There has been a lot that we’ve learned on this journey, that I wish we would have known sooner. Because of that, I wanted to share a few things that (heaven, forbid) might help someone in a similar situation.
- Have someone who either is a general oncology surgeon OR a surgeon whose training is specific to the area where a tumor or tumors are being removed.
Unfortunately we did not do this. Due to the swift nature of how everything happened, and our lack of knowledge about the pros and cons, we went with a surgeon who had some experience, but not enough.
Why does this matter?
Because dad’s surgeon didn’t know where the tumor was (despite being the one to actually find it in the colonoscopy so…). Because of this, he ended up slicing through the tumor. When he told us this we were all, “Oh, okay. At least you found it”. NO.
Turns out, slicing through the tumor dramatically increases your chance of recurring cancer in that area.
It is what it is, but just be aware – in the awful case that you will ever need that knowledge.
- Make sure you have the nursing staff and doctors teach you how to treat your wounds and take care of yourself before leaving the hospital.
Unfortunately NO ONE at the hospital taught my dad how to take care of his various wounds – including his ostomy – at the hospital. They all said “Oh, home health will teach you”. Guess what? Home health didn’t know how to handle the ostomy!
You must insist that they teach you during your stay, because they are at your disposal while you’re there. Once you leave it is incredibly harder to get help from knowledgeable staff.
- Make sure that family has support systems too.
It has been really hard not being near my family during this time. I have my husband, Matt, but it’s important that you have people that you can lean on for love and support. ‘Cause it’s hard. And you really do find out who your friends are – and they know that you would do anything for them in return.
- Don’t let your trial be your life’s sole focus.
This is a hard one to do sometimes, especially on the bad days. It can be hard to remember that other people are going through things too. It’s important to still love and serve those people too – they still need you.
I hope that no one ever has to experience cancer or other debilitating illnesses or trials. But it happens. And I promise you, we will be there for you, too. One Team, One Fight.