As we approach NET Cancer Day, my thoughts return to this time 5 years ago (9 Nov 2010). I had been diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer a few months before and told it was incurable. However, with ‘debulking’ surgery, my Oncologist said my prognosis could be significantly improved. I now know from my own research that Neuroendocrine Tumours are one of a small number of cancers for which surgical debulking confers some survival advantage. Another term used at the time was ‘cytoreductive’ surgery which means ‘to control symptoms and improve survival by removing or destroying disseminated tumour metastases’. Less neuroendocrine tumours should result in lower secretions of specific hormones which in turn should decrease the effects of Carcinoid Syndrome from which I was suffering at presentation. Five years on, I’m alive and kicking and don’t feel too bad at all!
The 9 hour operation was planned to debulk what was described as “extensive intra-abdominal neuroendocrine disease” and was first of a number of visits to an operating theatre. The surgeon removed 3 feet of small intestine at the terminal ilium plus a right hemicolectomy, a mesenteric root dissection taking out the nodes on the superior mesenteric artery and a mesenteric vein reconstruction. With the assistance of a vascular surgeon, my NET surgeon also dissected out a dense fibrotic retro-peritoneal reaction which had encircled my aorta and cava (almost occluding the latter). This was a risky procedure but 270º clearance was achieved. Although it was known I also had liver metastases and some distant ‘hotspots’, those were to be tackled at a later stage.
I left the hospital some 19 days later and was delicate for some weeks after that. I don’t recall what the plans were for Christmas Day that year but everything was changed so that it could be hosted at home organised by my ‘right-hand’ woman – Chris. It was a good plan, as I just wouldn’t have been able to go elsewhere and it was the best gift I could hope for that year. My 3 grandsons (I have 4 now !) were under strict orders not to jump on me – I had a 12 inch north to south wound still healing! However, I suspect the youngest who was not yet 2 years old at the time, didn’t really understand 🙂 I do have priceless grandchildren!
Not long after the present exchanging and the meal, I was so exhausted that I laid down and fell asleep immediately as a hint that I should be left alone for a bit! I thoroughly enjoyed the day and it functioned as a medicine along with the many others I was taking at the time. The whole day reminded me that I have a lot to live for, so I’m thankful for the surgery.
thank you for reading.