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Cancer Treatment in France


Grecian
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One step at a time, Grecian, and, as you say, there is the Bordeaux chap to see.

It's good that you have this offer of a second opinion.  Whatever type of op you end up with, you'd know at least that it will be the best option, all things considered.

Your wife is very fortunate to have such a considerate and caring husband.

Like others here on your thread, I wish you all the very best.

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Thank you all for your advice and best wishes, really apreciated.

Norman thanks for trying to put the prospect of a stoma into perspective for me, I know you needed two operations for bowel cancer, as the first one did not take out all the cancer, so yes maybe the 'belt and braces' removal is the route to go down, to be as sure as one can be regarding trying to eliminate all the cancer cells.

Having thought about the situation over the last 24 hours or so, I know mentally I must not lose it, or everything will unravel so I think I am as prepared as I can be for the possibility of a permanent stoma. Saying that I am not happy with the situation that the surgeon at Bressuire is proposing a life changing operation based on a rectal examination with his finger. I can appreciate that he presumably knows what he is feeling but to my mind I really want another MRI scan or echo rectoscopy, which out of all the scans and probes I had seemed to show the most information and size of the tumour. I will wait and see what the surgeon at Bressuire says to me on Tuesday after he has spoken to the specialist at Bordeaux, who I would have thought would  certainly want to see a scan of the present situation of the tumour. I will try and get an appointment with my own doctor before Tuesday afternoon and share my concerns with him and see what he has to say on the situation.

I have been in contact with a guy who lives about 30 kms from me for the last 3 months or so, who has been through the same situation as myself, although I think his tumour was a lot worse than mine, as it had grown into the muscle and wrapped itself around one of the organs down there. He had all his treatment at Poitiers including his operation, and he has ended up with a permanent stoma, a while back when I became aware that he had a stoma fitted, which I did not know initially he said to me 3 years on after it was fitted, he takes little notice of it. Last night I had a long telephone conversation with him, discussing all the unsavioury aspects of the situation, and I must say I feel a little down today after the conversation. I have tried to be realistic throughout the whole 'experience' so knowing exactly what to expect I guess I needed to know.

My mother-in-law had a stoma fitted some 15 years ago now, and at the grand old age of 88 now has taken the whole things in her stride, I will have a chat with her if the permanent stoma is confirmed, perhaps she will be able to talk me up a little. Contrasting that when I told my 86 year old mum Tuesday night, she started freaking out, I had to bring her back inline quite quickly which she did, I have tried to warm her of the possibility throughout the whole situation. I think she thought as the tumour had been caught quite early, I think it is stage 2, although nobody has told me, I only saw that the surgeon wrote on his notes T3N0M0, and after researching I discovered this to be stage 2, she thought everything would all be sorted and I would soon be back to normal.

Must admit on one hand I do feel slightly cheated that for such a relative small and early stage cancer it seems a big price to pay, but then on the other hand hopefully it is curable and life will continue in some shape or form. So must take whatever life throws at me and just get on with it. My wife certainly has had to adopt this way of thinking after everything that has been dumped on her.

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You seem to have the right attitude anyway. Yes I agree to go with any number of opinions so that you can judge the bottom line. Having said that you do seem to be prepared that if the final opinion is a permanent stoma then so be it! As you've said the main thing is that you continue to live and to live with some quality of life. If the same thing happened to me I just hope that I could stay as strong as you. Take care and good luck.
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Hey you, don't feel cheated, even slightly. We get what life throws at us and these days we are given choices that can save our lives.  It has never been better for anyone with a cancer.

I know two people with stomas and I didn't know until I was told. And it could have been my husband too in his twenties, but that is a long story.

Good luck with your treatment.

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Well I am off to Bordeaux next Tuesday to see a top surgeon in France who specializes in saving the sphincter in people who have very low rectal tumours. I saw the surgeon in Bressuire this afternoon who has arranged the appointment for me, I must say that I certainly judged him wrongly on my first appointment with him, he has turned out to be a very nice and considerate man, who to be fair has really put himself out to try and assist me. He told me that if an operation is possible, it will depend on what they find when they have carried out a biopsy on what they remove, which I was aware of, to see if any further chemo will be necessary. If any further chemo is required then that will be administered at Bressuire, which is really good news.

