January 2017, a call that rocked our family.
We’d just celebrated the much anticipated birth of our niece. New Years was over and my husband and I were both squabbling over something stupid when his twin brother (who just became a father) called.
“They told him he has appendicitis”, my husband says. He’d been violently ill the week following. Vomiting with a severe pain in his side. He’d gone to a Medical Center and was awaiting scans for the results and most likely was going to be admitted to hospital for an appendectomy. Appendicitis seemed like the correct diagnosis.
Little did we know that once the results were in, his brother would be calling back to go to hospital but not for what we initially thought. He’d say that he had a tumor on his appendix.
I remember the moment my husband received the second call from him. We looked at each other like we’d lost all understanding of the word.
From there his case was referred to Professor Morris of the Peritonectomy Unit and told he had a rare form of cancer that grew from a polyp inside his appendix. The contents of the sack had ruptured and caused all the pain and infection. Unfortunately , this cancer is found by accident in much cases like my brother in laws.
However the journey had now began for him.
He endured a 7-8 hour surgery where they opened him from breast bone to pubic bone. Upon initial inspection the tumor, slow growing by diagnosis, had grown to much more larger than expected. They removed his gall bladder, part of his colon, appendix and tumor. Once they cleaned and stripped the abdominal lining the Cytoreductive Surgery (HIPEC) or chemotherapy bath was administered to kill any cancer cells that had burst into the abdominal cavity. His days after surgery followed in recovery in an induced coma in ICU where he was given chemotherapy for 5 days.
The aftermath of the surgery meant he spent over 1 month in hospital recovering and after, suffered with infections all further delaying the 12 month chemotherapy he was told he needed after the surgery.
Through instruction of the Professor, then began the process of checking that my husband, his identical twin did not have the same condition. Ultrasounds and a CT Scan would show my husband had a thickening at the center of his appendix. Strange it seemed. Too strange for our GP and she insisted he have an appendectomy.
Following his appendectomy, the biopsy results returned. A polyp. It was, much like his brothers slowly(?) growing.
It’s the age old question that leads medical practitioners, professors, scientists and researchers of the like. What causes cancer? We know his brother must have had this tumor growing for years as they said it was, although somewhat unpredictable, slow growing.
Cancer has effected our family far too many times. With this post, I hope to bring awareness to this rare form of cancer. By no means is it less or more horrible than any other cancer diagnoses, simply it is not heard about enough.
Symptoms to look out for include but not limited to;
- gradual increase in waist size
- a hernia
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight gain
- tummy pain
- changes in bowel habits
For our family, this means constant monitoring through colonoscopies. Our children and future children will also need to be checked regularly.
I call 2017 the, ‘Psycho Year’ and boy was it. I never want to step foot into a hospital again, unless of course it’s for the birth of children.