Hi DF. Hope you get this. Not certain whether Carole is still in contact with this particular thread, but if it helps, ( and in plain layman terms) I can let you know how I went as I've also just gone through treatment for rectal cancer, (got it three years ago) although I skipped radiotherapy and only received chemotherapy.
I was supposed to have had a couple of weeks of radium treatment it, but it never happened so in my situation, I can only comment on the chemo treatment.
But let's face it - there’s no point in pulling any punches - you're going to enter a different world; one where your lifestyle is wrapped up in visits to a hospital from the moment you're diagnosed until you’re declared clear. This could take a long time ( some years) and if you want to give yourself the best chance of coming through it all, you'll likely need to need to change your diet somewhat as well!
From my own experience, I found getting used to eating healthy the hardest thing to accomplish - so as far as I was concerned the rest of the procedure was a pip.
Radium is a bit different though. If you have to have it, then I believe you'll have a bit more to cope with as far as feeling seedy and unwell after treatment is concerned - but others I've seen having it seem to come through okay. It'll depend upon your own character I think.
Visits to the hospital to have radiotherapy will also eat up a big part of the day and the week in most cases, so take along a good book, or as I found when having my treatment, an iPad to play card games and such.
I’ve known some patients to have only injections in their backside for their particular cancer and in these cases, their treatment only took a few moments; the main hold up (perhaps an hour or so) being as they waited for a doctor to have a chat to them and to advise them of the current situation, which seems to be the norm for every patient regardless of their particular brand of cancer.
As for myself and for a great many others I’ve known, the treatment consisted of having a ‘PIC’ (Peripheral Intravenous Catheter) about30 cm long inserted into a vein in my left upper arm which allows the chemo substance to be inserted directly into the blood stream each time you go in for treatment. The PIC and the area surrounding it is thoroughly cleaned each time you visit the hospital and once this is done, it’ll take another half hour or so to receive the ‘medicine’. Once this is completed you are free to go. In all, I used to count on about three hours per session, each week. The PIC can be a nuisance. Being on the outside of your arm and rather bulky, it always seems to get in the way - particularly when showering or dressing.
Having a PIC inserted is interesting to say the least, but is painless apart from the initial prick of the numbing injection. Once the last chemo treatment had concluded 26 weeks later after the first, the PIC was instantly removed - simply pulled out while you watched - no pain associated with it at all - incredible!
As indicated, my chemo treatment lasted 26 weeks and you’ll likely require you to have MRI scans done every so often (every three months in my case) to ascertain how the treatment is progressing. Get ready for more needles etc.
Once my chemo had finished, I waited for several weeks to have another scan and was told that this scan had indicted the cancer had appeared to have metastasized and had moved to my stomach and lungs!
Arrangements were made to proceed with further chemo treatment (radium down the road was considered) and to this end I was given a choice of having another PIC inserted or alternatively a Port-a-Cath! A port-a-cath is considered more hygienic than the PIC so I went for that and it was inserted under the skin, in my chest, near my right shoulder. If you are given the choice, and after having both, this is the way I would go. This was done under general aesthetic, so another day in hospital.
You will also hear of a ‘Pump’ being used.
I have no idea as to how this operates or what it entails, but from all accounts it too is a method of delivering chemo treatments. One chap I was speaking with who had one, said it was the best method of having treatment delivered. I think it depends upon the type of treatment you might need, how much you need, coupled with the most efficient way of delivering it. A pump might be the best solution for anyone who requires treatment over a constant and very long time period, but you’d need advice on this from the experts.
In conclusion, after the op to insert the Port-a-cath and a scan at three months to determine the cancer’s progress, I received the good news that the cancer was not progressing as expected and after an additional scan three months on from the last one, I’m now informed that the noted cancers in the lungs and stomach have all disappeared! I’m now considered cancer free - at least for the time being and the Port-a-cath seems likely to have been made redundant before I had the chance to use it..... I hope so.
Hope this helps .... I know it’s a bit long. Good luck
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