What ? What did you say ?

One morning in March 2017, I surprisingly noticed blood in my stool. I had an appointment with a doctor who reassured me by saying: "these are only hemorrhoids." At first, I trusted him, but a few days later, I had some doubts. I went back for an examination, but to a private clinic this time. Without a family doctor, we want to be reassured that we should trust the system. I asked my boyfriend to accompany me. The doctor on call examined me and told me not to worry. He told me I had hemorrhoids and that 50% of people my age have some. Well!

Like many people, I did my own research on the internet and frighteningly recognized the symptoms of rectal cancer. With no success, I tried to reason with myself. I decided to take an appointment with a surgeon who treats hemorrhoids since I was told I had hemorrhoids. Three weeks later, that surgeon examined me and stopped his examination to tell me that he didn’t like what he was feeling and he would refer me to his colleague for an emergency colonoscopy. I felt like I was watching a B movie that was starring very bad actors and I was afraid.

In the same week, I met the 2nd surgeon. He was calm, smiling and kind. After his examination, he announced to me I had rectal cancer. What? I saw my boyfriend looking at the surgeon, but I didn’t understand what was being said anymore… I heard the word "cancer" and I realized that my life changed on that rainy Thursday in May.

-          Am I going to die?

-          We will first complete all exams, but I will have to operate on you and you might have an ostomy.

-          Oh... an ostomy, what is an ostomy?

For the first time in my life, I realised how it felt to be afraid of dying. on the drive back, screaming and crying. In my bed that evening, Ativan.

And thus, this adventure for which I wasn’t at all prepared began.

Radiation treatments were prescribed to me for the six weeks preceding my surgery. Being in good physical shape, I prepared myself like for a marathon. Every day, I climbed the hills of Old Quebec before my radiation treatment. I swear I was in all the pictures tourists took that summer! The war was declared, I had been parachuted into hostile land and faced the enemy. I was unarmed, but confident.

The summer passed and I finally had my surgery on September 12th, 2017. The Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy and Continence (NSWOC) placed marks on me on the day before surgery. When she showed me a rubber ostomy, I said out loud "it looks like a jujube!" When she made her red “X” on my belly, I cried. I guess I now realised everything that was waiting for me.

I went alone to the operating room, no stretcher for me! I wanted to control everything I could about the situation. Direct elevator to the operating room, 3rd floor... I still had time to run away, but went through ahead anyway. I was finally operated on and got rid of this shitty cancer. One thing is sure, nobody will ever tell me I have hemorrhoids. I came home with this strange thing on my belly. Ok... a jujube. Well, I'm alive!

Bring ostomy wafers but please help me to install them properly because I'm completely overwhelmed. A week after having returned home, I was back in hospital for 22 days due to a perineal wound dehiscence. For three times, they had to install a Vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) over the area of the wound to accelerate its healing by avoiding infection. My biggest fear was to lose strength, so I walked about five kilometers a day in the hallways of the hospital. Nurses and attendants were joking and telling me I would run for sure the day after! I will permanently be attached to my ostomy, but I was always as confident and combative, even if I was tired.


Alone in my room, I was enjoying the Life Savers my boyfriend had supplied me with when I had a revelation: my ostomy is a red Life Saver. The name was taking all its sense and I was happy about this, but mostly about the fact I was still alive thanks to that Life Saver on my belly.


Brought to you by : ANA