Honestly, as someone who has been around for 12 years, I wouldn't travel. You're not talking about a tumor that is super close to the anal verge that you are so concerned about the QOL issues. I understand people believing that we should all go to a major cancer center BUT....it really isn't necessary all of the time.
You had an excision.....did the pathology indicate that they got it all? You don't say whether or not the pre-tests (ultrasound and/or CT) showed any suspicious nodes or not. It 'sounds' (only based on the limited information that you gave) that you are a stage I. Again, this is ONLY based on the limited information that you provided. The surgery that they are recommending is 'standard of care' and good surgeons across the country can and should be able to do the surgery. That being said, I would suggest you consult with a BOARD CERTIFIED COLON AND RECTAL surgeon and not just a general surgeon who can do the surgery. IMO, IF you were dealing with a tumor that was 2-3 cm from the anal verge and NOT 7 cm as you indicated, it may be a different story. There are fantastic surgeons in Portland and frankly in Seattle....which is a heck of a lot closer than NYC. IF you are truly a stage I, you may not even need chemo or any other treatment.
Too often, for early stage cancers, the major centers frankly 'overtreat' because they can. If you want to travel, by all means do so, BUT....you may want to also take into consideration that any follow ups be done locally. LAR surgery is commonplace and a well informed, practiced and qualified surgeon can do the surgery. You don't need to travel to have it done by a qualified surgeon.
That being said (and again, there is limited information that you provided), many newer protocols are allowing for the wait and watch approach. Did you have radiation? That may be something you wish to explore to avoid the surgery. If you look at my signature, I had chemoradiation and then an excision....11+ years ago and I am doing fine with a tumor that was closer to a T3. Everyone is different and I'm NOT saying that you should follow my path. I also had surgeons recommending the LAR procedure and I declined based on studies that were being conducted at the time.
What did all of your tests indicate? Was there suspicious lymph node involvement? Did the CT/PET/MRI show any distant mets? Did the pathology from the colonoscopy indicate that you are dealing with a tumor that has negative prognostic factors? These are all questions you should be asking and test results that you should have in front of you. What, if any (besides the excision) treatments did you have? Has any surgeon/oncologist recommended that you have radiation?
Check out a surgeon via this website to make certain that he/she is board certified in the appropriate category. http://www.abcrs.org/verify-a-physician-2/