Saturday, 22 November 2014

Waiting and staying positive

Without a doubt the hardest part of this entire thing is the waiting. That and the internet. And the more time you have to wait, the more time there is to search the internet.

One of the first tweets I sent out after I found out I had cancer was, "Great, now WebMD is trolling me. They just DMed me 'Told you it was cancer'." This was a nod to the fact that typing almost any symptoms into the internet comes back with the result that you have some kind of debilitating or terminal illness, when, in truth, you probably have a splinter or a headache. So now imagine you HAVE one of those nasty illnesses. At this point the internet becomes an endless supply of hope and despair depending on which link you click.

When I left the hospital I went home knowing only a few things. I had a large tumor in my colon that was removed and I had two tumors on my liver. They also suspected that I had some cancer in my lymph nodes as that's the method of travel from the colon to the liver. A few days after getting home the phone rang and it was my surgeon. She had some results to give us about the tumor. Voice quaking and hands shaking I dictated to Kim what the surgeon was telling me and she hurriedly jotted down everything. The doctor told me I had what is called Adenocarcinoma. This alone was enough to make my legs go wobbly. What's hilarious is that I had no idea what Adenocarcinoma was, it just sounded SO MUCH scarier than cancer. She told us that the tumor she had removed was completely contained and that the tissue on either side of the tumor was completely clear meaning she had removed the entire thing. She had taken 45 lymph nodes from the area and all 45 came back positive for cancer.

After a quick google session we discovered that Adenocarcinoma is the cancer that occurs 95% of the time in colon cancer. This was great because that's where the bulk of research and treatment have been directed. The other 5% seem to be angry alien cancers where they throw some chemicals at you and hope to hell that they work.

So after the phone call Kim and I sat on the couch, shaking, and reviewed what we had just been told. After letting our heads clear we realized it was an awesome phone call. We found out 3 things we already knew: I had colon cancer, it was in my lymph nodes and liver and that was that. The NEW info was that I had the common cancer and that the tumor they took out was contained and completely removed. It was actually just a bunch of good news. This is the best skill we have. Seeking and finding the positive in every situation.

I get some really funny looks when I say this but I've told everyone who'll listen just how lucky I am. I understand this may seem silly but in reality I've had a string of good luck to get me to the point I'm at. Had the tumor not flopped just so and completely blocked my colon I likely would not have found this tumor in time to do anything about it. Secondly, the fact that the tumor was so large that they couldn't get the stent in forced the surgeon to take out the tumor immediately. This meant I didn't have to sit around for weeks with this thing inside of me worrying about what would come of it. I just went to sleep and woke up with a bunch of cancer taken out. That and a poop bag. I was only 10 days from competing in my 8th Ironman triathlon so from a physical fitness standpoint I couldn't be better off and geographically, I just happen to live in a city with a world class cancer centre. There are SO many people that have it worse than me.

I would be remiss if I didn't address the newspaper article and the outpouring of support I've received from former students, colleagues, hockey officials, triathletes and the community at large. In 12 days over $14,000 has been donated to a Go Fund Me account my cousin set up meaning that after my pay is reduced in February we are able to top up my pay for a further 6 months and when you're feeding 6 people on one paycheque this is absolutely amazing. Not having to stress about money and just focusing on getting healthy is the greatest gift we could receive.

The next step is a lymph node biopsy to verify that the suspicious nodes are cancerous (which I suspect they are). This will take place December 4th. From there the doctors will look at my test results and make an attack plan. I'll let you know how it goes!


  1. You are such a inspiration. Your going to kick cancers butt! We are thinking of you,Kim,and the kids. We love y'all!

  2. yup, the internet is a blessing and a curse. You will probably stop when the websites start contradicting each other, and you find the links with all the miracle cures.

    I stopped internet researching not much more than a month after my diagnosis with Bladder cancer.

    drop a line if you ever want to get together for a coffee or anything. I moved to Edmonton (due to the world class cancer center) a couple months ago. The mental game is more important than the physical - so if you ever want to chat....

  3. Keep the faith Colin! #cancercanthackett

  4. Colin, you and your family are incredible! I can't overstate what an inspiration you are. Thank you for sharing your journey. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. This great attitude amidst such challenges is a continued testament to how amazing you guys are. Love it!