A fellow member of the forum kindly sent me a private e-mail saying that he has had the same operation with the surgeon at Bordeaux, and although it was a long slog back to a full recovery, has no regrets in going for the operation. This has reassured me that it has to be worthwhile exploring the option, as I really do want a permanent stoma if at all possible. If the guy at Bordeaux tells me that it is not possible, then so be it, at least I will have tried, and will have explored all options, I will then accept my lot, and get on with life. I found a video made by the surgeon and it seems he does things totally different, instead of joining the two pieces back together after the tumour has been cut out, with the tumour being very low he  cuts the whole diseased piece out, then pulls down a fresh bit of tube[:-))] and then proceeds to stitch this bit back into the bowel. I will then have a temporary stoma for 3 months, which hopefully will then be reversed. The operation that I watched stated that the tumour was only 1 cm up in the rectum, so I would not think you could get them much lower.

I am not sure if I would have been accepted by the surgeon in Bordeaux considering the distance I live from Bordeaux, but the surgeon at Bressuire came from Bordeaux hospital and is friendly with the surgeon, so maybe he has pulled a few strings to get me in, if this is the case then I am extremely greatful. Unfortunately the hospital is too far away to be able to use the ambulance taxis, the limit is 150 kms. We will be going to Bordeaux by train, we booked the tickets this afternoon and will stay two nights in Bordeaux, somewhere we have never been before, so a nice break come what may.

So all in all a bit happier today, at least I will have had a second opinion and if it is still not possible I can have confidence that as medical science stands at the moment there is nothing else that can be done.

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[quote user="Grecian"]Well I am off to Bordeaux next Tuesday to see a top surgeon in France who specializes in saving the sphincter

[/quote]

That's got to look good on your C.V. I didn't know they were endangered [:D]

The good thing if there can be, is the bowel can as you say be pulled round and joined back together, can't do that with most other organs so be grateful for our lot.

fingers crossed for your trip and outcome

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Good man, Grecian!

Now that you are happy with your chap in Bressuire and, as you say, you will be seeing the top specialist in Bordeaux, that in itself, is a very good outcome so far, isn't it?

The centre of Bordeaux is beautiful and so I hope you and Mrs G gets a chance to have a look around.

Oh, and BEST of LUck, with your consultation![:D] (take that as a big, encouraging sort of a smile, please)

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Well Thunderbirds are go...

After seeing the specialist at Bordeaux on Tuesday, he informed me that the operation to save the sphincter is possible and I have been booked in for an operation on 17th March, gulp. Must say the specialist is a very nice man, we were in his office for an hour whilst he explained everything to us, he told me at the beginning of the consultation that he would read all the notes, study the MRI scan and then, yes you guessed it the old finger up the bum routine. After his rectal examination he proceeded to show me on a diagram of the digestive system and rectum what the size of the tumour was originally, and what it is now, he only used a black felt tip pen and I guess it was not fully to scale, but it seems that it has shrunk to about a quarter of what it was, still unfortunately too low for a conventional resection operation.

He informed me that the whole bowel will be removed, and my colon will be pulled down to form a new bowel, not sure I like the sound of that, but at least hopefully things will still work to some sort of new normal. He explained all the potential problems that could arise, and said if all goes to plan the operation will be performed by keyhole surgery, and should last about 4 hours. If it cannot be performed by keyhole surgery then the operation will be a lot longer. He said barring any complications the hospital stay will be about a week.

Must say he seemed really upbeat on my prospects, which I guess he would not have said if things looked a bit dodgy, he even said well you are young, not sure I would class 58 as young but there you go.

So things are in place, the date is set, now just a case of getting through it all. I have decided that I cannot have my wife stay for a week of more in a hotel, eating at irregular hours, and not knowing where to eat, as it would totally mess up her control, and could induce too many hypos, which I would not be there to sort out. Not happy at leaving her alone for a week or more at home, but after weighting up to two options I think it is the lesser of the two evils. Also a strange bed for a week or more could totally screw her up, and have her in all sorts of problems. Hopefully we can both get through the whole situation OK.

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Well that's good news Grecian,  a big step Butt (see what I did there) you are in safe hands by the sound of it, He's bound to be nice as he spends his life with ars........... No no no that's enough of that! 

Wishing you a successful op Grecian and will you be online after the op or will we wait a week?  Any chance family or friends could help with your wife as it will be  a strain on her too?

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That is good news Grecian. Hopefully your wife will be OK for the week and you are able to focus on yourself getting better.

As Théiére mentioned hope you will be able to update us after the op, if not will be thinking about you over the week.
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I don't want to be a downer since that is the last thing you need at the moment, but being realistic you will be far from on top form when you get home.

I am a bit older than you and probably in much worse physical shape, but I needed a month in hospital and 2 months convalescence. I was in intensive care for 3 days after the op.

The operation I had started as keyhole but had to continue otherwise and lasted 9 hours so that may have something to do with it. If yours can be done by keyhole you may escape that

Just getting used to the temporary stoma is a  bit of a trauma, and you will need nursing help at home.

