First of all WELCOME to our forum. Here you will find a wealth of information AND a great group of people who will be here for you, day or night.....whatever you need. We may not always have the answers but we will try to find information and resources for you if we don't know.
As to starting treatment, take a deep breath, try to calm down because you are in for the long haul. Next, I would suggest you get a three ring binder, complete with dividers (the kind like we all got before school started in the fall). You'll be getting lots of different test results and it is really a good idea to have a place where you can put the actual test results in...rather than just trying to remember what the doctor said. For example, the blood tests that you mentioned are generally the following:
CBC - complete blood count (will tell you things about your blood...white blood count, red blood count, hemoglobin, etc.)
CHEM or METABOLIC PANEL - (same thing....will give info about your liver, kidney function, sodium levels, etc.)
CEA - cancer marker (be aware...about half the patients have tumors that don't express the protein so it doesn't necessarily mean much)
In addition, you will likely get an endorectal ultrasound that will help stage you. Rectal cancer is generally CLINICALLY staged prior to treatment as most stages (except generally stage I) undergo neoadjuvant (presurgery) chemoradiation to shrink the tumor and to 'sterilize' the nodal field surrounding the rectum. If you didn't do the pretreatment staging, you honestly wouldn't have any idea what the stage was. Don't be surprised if all of these tests AND the appointments with the radiation oncologist (the one who will be in charge of the chemoradiation if you need it....different from a radiologist) takes a few weeks or more. There are tests to be done, results to be interpreted, planning for the radiation, etc. Take all of this ONE STEP AT A TIME and don't start stressing about the 'big picture'. Oftentimes it seems as though rectal cancer treatment is at a snail's pace....and honestly, it is. However, you don't want to rush into surgery if your case warrants pretreatment.
As far as being alone, I have no idea if the military would consider sending you to California so that you could be near family. Is that something you can request?? I might suggest once you find out exactly where you will be sent, reach out to members on this forum. We are literally EVERYWHERE and who knows....there likely is someone in Hawaii that you can turn to for advice, help and support.
You won't yet be able to PM anyone but I hope you will continue to post and become a part of our 'club'. It certainly isn't one anyone wants to join but we are really glad you are here. Take heart...you are NOT alone and like us before you, you can do what lies ahead of you. WELCOME again.
Dx 6/22/2006 IIA rectal cancer
6 wks rad/Xeloda -finished 9/06
1st attempt transanal excision 11/06
11/17/06 XELOX 1 cycle
5 months Xeloda only Dec '06 - April '07
10+ blood clots, 1 DVT 1/07
transanal excision 4/20/07 path-NO CANCER CELLS!
NED now and forever!
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