She sounds like she's getting what I got. YES, there is recovery possible! I would strongly recommend her following a strict healthy diet with zero "treats" and "cheats" as fueling your body properly is a major part of a: supporting the chemo and b: healing from the surgery.
They carved a freaking train tunnel through me. I kid you not, I got him to take pictures, and you could have driven a model train from my belly button to my thighs, through the middle. Everything south of my vaginal wall was sliced away, my uterus and pelvic floor, tons of the flesh around my rectum and anus. Then they took 2/3 of one side of my stomach abs, the side that didn't have the colostomy bag on it and used that to fill the hole and rebuild my pelvic floor. I need to relearn how to pee, more or less, and hold my pee too. I'd had emergency colostomy surgery a few months earlier so i could eat.
Yeah, the pain she's going through sucks everything away. No meds can really touch it. it'll bring you to the bottom. Your friend will need extensive help with quality of life, like actually someone to play housekeeper and butler and mommy for now, and after the surgery too.
I did most earnestly try to kill myself several times in the process, but well, I guess I'm not allowed to escape? The freedom when I woke up from surgery. Well it just didn't hurt as much anymore, even though the meds were still rather pointless. What DID hurt, I recall, was my shoulder. They had me on that table 6 hrs in an awkward pose and it threw out my shoulder! It wasn't till day two I got someone to massage it. It was the spiritual advisor hired by the catholic hospital and I said "hey, you can't save my soul but if you'd massage this shoulder you could save my sanity." She did! Then the next morning I was crying about it again, saying if only someone could massage it, when one of the nurses said she would, it was part of her job. Boy did I need that.
Seeing the results on your tummy, it's a shock. I woke up in that hospital in a fog from meds, two weird things grabbing my shins over and over (pneumatic squeezers to prevent clot formation) and a massive horrible ugly red zipper full of frankenstein staples, twice the size of the previous one. I couldn't see my butt myself, but the doctor had kindly agreed to take some pics including one of it finished and he shared them out to my phone so I could keep them. Everyone else kept "checking the flap" and I got used to rolling over or lifting my legs or something.
Even so, the freedom from the grinding pain of the tumour meant I felt like I had new-found energy. I was even dancing, ever so lightly, out of pure joy at feeling better.
The flap was really hard to heal. The two end points of the oval of skin just didn't want to close up or stop leaking that orange blood fluid, called lymph. I went home laying on towels and wearing massive period pads to try and keep it dry and catch the blood, etc. I found a salve then, one day, in a local store, made by a local woman. It wasn't sterile and I started to show sign of infection so I added tea tree oil to it (fixes anything, I swear it) and that salve had shepherd's purse in it. Now you see, I studied healing herbs. Not that "miracle cure" kind, but the first aid kind. the sort of thing you need on-the-spot for minor ailments and injuries. Shepherd's purse can close a wound so fast it seals in infection. That stuff works instantly. It did so on me too. Even so, it still took 2 wks using that salve before the wound stopped weeping.
8 wks after surgery the astonished plastic surgeon declared me healed enough to sit on it, ride a bike on a big seat, jump around, etc., as I wished. She said a couple of her other patients weren't healing so well and she was worried for them. It's pretty crucial to get that flap to heal right, it's the difference between life and death with this kind of surgery. Literally. From what I read, failure to heal properly results more often in death than being weaker or crippled.
I did have complications. One kidney swelled up due to a minor nick in the ureter line. that's the line between kidney and bladder, and it inflamed and stopped up the process, leaving the kidney swamped and swelling. Oh my damn, that's pain. But here's the thing about pain, it's just electricity. The stress of it certainly does some harm, but it's not harm in itself, pain, it's just the alarm bells. Like being in a building when you can't shut off the fire alarm. it sucks, but, well, it can be endured. When they started putting the cystoscopy up my ureter I really thought maybe this pain could kill me, or would my head just explode from it? But nope, it didn't. I just was even more tired and my eyes were swollen from tears and my nose plugged from same and well, same old crap, eh? they did fix up my kidney and when they returned 3 wks later to retrieve the stent, it wasn't painful at all really.
So yeah, someone on here has had this surgery, me. There are amazing plastic surgery techniques these days to rebuild you, and it's survivable. Also, I have been eating a 95% paleo diet for four years, even to the extent of bringing in all my own food in the hospital. I blame this entirely for my speedy healing and strength. So your mileage may vary.
Nope, it ain't easy. but it isn't impossible either. Plus which, you get an angel's butt. No, like barbie, you get the anus-free butt of an angel! Just don't bend over, the lighter ab skin in the middle makes it look like a target more than ever! You also get the newest fashion in tummy tucks, vertical tuck! google about the VRAM flap perineal rebuild. That's the one they gave me.
dx colorectal cancer FE2016
emergency colostomy MR2016
Major surgery removing everything from perineum to stoma to remove tumour with. total hysterectomy including ovaries.
Perineal and pelvic floor rebuild with VRAM flap AU2016 (put my stomach where my butt used to be)
IV sub dermal Port installed NO2016
Currently in follow-up FOLFOX.
Colostomy is permanent. I just turned 53, but have an energetic lifestyle.