Wishing you very well, but don't expect to be fighting fit for quite a while. This is a major operation.

Come on u Debn beys...

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Fully appreciate what you are saying Norman, I certainly know that most of this year will be written off, I will just be happy to put the operation behind me, and start the long road to recovery, I will have to take onboard any chemo that may be required on top of the whole recovery process. I have tried to remain realistic, and whilst I have never had an operation of any sort, I know this is a biggie, so hopefully I will be prepared for the long haul back to some sort of normality. After going through all this since last October, anything that helps me to recovery I will not complain about and try and take it in my stride.

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 Have you seen your assistante sociale about your family needs, ie you and your wife during this time?

And snotty fonctionnaires, yup, what do you expect in France, they are snotty and you rale, that is the way the game is played, and yes, they know that you are unwell, and it doesn't stop them!

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Grecian, you sound as if you are having fairly realistic expectations about your op and afterwards.

It also sounds as though you'll have lots of worrying about your wife on your shoulders, which won't help your morale; I know you said you'd decided it would be best for your wife to stay at home, but I wondered if there was anyone who could possibly stay at home with her.

If so, it would help you to concentrate on getting through your op, recovering from it over the first few days and getting used to the new you, whether it turns out to be temporary or not, plus starting to get back to normal, with a little less worrying about her quite as much. (My ipad has just put up 'Norman' instead of 'normal' I had to laugh!). Worrying about her could hold you back, although I'm sure you know that.

Idun writes about an assistante sociable; this sounds as though it might mean help for you and your wife before, during and after your op - help at home etc. if there's any help at all offered, take it.

The other thing I wondered about was whether your wife could stay in a family room at the hospital, again possibly with a relative or friend. There are rooms at the CHU, don't know if that's where your op will be of course, but family rooms do exist there:

http://www.chu-bordeaux.fr/Patient/structures-dhebergement/maison-des-familles-saint-jean/

My ops have been much less complicated than yours will be, but although the latest one took much longer than expected, I was very upbeat in the days and weeks afterwards. However, it's taken a lot more getting over than I expected. You sound realistic, saying you're ruling out this year, but don't under-estimate how long you'll need before starting to get back to 'normal' - I've found there's a new me, not in the essentials, but in strength and stamina.

You'll have many friends here wishing you and your wife well as you approach this challenge, during your op and beyond.
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Grecian

I agree with garden girl. If your wife can stay with you it might ease the stress for both of you.

I know how difficult it is being treated a long way from home and the support you give each other is essential. Do ask about accom at the hospital as they always ask me if my husband is staying. He stays in a cheap motel when possible because we have a dog but it is lovely to have him visit and to see my dog outside when I feel well enough.

I wish you all the best for your op and hope your wife can be near you during this difficult period.

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I would certainly get in contact with the 'aide sociale' of the Hospital.

Don't be put off by the idea of 'aide'

It's not charity it is help with the various practical problems you may have to cope with.

For example the transport situation you are having problems wirg  would come into their remit...

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Thank you all for your suggestions.

After showing my wife the possibility of a hospital room, she thinks it would be better for her to stay at home, although see desperately wants to be with me for the operation, the eating cycle, and different bed which if too hard would cause her considerable pain if she had to use it for a week or more, and the general disruption to her whole routine is really a non-starter. I will load up my mobile phone, and stay in touch with her that way, if I am up to using it.

Thanks for reminding me about the 'aide sociale' idun and Norman will bear this in mind as we may need some domestic assistance after I return home, as it is me that does all the cleaning, hoovering etc. I guess it will just depend as to how quickly I recover to enable me to start doing small light jobs around the house. Maybe I will be a fast healer as I am so young!

Bertiebe I sincerely hope your road to recovery is going OK, I see you are also having transport issues of your own, something we do not need with our ongoing situations. Very best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Théière, your username is damn hard to to key with all your accents, I know cancer is no laughing matter but sometimes it helps to lighten the mood a little, so thanks for your contributions.

We are out tonight for a meal and stay at the hotel we regularly used in Bressuire before all this started back in October, it will be the first night out since then, so will just try and forget everything that is fast approaching for tonight and try and enjoy ourselves for a change.

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Grecian

Glad you have made a decision regarding your wife's accommodation. The less you have to worry about the better.

Just a thought but thankfully wifi.is free here at oncopole and I am able to keep in touch with my smartphone using WhatsApp for free, all over the world. Hope you find a way of staying in contact with your dear lady.

Thanks for your kind words, sometimes it helps knowing you are not alone and the people on this forum have lots of good advice.

Hope you had a good meal last night and good luck for the 17th.😊
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