Oh…
Glad to hear it went all smoothly from your employer to the scope and they acted immediately to do a biopsy. I wonder if u were awake in your local hospital . With your wife picking up filling the gaps Mine though a different body location and in the first few months of the pandemic . Also was just as you said with changes to the system of medical delivery too and obstructions 😜 . And went rather quick from an intial diagnosis to a short surgery to removal . Told they got it all , I was glad too have it just taken out of me and very optimistic to conquer this little cancer from adenocarcinoma a decade or so and birthed a child I believe cured moi ! From what my heart previously in short of a 5 year emmm followed up .being cancer free or so I thought.,from living life normally with a hubby , marriage and our family enjoying some canoeing and flying travel to family cottages ..
‘Then in another lifestyle of personal changes . Happy to retire here reunited near my younger grand family .Found a painful lump was that not going away of that March COVID alerts . After all the intial procedures to identify this monster that following fall . And the next month to several scans .Until December Christmas 2020 I was happy to enjoy results later .
Made all the difference having a professional experienced Primary Onco who more then consulted but nmodelled his compassion. I also was blessed ! To… Have a wonderful tender and empathetic spoken Oncologist made all the difference to hear his assessment and timeline prognosis to challenge this further in another diagnosis . That is less favourable , except the encouragement from him that “ we hope you live longer ! “
Celebrate you have been given an all clear to live your life cancer free . While others with cancer in similar location told to wear an Osteo bag and still have a tumour that cannot be removed .Unlike you there is a courageous group of men and women , here on CC . That will not accept “it is what it is !” And whom also share this uncurable Metatastic cancer. We call Mets stage 4 .. Whom tell their physicians they encounter , they prefer to have and look for “a cure approach “ instead , not just survival . To the point of researching more to insist and tell their Oncologist they want to be treated ! To the event their positivity goes further, with their their Oncologist The VOICE is Collectively strong allow some Physicians follow the protocol only and others look for cure treatments to eroding the cancers spread . So we hope you continue on in paddling your own canoe with blessed supports .! And keep us abreast on a vlog of your adventures with your partner in the wake of further smooth waters where ever you go . Keep on in an even keel in strength ! Elle27
  • Posted Sat 08 Jan 2022 01:41 AM EST
Thanks elle29‍! You have had quite the journey and I am impressed by your activity here on this site and your positivity in general. I will take your advice to maintain an "even keel"! LOL. M.
  • Posted Mon 10 Jan 2022 05:24 PM EST
Hey TravelBugMick‍, thank you for sharing your story. We can learn so much about people with just a few paragraphs. I love reading about people that have great support like you and I do. It means so much to know you have people, close and from afar, looking out for you and helping in any way they can through our journey.

Thank you for all your kind and supportive words to me and to so many other people.

Wishing you and your family nothing but the very best.

Cheers!

Roy

#peacelovecure
  • Posted Thu 06 Jan 2022 03:44 PM EST
Here, here Roy L.‍, you are an awesome presence on this site and such a positive force! You have inspired me in my wanders through this virtual community! Same to you on well wishes and I hope your current chemo journey is going well...M.
  • Posted Mon 10 Jan 2022 05:21 PM EST
TravelBugMick‍ Thanks so much for sharing your story. I really identified with part of the emotional aspects that you shared. Although my breast cancer diagnosis was nearly 11 years ago, I still remember the feeling of chaos that I felt before I had a treatment plan. Its quite the emotional roller coaster trying to determine "what" you will battle and another thing to know "how" you will battle it. I also remember that I was more depressed when my treatments were done than while my treatments were taking place. Like you, the loss of the routine associated with treatments made me feel like I was in a chaotic state again. It took a while to adjust, but I'm doing well other than the anxiety that comes with each precautionary scan. I love how you have told your story and all the pictures that you have included.

cancertakesflight
  • Posted Thu 06 Jan 2022 05:10 AM EST
Thanks cancertakesflight‍! And yes, the "in treatment" part of the journey was so much easier emotionally....thanks for the kind words and I hear you on the scanxiety! Ugh.
M.
  • Posted Mon 10 Jan 2022 05:19 PM EST

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