My journey began in May of 2020. I had three things happen to me then, I had just purchased & closed on my condo, it's my birthday in the middle of May (19th) & was diagnosed with anal cancer. At first, I thought I was dealing with hemorrhoids for several months. I had gone to see my gastro dr & he prescribed a topical cream & anal suppositories. As it turned out, nothing helped. Finally, he sent me to another dr, (proctologist/surgeon) He did an anoscopy in his office then said I needed a biopsy under anesthesia.
A week or so later I had the biopsy & sure enough, he told me it's cancer. Apparently, my tumor was 6cm x 7 cm. Quite large is what I was told. The worst part about that was the dr has/had no manners at all, I was barely out of anesthesia & he walked by me & said "its cancer" and walked away. The recovery nurse was absolutely wonderful! She took care of me.
I was then scheduled to see an oncologist a few days later. Met with oncologist & she suggested a usual course of treatment with 6 weeks of chemotherapy along with radiation. I was able to take the oral pill for chemo. I went daily to St. Barnabas medical center for daily radiation. The radiation techs could not have been more caring & wonderful. Thank goodness.
I went on disability about 1/2 way thru my treatments. Upon receiving radiation, I apparently got "burned" both inside & out. I even went to a pain management Dr who prescribed medications such as fentanyl & morphine, in low doses and none of which helped. I also used aquaphor and again, no help. My pain was excruciating & I even thought of taking more pills than prescribed. Luckily I didn't. At times I was very constipated that the pain management dr had to give me a laxative which really didn't help either.
Towards the end of my treatment, I was invited to Robert Wood Johnson Cancer center in New Brunswick NJ for a drug trial for patients with anal cancer. They told me the drug infusions are also used for lung cancer patients & they are finding good results with anal cancer. So I was able to join this trial & do it for 6 months. Once a month I'd have to go to RWJCC to get an infusion. It did not make me sick or anything. I was even able to drive myself there but not in the first month because I didn't know if it would make me sick. So I went thru the trial for 6 months, & am feeling ok. They told me my cancer is gone but to do regular checkups, MRIs & anoscopys.
I'm very glad to be here, I have gone back to work full time & do try to enjoy each day that I'm still on this earth. It has changed a lot for me as far as how I think about a lot of things. But I'm very glad to be past this cancer journey & hope it doesn't return anywhere in my body.
Now, I'm also helping another anal cancer survivor with her journey & hope I'm serving her well. I'd also be open to helping others.
Looking for someone to talk to about your anal cancer diagnosis? We are here to help. The Peer to Peer Support Program is a free service provided by the Anal Cancer Foundation that matches anal cancer thrivers (our word for survivors) and caregivers with thriver volunteers and caregiver volunteers.