Mom is stage 2 cancer. She has a small tumor in her rectum that she is getting radiation and chemo treatment for. They want to operate on her and the doctors said she will be cancer free, however she will need to wear a colostomy bag. She refuses to ever wear a bag. Our grandfather committed suicide because he had one and felt humiliated. But I assured her that even with my friend who has it (she's in her 40's) --- she lives a very productive and fulfilling life. It's not debilitating in the least. She still refuses. She'd rather let the cancer grow. I know it's not "my" choice - but I'm sad over her unwillingness to be cancer free. Are there any respectful steps I can take to convince her otherwise? If she doesn't get this operation after the radiation and chemo shrinks the tumor, she won't live long.


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Thank you for your input. The colostomy bag would definitely be permanent. This is what the doctor said. The idea of having my friend (who is actually an old coworker) of mine to come over and share her story sounds PERFECT, but we haven't seen one another in a few years (except on Facebook, etc.) and I feel awkward about just having her here to explain her situation. I'm still on the fence with that because that is a great idea.

The only other option is after her 25th week of chemo and radiation, she can go to a hospital in Philly where they can insert a tube where the tumor is and zap it on target with chemo, which has a high success rate.

We've had plenty of "opinions", and the last one was from Sloan Kettering. I mean, that's one of the best places to get an opinion if you're gonna get one - that was our second opinion actually.

So long story short: if she doesn't go for this operation, she either just finishes an extra 10 weeks of radiation to prolong her life a few years, or she goes to Philly to get the chemo blast.

A friend of ours brought over some sort of cancer fighting serum from China (Chinese medicine) and said that people have been cured from this alone. I'm really not into these holistic remedies when it comes to such a deadly disease, but she's taking it like a champ.

I guess it's not my decision, but I hope she realizes that this is totally curable cancer - the doctor said he would bet anything that she would be cancer-free if she opts for the surgery.


I guess at this point, I'm just venting.
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It has been accepted for decades that surgical therapy is essential for cure of rectal cancer. However, as with other tumor types, studies have demonstrated that a small percentage of patients can be cured with primary radiation therapy (RT). These early studies treated patients who refused surgical resection (most often because of nonacceptance of colostomy) or who could not undergo resection secondary to comorbid medical conditions. Surgical resection carries significant acute morbidity as well as substantial long-term alteration of bowel function (especially for low-lying tumors), so minimizing surgery has the potential to benefit patients significantly.

Perhaps the largest such series, from the Princess Margaret Hospital (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), demonstrated a 5-year actuarial survival of 27% (48% for mobile tumors).1 Not surprisingly, the Princess Margaret Hospital series showed better local control and survival rates for patients with less locally advanced disease. Interestingly, patients in this series who had clinical complete remissions were noted to achieve those remissions slowly (often at 4 to 8 months), suggesting that our current paradigm of waiting only 6 weeks after radiation therapy to proceed to surgery may underestimate the true benefits of RT. Several other studies have also demonstrated that longer periods between RT and surgery lead to higher rates of pathologic complete response (pCR), an observation that lends support to the concept of an approach with delayed or omitted surgery.
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Boogs, I know it is her decision, but I would keep working at her. Perhaps it would help if the doctor explained the stages of rectal cancer to her. I don't blame her for not wanting to wear the bag. I had a friend who had one, though, and he lived a very good life. I'm sure it was inconvenient sometimes, but he never complained about it. He was always just happy with each day he was given. Gosh, I miss that guy. He was a true angel... with a colostomy bag.
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TheBoogs, find out if the colostomy is temporary, as sometimes the colostomy is needed only until the rectum has healed, and then it can be reversed.... if that is the case, maybe your Mom could deal with it knowing it won't be permanent.
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This is very sad for you. I am truly sorry you are in this situation. It is your mother's decision, of course.

Since you know someone with a colostomy bag, I wonder if Mother talking to her would help? At least it would provide more information as she makes a decision. The friend could tell her about her life now and answer questions. That might be more effective than you just telling Mom about her.
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