I am 7 weeks post peritonectomy today. My oncologist reported they have found no evidence of cancer, and at this stage (to be confirmed at an appointment later this week) they are not proposing chemo. The peritonectomy was the result of a ruptured appendix - the pathology revealed a tumour adjacent(?) to my appendix, the original surgeon believed they had removed a sufficient margin around the tumour for it to be ok, but referred me for a 2nd opinion as appendix cancer is so rare. The 2nd opinion came from one of the few surgeons in Aus who performs peritonectomies, and he described the surgery as 'throwing the kitchen sink at it'. During surgery they removed my ovaries and fallopian tubes, lymph nodes, peritoneum, part of my large bowel and omentum, plus applying the warm chemo bath. My gall bladder had been removed 15 years previously, and obviously my appendix had also gone. I was in hospital for 9 days. The surgery and physical recovery has been ok - I was fortunate not to need a stoma - but the management of my treatment was slightly haphazard and this was a source of significant anxiety for me. I was getting mixed messages from lots of different sources - from the surgeon initally saying 'this is completely curable' to his nurse coordinator handing me a booklet that said I would have a 40/50% survival rate at 5 years post peritonectomy; from my surgeon telling me the day after surgery that if he hadn't operated 'you would have been dead in 12 months' to the oncologist saying 'there is no evidence of cancer'. So - the upshot is that my physical recovery has been okay, but my mental/emotional recovery is a different matter. I am living with a level of fear and anxiety that I have never before experienced; nothing can calm me, and I am barely functioning. For the record, this is quite out of character for me - I have always been resilient and weathered significant life challenges in the past. At this stage I am desperate to find out whether this emotional state is temporary - maybe even just common post surgery blues - or if I will have to learn to live like this. For me the care plan is a colonoscopy every year and a CT scan + blood tests every 6 months for 2 years, then shift to CT scan annually until I (hopefully) hit the 5 year mark and am officially 'cured'.
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.